Creating a Facebook page is just like snapping a picture – it isn’t difficult. In fact, just about anyone can do it. An eight-year-old could probably do it. But the two practices share something else in common – they’re hard to do well.
Those of us who use the largest social media network on the planet will already know how to comment, like, and post status updates. But if you’re establishing a Facebook presence for your photography business, it’s going to take far more than a few posts and Likes to get the ball rolling. You’ll need a solid setup to get started, and then a comprehensive strategy to stay afloat and grow your influence.
Photo from Mike Baird
This guide will serve to outline tips and features of setting up and interacting on a Facebook page as a photography business. I’ll shamelessly be using examples from my own Facebook page to help you follow along, so while it’s not perfect, you’ll be able to see each function firsthand as it appears on a real business page for photography.
Setting your page up
If you’re starting a photography business, then you should already have a portfolio of your work. Your portfolio should contain your very best work, and you’ll want visitors to see this on your Facebook page.
Let me begin by providing some peace of mind for those who are worried about putting their photos on Facebook.
That’s straight from the horse’s mouth: “You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook.” There’s more on Facebook’s terms page, but the biggest thing to remember is that while they have permission to use your photos (host them on their servers and allow fellow Facebookers to view them), you retain ownership of your posted content.
Now that you’ve breathed a sigh of relief, it’s time to get started.
Creating genre-based albums is a great way to go when you’re first uploading portfolio images to your Facebook page. It’s going to direct visitors who are interested in particular types of photography (e.g. newborns, weddings, sporting events, live performances, etc.) to the right place, and it’s also going to keep your images organized in the future.
Every time you publish photos, just add them to the corresponding album so that new visitors can find what they’re looking for.
Another big part of adding images is tagging your subjects’ names. Doing so will generally yield more exposure to your page from the people you tag and their friends.
We’re all familiar with the pleasant surprise that comes with someone tagging a flattering photo of us. Tagging your subjects establishes favorable rapport with them and expands the possible viewership of said photo.
Something else to consider when sharing your photos is whether or not to watermark. Just because you own your images doesn’t mean individual users can’t download, share and use them for their own agenda. Facebook makes it easy to do so, and when somebody decides to snag one of your images there’s no indication of its origin.
That’s where a watermark comes in. There are of course a variety of ways to mark your photo, and some are more subtle than others. I personally choose to include my name and the year of publication in each photo’s border. It’s a small token of my creation that can clue viewers in without disturbing the image itself.
Others choose to incorporate more conspicuous designs that overlay the photo and include logos, websites and contact information. This makes it easier to pick out the photographer’s details but can also become a distraction. But the size and type of watermark you use really comes down to a personal preference.
Once you’ve added the meat and potatoes of your portfolio, you need to think about what visitors are first going to see when they come to your page. This includes everything above the fold, and includes your Page Name, Profile Picture, Cover Photo, About section and Albums. If you’re not already familiar with it, “above the fold” is a term used to describe a page’s contents that are immediately visible (without scrolling down).
Your Page Name obviously tells people who you are, but it speaks to the search engines as well. By this I mean that Google and Bing will see your page’s name and index it (along with the other textual content on your page) to rank in search results. Including the word “photography” somewhere in your title may be a given, but realize that it helps people find your page in search engines (especially when paired with your location).
The About section is where you talk about your business. Here you’ll want to include your location, the services you offer, contact information and perhaps pricing. There are fields for more specific details deeper in the About section, but the “short description” is what appears first on your page, so this is where you should give visitors the most relevant info up front.
The Cover Photo is the loudest feature above the fold, being the largest piece of visual content on your page. This is your chance to exhibit your latest and greatest capture, sucking visitors in with a beautiful photograph and encouraging them to inspect the rest of the page. Keep in mind that the space can’t be occupied by any more than 20% text, so while you can include a logo, it’s not the place to reiterate spots from your About section or tout special deals.
