This guide is spilt into 3 parts, designed to help small business owners become more successful with social media and in particular with their photos. We’re going to start with the basics of social media marketing & how to plan out a simple yet effective social media strategy. In Part 2, we’ll talk about some different ways you get content for your social media marketing campaigns without taking a photo yourself and how to prepare that content using some readily available software. Finally, we’ll end with a deep dive into how to photograph it yourself in detail using some simple window light techniques that anyone can do.
Part 1: Create A Social Media Marketing Strategy
Part 2: 3 Ways to get photos without taking a single photo
Part 3: How Create Awesome Social Media Photography Using Window Light
Part 1: Create A Social Media Strategy
I meet with a lot of business owners & one thing that always surprises me is their confusion on how Social Media Marketing works. Most people think that it’s just about posting updates on their Facebook business page or sharing images on instagram every week, like a newsletter. In actuality, Social Media Marketing is far more complex and powerful than that. Now I realize that you may have come to this article to learn about photography and not marketing funnels, but if you start taking photos without a specific goal in mind than you might be creating the wrong photos. Creating great content is hard and time consuming and I just can’t live with myself if we didn’t discuss this piece of the puzzle first.
Determine Your Marketing Goals
Understanding your customer's journey from stranger to customer is the first step in strategizing any social media campaign. Hubspot does a great job of visualizing this journey. Setting a goal trying to get a stranger who has never heard your company before to buy from you immediately traditionally has a low success rate. Instead, focus on getting a stranger to take a smaller step, like just visiting your website. By focusing on accomplishing these micro goals of moving potential customers from one micro-goal to the next saves money and allows you to focus your marketing more effectively.
Accomplishing this full journey on social media is done in two different methods, each with their own goal: paid ads and organic posts. Paid ads work to push people through the marketing or purchasing funnel discussed above. Whereas organic posts don't have an immediate sales function, instead their goal is to get strangers to know and love your business and open up the means of communication and interaction. It's important to remember that you can't get people to love you with paid ads. Paid ads prompt your audience to take some sort of action, whether it is to sign-up for a mailing list or to buy a product or service, while an organic post gives them something of value and interest without an attached request.
Paid social media ads are fantastic for creating targeted, segmented campaigns to reach different targeted markets. If you look at the diagram above, you can see that if we break up the buying funnel into these different sections we can clearly see that the goal of each is different. We can now create images and messaging unique to accomplishing the goal of moving potential customers to the next micro-goal. Also, running ads higher up the funnel typically have higher costs and see less engagement. This means that if you’re having a slow month, it's easy to turn off the ads for Strangers and focus your precious ad dollars lower down on Leads.
When it comes to organic posts, a simple strategy is best. Your goal with organic posts should always be to provide value to your audience, to remind them of who you are so that they can relate to you in a more personal way. Organic posts are shown to people that already follow you, so they’re either interested in your product or they’re an existing customer. They’re your fan group and you want to make sure that they always feel welcome and entertained. First, make sure you post regularly, whether it’s once a month or once a day, keep it consistent. We use bufferapp.com to schedule our posts here, but there's many others. Secondly, make sure your content is awesome. Thoughtful copy and nice photos go a long way. Video is definitely where it’s at these days. Finally, you should be aware that specifically on Facebook, Organic postings to pages are only displayed to 1% of your audience. This is because they want you to do paid boosting. We boost every post for about $5 each ( around $100 a mo) because we’ve put effort into creating the posts and we want to stay in front of our audience. The result is an audience of people that feel more connected with what we do here, are reminded of our services regularly & are more likely to refer us to their real life friends and colleagues.
Optimizing Images For Social Media
Once you've determined your marketing goals and the type of ads to run, the next step is understanding the ins and outs of social media formats. This is crucial as every social media platform, whether organic or paid, has different size requirements and visual composition. Put simply, if you need a long rectangular image for an ad you should figure that out before you create the image as a square. When creating a new ad, I always check the pixel dimensions first. A pixel is a unit of measurement used to measure images online. The size of pixels along with the compression of your image determines your file size which in turn determines how quickly it takes for the image to load on your website. If your file is too big it takes too long to load online, which can cause you to lose valuable ranking in Google.
Your images are the building block of your ads, so once you have those sorted it's easy to move on to the final design of your social media postings. I’m not going to get too in depth with this because it’s fairly intuitive. A number of image editing software programs and apps exist to assist you in your content design. If you use software like Snappa or Canva, figuring out the dimensions of the ads are done for you and all you need to do is upload the image and add text. There’s a lot of examples and templates to follow. It’s best to plan this out beforehand. It’s really disappointing to upload a photo and find that it doesn’t fit or some key text is in the wrong place. When I was freelance, large marketing firms and ad agencies designed everything first and do photos last. I’ve seen entire catalogs with just placeholders and faked text; start with the design & create the content to fit the space.
Throughout the process, it's important to remember what parameters certain social media platforms apply to postings. For example, Facebook requires that ad text covers no more than a maximum of 20 percent of the image. It’s usually a good idea to upload your image to https://www.facebook.com/ads/tools/text_overlay which will test the image and tell you if it will work or not. Text larger than 20% will cost you more money.
It's difficult to go back to the drawing board once you've compiled a marketing campaign around it, so be sure to keep yourself updated on these restrictions as you go through the creative process.
Now that you know the importance of developing a social media marketing strategy for your brand its time to start thinking about content. Read part 2 of this series for a deep dive into how to get photograhpy for social media whitout having to take a photo yourself. See you there!