Be a Purposeful, Confident Photographer on Social Media

Be a Purposeful, Confident Photographer on Social Media

Recently, I sang the blues about being a careless photographer on Facebook, Twitter, etc, and that culminated in the article Don't Be An Annoying, Whiny Photographer on Social Media. While I stand behind the points I covered in it, I've heard tons of feedback already. "Ok, wiseguy, what should a photographer do on social media then?" is the general message I've been seeing. might have likened these behaviors to that of young children, and that might have not set well some shooters out there.

But then, maybe children have a better outlook on this than we do? Make no mistake, feedback about my previous article varied greatly. Some photographers flat out disagreed with some of my points, and made it quite clear that they did. Others wholeheartedly agreed, and discussions occurred all over. And all this got me thinking. Enough so, in fact, that I am going to follow up on each point from the previous article, one at a time, and discuss what (perhaps) a photographer really should do on social media.

I'll also add some thoughts my 10, 9 and 6 year old gave me this morning on the way to school, as I had asked them about these concepts to see what innocence would reply with.

I Love My Business

My 9 year old says he loves to talk about what he loves to do more than what bothers him, because what bothers him upsets him.

Business slow? Finances hurting? We all feel it at times. As I said before, don't tell your customers your business is in a downturn on social media. Tell them, instead, about your latest special offer, or simply remind them how amazing your industry is, and how you look forward to what is ahead (after all, it can only get better if you're already in a valley, no?) The social aspect of social media should be about imparting confidence in your would-be clients via interpersonal statements that still make your brand look appealing and exciting. You didn't get into photography because you like being broke, you got into photography because you love it. Share that passion with your social media fanbase, and get them excited about your posts, nay, your service. It won't be an overnight cure-all, but it sure as hell has a better chance of helping you than letting clients know that things are tight or that you may be out of business if things don't turn around. Love what you do - again! 

Incentivised Posts in Groups or Tweets

My 6 year old enjoys telling me why his idea is amazing and how it will be awesome if I agree to it.

I said before that if you "dump and run" a link to your social media pages with no description or purpose, you will just bother people. And be ignored. Instead, consider the WIIFM factor (What's In It For Me?) in marketing, and well, tell them what's in it for them. Maybe a special offer, or an announcement about travel. Maybe you want to share a new client image that inspires you, so you post it with your thoughts and feelings about it, and why you want to share it. Of course, you can work in a mention about your Page or Profile in that as well. Don't forget to be kind of specific, you know, if you are wanting new clients.

For example: If you are posting a new image you feel will get people's attention, and you want to drum up new business in your hometown of Oklahoma City, find a way to mention "OKC" in your post. Let would-be clients know who you are, why you are posting, and how and where they can get a hold of you if they want more. Be excited, be personable, be honest, but above all, be purposeful.

Support Your Industry Peers

All of my kids are unanimous in their assertion that being nice rocks, and being mean sucks.

Calling out is a huge problem on social media. It is so very tempting to post some passive-aggressive, thinly veiled rant about some other photographer who is annoying, rude, crude, or a fraud. You open up that can of worms, you better expect to find a fight at the end of it. Rather than pick fights, why not post about your industry peers who inspire you? Or those who have helped you in the past? Or how about a heartwarming post about your local industry and those in it, even your competitors, and how you are proud to be doing what you love right alongside them? Apart from making potential clients smile when they see you are so open minded and kind, you will also disarm any of your competitors who might be prone to picking fights with you. In social media, it doesn't take much to set off a firestorm of petty arguing, name calling, and the picking of sides.

Stay neutral and supportive of your industry (within reason) because, remember, you need those you look up to to inspire you to be better, and you need those not as advanced as you to make you look better in comparison. But above all else, spreading the love always trumps spreading the vitriol.

Be Sneaky About Parading Your Gear With BTS

The 10 year old says she kind of misses doing Show & Tell back in kindergarten because sharing cool stuff is fun. She also said they don't do Show & Tell in 5th grade because the older kids will just show off their new toys or whatever and make fun of those who don't have the same toys.

