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got social media?

Today’s guest post comes from SCU President and founder of Marketing Essentials International, Skip Cohen.

It’s Marketing Monday and for most professional photographers the slow season is winding down. Just like the old “got milk” commercial, how’s your involvement in social media or, better put, are you using it wisely? This is a pretty cut and dry post today, but no one blog post on the topic could ever be all inclusive. So, I’ve only hit a few of my favorite suggestions.

We’re all involved in social media today, whether it’s through a website, a blog or how we use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn etc. However, I’ve talked to a lot of photographers in the last few months who don’t seem to fully appreciate the importance of paying more attention to a few of the key details.

  • Social media, especially blogging and tweeting, has been suggested as the greatest marketing tool of the century. While I agree for the most part, it doesn’t matter how good your reach is – if you haven’t built a skill set to show you can walk the talk as an artist, then your business is in just as much trouble as it was before you built your blog! Maybe even more.
  • Social media takes work. Just having a tweet handle, Facebook page, blog etc. isn’t going to extend your reach effectively. You might even be hurting the quality of your brand. If you can’t make the commitment to do the work, then back off and build it one venue at a time.
  • Being an effective blogger, tweeter, etc. is about consistency. I’ve been on a number of blogs lately with posts as inconsistent as good customer service at American Airlines. You can’t post whenever there’s a full moon. However often you’re going to post, you’ve got to stick to the schedule and be consistent. My suggestion, for the last couple of years for photographers with blogs targeting consumers, is at least twice a week.
  • Being an effective blogger is also about relevance. You’ve got to see the world through the eyes of your readers. Pay attention to topics that are important to them. For example, if you’re a children’s photographer, writing a blog post about your belief in the importance of legalizing marijuana in your state isn’t going to score points with those conservative moms out there! Think about who your target readership is.
  • You’ve got to be accessible and willing to give. This is about putting in time, answering questions and being helpful. In order to be effective you can’t hide behind the anonymity of your monitor.
  • Being effective in social media is about building your brand. It’s about your reputation and showing a certain level of passion for the business you’re in. Don’t be a hothead and remember, whatever you write…there are no erasers on the Internet.
  • Last on today’s list, ignore anybody who acts as if they’re entitled to your time. Don’t engage trolls or people with troll-like behavior. The best defense is silence!

Here’s the fun of social media – it’s so effective when done right. Your website is about what you sell, while your blog and just about everything else is about your heart. Done right, you have the reach that only magazines and newspapers had ten years ago. Done wrong and you’ll sink faster than the Titanic!

Take the time during these last few weeks of the “slow season” and think through your social media strategy in the year ahead. Lay out a game plan that involves good content, consistency and showing more than just your images.

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Skip Cohen is President of SCU, founder of Marketing Essentials International and past president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI. He’s been an active participant in the photographic industry since joining Hasselblad USA in 1987 as president. He has co-authored six books on photography and actively supports dozens of projects each year involving photographic education.

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