Monday, April 25, 2011

Facebook For Photographers

Picture of a woman executive with her head surrounded by binary numbers representing an overload of information and data.
Social Media including Facebook, Twitter and Linked In have become part of the vast over supply of information that is bringing me to my knees!

How To Promote Your Photography Business With Facebook
For the past week I have been trying to figure out how to use Facebook to promote my photography business…and to no avail. I feel a huge amount of pressure to come up with an answer because of the overwhelming success and growth of social media, and of Facebook in particular.  Facebook, it appears, can be good for some photographers, but for my particular needs…well, I just don’t see the value…yet.

Facebook For Wedding Photographers
The most obvious use of Facebook for a photography business seems to me to be for wedding photographers. A wedding photographer can upload the wedding images to Facebook and tag the individuals in the photos. All of those tagged people, who have Facebook accounts (isn’t that everyone?) well then see those photos. Some might order additional prints, and some might decide to use said photographer for their own nuptials. 

Art Directors, Art Buyers and Client Relationships
Facebook might also be useful for keeping up a relationship with clients, art directors, art buyers, designers and so forth. If I were doing assignments I would seriously consider shooting, or having my assistant shoot, behind the scenes shots that I could then post on Facebook with tags to the individuals in the shoot. Even the account executives could be tagged. Those behind the scene photos could help cement a relationship.  Got to be careful though…just in case there is something of a proprietary nature going on at the shoot. Facebook could be a double-edged sword if one doesn’t proceed with caution.

Facebook Fan Pages
I have started a fan page…well, two fan pages, on Facebook. I have a fan page for my funny cat, dog and other animal photos, and a fan page for my photography business in general. My reasoning is twofold: If Facebook does prove to be important I want to at least have my feet wet; and who knows, maybe, particularly with the pet photography, there are people out there searching Facebook for the kind of images I make. It can’t hurt, right?

The Cost of Opportunity
Actually, in a way it could hurt. Where it could hurt is in the cost of opportunity. That is, the time I spend on Facebook is time that I can’t spend elsewhere.  I know that time I put into my SEO efforts, into uploading new material onto my web site…and potentially more important, time I put into creating new imagery, is earning me a return on that investment. I understand the dynamics of ranking highly on search engines and I experience people finding me, licensing my images, buying prints (sold two yesterday), and buying imprinted merchandise after finding me on those search engines.  I keep going back to the thought that when someone is searching for a stock photo, whether they know what a stock photo is or not, the overwhelming odds are that they will be using Google and not Facebook.  I do have to admit, though, I have not been putting a lot of time into my fan pages. Worse, I am still confused about how to use them, upload and link things, and execute basic functions. Is it just me, or is Facebook a little less than intuitive? Geez, in putting my Facebook fan page links up, just now, I clicked on something and I think I lost my main Facebook page altogether!!! Oh well...I'll deal with that later....

Stock Photographers And Facebook
Being a stock photographer, particularly one who rarely licenses his own work (almost all of my stock photos are with agencies), I just am not seeing much potential for me on Facebook. I will continue to dabble in it, and keep my eyes open for photographers who are making it work for them. Along those lines, if any of you reading this have any knowledge of Facebook proving valuable in advancing the career of a stock photographer, or heck, any photographer, I would love to hear about it!