Your Profile Picture plays a similar role, except that it is more flexible than the cover photo and can potentially incorporate large portions of text. It’s also wise to use this space for a portrait of yourself or your team. There’s nothing more effective at establishing credibility with new visitors than showing them the faces of the people behind the business. It shows potential customers that you’re friendly and personable (not to mention good-looking!). Other than this, you can always include a stunning photograph that will have curious users clicking on it, and subsequently browsing through the rest of your images.
The Favorites and Applications area plays an exceptionally versatile function. This is where custom applications can be nested that lend special features to your page. Facebook applications can be created to serve any number of purposes, including contact forms, slideshows, networking applications such as photo contests, or even testimonials.
Photo from Iris Leaf Photography
Custom applications are a visually appealing way to enhance an otherwise average business page, giving visitors a more attractive and interactive experience. They’re an effective way to reach out to new customers and offer appealing opportunities to existing fans.
Now that you’ve finished setting up your page, your job’s not over. It’s time to implement a social strategy that will draw buzz to your page and have impressed Facebook fans returning regularly.
Maintaining a social strategy
The first and most essential part of your strategy should be constant visual communication with visitors through regular updates. Updates are going to be the lifeblood of your Facebook presence, feeding your fans with striking images, entertaining resources and the latest news about your business.
Updates should ideally be made at least once a day to keep a steady flow of activity going on your page. At the same time, it’s important not to overdo it. An onslaught of soulless posting will do more harm than good, so finding the right balance between consistency and overkill is in your best interest.
Keep in mind that the large majority of your updates should include visual elements. Whether it’s a photo, video, promotional banner, collage, infographic or just a screenshot, including something visual in each update you post will have a much higher number of users viewing and clicking through it.
When you finish shooting and editing new work that you’re proud of, show it to your Facebook fans! Add your photos to those genre-based albums, attach them to updates and link to them on other sites if they’re featured elsewhere. And remember that when you’re adding pictures of people to your page, tag them every time.
But you may not be producing new images on a daily basis, so you’ll want to fill the gaps with other sorts of content, and there are several routes to take with this.
Think about showcasing some lesser-known aspects of your business through your Facebook updates. Focus on what makes your photography business special (the people you work with, the techniques and equipment you utilize, your location, etc.) and convey these things to your audience with images. Going behind-the-scenes will build credibility with your fans and give them a closer look at how your business operates.
You can also post updates referring to mundane interests. These include everyday topics of conversation that the average person can relate to, such as the weather or workday productivity. As a professional photographer you have the power of pictures on your side, so it’s easy to take an appealing photo of the beautiful weather and add it to your page to stimulate conversation.
Making your updates entertaining and humorous are both very effective ways to charm users and garner feedback. Don’t be afraid to lighten up and crack a few jokes in your Facebook feed, as long as you’re keeping it tasteful. This may or may not be appropriate for your brand and target audience, so consider the kinds of people you service and whether they’d enjoy those types of posts.
Yet another way to provide fresh and exciting content is through a blog. Creating useful blog posts that provide free resources to visitors will grab their attention and often get them talking.
This also draws Facebook fans to your website (assuming your blog is hosted on your website), where they can learn more about your services and initiate contact if they’re genuinely interested in you.
If you’ve exhausted your options and need some backup, you can provide updates by linking up with other social media networks as well. Instagram, Flickr, 500px and Twitter can all be linked to Facebook so that posts you make on each network will also appear as updates on your Facebook page. This makes it easier to share and provide a stream of content to your fans on Facebook.
If what you’re sharing is interesting, entertaining and relevant, then users are bound to “Like” and leave comments on your updates. Take advantage of this when they do and make it an opportunity to start a conversation. Be sure to thank the people who express their appreciation or interest, and do your best to inspire responses from them.
When you have a worthwhile conversation with a fan, he or she will remember it. This is one of the best (and easiest) ways to develop your brand’s personality and facilitate a meaningful, memorable interaction with the people who notice your business.
Now, I never said that establishing and maintaining a successful Facebook page was going to be easy. But this tutorial will be enough to get you off the ground and building your following – just take it from someone who’s done this before.
If you’re looking for more on starting social media pages for your photography business, keep an eye out for part II in which I’ll be covering all the Twitter fundamentals for photographers.