Look, it's still true that taking a phone snap of your new 85 1.2L or 300 2.8L IS II to post on your Page or business Twitter with some hyper "OMG it's here!" isn't useful for business because, frankly, your clients do not care, and almost all of them cannot grasp what said gear does for the photos they might hire you to do. Remember your clients want images, not to look at your latest glass acquisition.

However, for some reason, would-be clients seem to love behind-the-scenes snaps of you working (you can see where this is going). Have a friend or assistant take some snapshots of you working, either in studio or on location, and use that image as a visual about your next special offer. First off, it humanizes you, and makes you more "real" to your potential clients. That's a very good thing because we often forget our fancy ass websites and Facebook pages sometimes make us look untouchable or overly glorified. Yes, you want to come across as confident and successful, but you still need be approachable. Behind-the-scenes snaps are the quickest way to do this.

Note that in my personal opinion, if you work in glamour or fashion specifically, don't take smug selfies with your arm around a half naked model as your BTS. Quite literally everybody thinks you look like you're trying to show off that you are around said half naked model, and you're also clearly not working in a selfie, are you? On top of that, you are also turning off potential modeling clients who may be thinking "Oh good, if I hire this photographer, I'll get to do an awkward, half naked selfie with them. Great." and that is anti-marketing in every way.

Finally, BTS shots, by default, show off your gear. But they do so in a subtle manner, where potential clients can clearly see you have "professional equipment", and you haven't bothered them with details about why upgrading to LEE filters is so awesome. You, at work, with a smile on your face, snapping away in an idyllic scene with a happy client shows the world that you are human, professional, fun to work with, passionate, and, yes, well equipped.

Holier Than No One

The 6 year old is pretty clear on the fact that bragging is wrong, and if you're really bad about it, it gets you into time-out, or worse yet, grounded.

There's no subtle way to discuss this one again, so here goes: Don't brag about your accomplishments in a manner that belittles anyone else. That is pure, 100% anti-marketing. Just because your friends on social media all chime in to agree with you, it doesn't mean you are helping your business. You may be extremely good at what you do in your work, but if you aren't spreading positivity and love of your industry, and instead spreading malevolence disguised as "hard truth", you are certainly doing nothing to gain the genuine, earnest respect and adoration of your peers. No one is an island, and putting yourself on a pedestal doesn't help you in any way. Instead, offer possible solutions that could help those you are usually critical of. Don't care enough to help them out? Just stay quiet, and post some dynamic BTS shots instead. 

And remember, again as I stated before, if you have a very-real problem with an industry person that requires legal action or law enforcement, then don't hesitate. Just keep that anti-marketing off your social media. Do no harm, but take no shit either.

Politics and Religion Are Divisive, So Tread Lightly

The 9 year old said, and I quote, "If you make your enemies your friends, you don't have to fight them anymore."

World news and belief systems don't belong in your marketing. They are distraction, and I stand behind that from my previous article.

But ok, fine, go ahead and acknowledge important news items if you absolutely must, but try it with some compassion instead of just strident criticism. Usually, dramatic news stories involve human beings suffering, sadly, so if you must speak your mind on a news / political matter, show how much you care about your fellow humans, and not just how much you hate "the other party's candidate". Your clients prefer to know you are compassionate than simply fueled by rage-rants. 

Feel free to wish your clients a Merry Christmas during December, but don't make it a rant about some poor retail employee who innocently said Happy Holidays to you because you are Christian. Inversely, if you are moved to tears about a particularly appalling news item, and want to "send positive energies" to the victims families, go for it. But don't make it a rant about how prayers are useless because you're atheist. 

Show who you are, after all it's social media. But don't go overboard into preaching, ranting, hate speech, scolding, or evangelizing. Anti-marketing 101, that stuff is.

Post With Purpose

The 9 year old says that he likes seeing what the 6 year old built in Minecraft, but not every 5 minutes because that's annoying.

Simple enough, but hugely useful posts are best done in small numbers. If you post incentives, and awesome BTS shots, and special offers, and of course your latest portfolio worthy images in an even, deliberate manner without overdoing it - you will do so much better. What's the ideal amount? Varies, and varies wildly. Try to experiment with how often you post, and see the reaction and return you get depending on the frequency of your posts.  Then make some decisions.

And while it's true that funny photography related memes can "go viral", you need to throttle those a bit, too. Sure, if you create a hilarious meme about photography and it gets shared 6,143,822 times, it will certainly have a significant impact on your social media presence. However, that's a bit like winning the lottery in that both are equally likely. So be yourself, especially if who you are is a part time comedian, but avoid trying to force something "going viral". 

Instead, give your clients what they wanna see, and don't annoy them with too much of it.

Let Your Work Get You The Compliments

10 year old: "Why would you ask someone to compliment you? If they want to, they will, right?"

If you have to ask for a compliment, you're probably about to be lied to. And fishing for compliments on social media via self deprecation posts is the fastest way to garner empty compliments and desperately inspirited comments. However, as I stated before, you won't make your work better by asking your social media friends to compliment you. That's just straight cognitive dissonance right there.

Instead of asking others in an underhanded way to encourage or console you, put your nose to the grindstone and step your work up a level or two. Stop looking for the magic solution in other people. Study, practice (shoot shoot shoot!), ask questions to possible mentors, take workshops or private classes - anything. Solve your problems, don't ask others to make you feel better about the challenges you face. Remember, you have to suck at something before you can be good at it. But there is no need to advertise to the world that you feel you suck. You entered the photography realm because you loved it right? Well, love means nothing without effort, sacrifice and humility. 

Be so good they can't ignore you. Let the work do the talking. 

It's Better Than You Think

You really can be a social media champion without succumbing to bad habits. Just ask yourself each time before you post anything "Is this potentially going to better my business?" If the answer is no, then don't post it. Spreading positivity and inspiration will get you to your goals way faster than negativity and arrogance. Or simple carelessness. 

Feel free to follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and see if I practice what I preach!  


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Lis Beattie's picture

Good article. It's nice to get shoulds as well as shouldn'ts.
(And your kids are clearly awesome.)

Justin Haugen's picture

So did you have this article written as a companion to last night's post, or did you whip this out in less than a day? Impressive! Good points here and a nice supplement to the other article.

Dan Ostergren's picture

Great article! Particularly love the optimistic point of view that you started the article with in the "I love my business" paragraph. We need MORE OPTIMISM like this on fstoppers!

Mbutu Namubu's picture

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DiAnté Johnson's picture

Hello, me again, this is another noteworthy article, Mr. Batista. I like how you pumped out a follow-up story so quickly. When you post such things, you have to be ready for the backlash, but I'm sure you knew that beforehand. I don't necessarily agree with the idea of catering to this theoretical social media audience (you know the people out there that may or may not be paying any attention), but I do understand that 1% chance of good things coming to those who wait. The problem is, however, how long is the wait going to be. I like this, "Do no harm, but take no shit either." I've been told take shit and like the taste of it. I'm rather sick of it now.

Wouter Oud's picture

"Feel free to follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and see if I practice what I preach!'
I see what you did there. ^^

Nino Batista's picture

They're on to me...

Jason Ranalli's picture

Nino, I thought your last article was great and well purposed...I found a positive message in it for sure. This is certainly a good companion piece for folks who may have found it negative or hypocritical.

Joshua Boldt's picture

good follow-up :)

Hawaii Portrait Photographer's picture

Great pOst! thank you for sharing some GEMS need to get back on the social media thing again. i like how you used your kid, i can really relate to that, i got 3. kids are so pure and honest just got to tell it how it is. have a great weekend! Aloha!

lee arthur's picture

Batista, I read both articles while at work and enjoyed both. Though I do not have a photography website on social media, I do post several pictures on my personal Face Book page. I took a lot of information from your articles and when I do create my photography page, should be able to incorporate many of your suggestions. Thank you again, and good writing.

Dylan Patrick's picture

Great article Nino, I loved the last one too and this is a great follow up. Positivity and confidence is what people want to work the inclusion of your kids too. Well done!

Francisco Hernandez's picture

Really liked this article and the one before it. I've been guilty of the shouldn'ts and now more into the shoulds. Great advice for photographers.