Why You Need to Be Using Facebook Messenger as a Professional Photographer

Why You Need to Be Using Facebook Messenger as a Professional Photographer

I remember when Facebook introduced their messenger service and how I mentally groaned at the idea of yet another way I’d have to keep up with correspondence. Heck, at times I even threw on my tinfoil hat and thought for sure that Facebook was spying on me through their messenger service. But, once I regained my composure and gave it a chance, I learned what many already knew: Facebook Messenger is quickly becoming the new email newsletter. 

I, like many other photographers, have struggled to keep my photography business in front of potential clients online. As social media continues to flourish and companies like Facebook continue to change and improve their algorithm, small businesses like mine are finding it harder and harder to get our brand in front of the people that matter in order to continue to use social media successfully for our businesses. This is why email marketing has been so favored and essential. In the past, the only way to stay at the forefront of a client’s mind would be to regularly send out updates, news, and educational content through email newsletters. Nowadays, Facebook Messenger and all it has to offer is changing how photographers and small businesses alike can stay in touch with clients and get booked more often.

Before you put your tinfoil hats on too, let me explain. Email newsletters have been vastly successful since the first big newsletter was sent out (in the 1970’s, no less). That first newsletter generated hundreds of thousands of dollars. Since then, senders of email newsletters have seen a high ROI. This is why marketing through email is considered to be one of the most successful and cost-effective ways a business can advertise itself.

And though email newsletters are primarily considered very successful, if we talk numbers, a great email newsletter campaign would be seeing a 20%-30% open rate. That number seems low, but it is considered quite good. However, with the advent of social media and new ways to connect and build relationships with potential clients, Facebook Messenger is quickly starting to trump the traditional email newsletter marketing strategy.

Organic Reach on Facebook is Dead

If you have a business page for your photography business on Facebook, then you already know that organic reach on the social media platform is dying a slow and agonizing death. And as if it wasn’t already bad, in an announcement at the beginning of the year, Mark Zuckerberg said that the social media giant would be limiting the reach of businesses and advertisers even more in the coming months. In the past, even though organic reach was suffering, photographers could still build relationships with potential clients by providing valuable content for their clients through Facebook ads and shared posts, but now it seems that even valuable content won’t be enough to gain engagement. After all, people can’t engage with our photography pages if they don’t know they exist. 

Facebook Messenger for the Win

In the past four months, I’ve seen a trend when people inquire on my Facebook business page: they begin the conversation with the phrase “Get started.” At first, I was perplexed as to why anyone would reach out to me with such a simple statement before following up with their info and inquiry. It is because Facebook users are already accustomed to an automated experience with businesses while using the Facebook Messenger feature. The phrase “Get started” is a universal phrase used by third-party companies that create an automated experience for businesses through Facebook Messenger. Much like an automated email reply, with services like ManyChat, businesses can transform their Facebook Messenger into an automated service for their clients. Whats more, most messenger bot services allow you to customize your brand voice which is extremely important to setting proper expectations for your clients and conveying your brand clearly.

An automated bot service may sound impersonal, but It greatly helps drive a client into booking your services. Not only does an automated service create an instant experience and offer answers in the moment, but it also gives the impression of professionalism for your photography business.

A Better Open-Rate Than Email

Earlier I mentioned that 20%-30% was considered an excellent open-rate for email newsletters. With Facebook Messenger, that number jumps to 80%-95%. Clients are much more inclined to open their Facebook messages, which not only allows you and your message to be seen more, it also allows you to stay at the forefront of your current and future clients’ minds. If you’re wondering why this matters, its because as business owners we should constantly be looking for ways to keep the ball in our court instead of our client’s court. If we have the contact info of our client, we have a better opportunity to be able to reach out and show our clients our worth. If a client understands our worth (and I’ll be honest, it's our job as professionals to educate our clients on why we’re worth what we are worth), they’ll be much more inclined to book. And isn’t that what we all want at the end of the day? To get booked? Yes, of course it is.

If you’re looking for new ways to create great experiences for your customers this year, or new ways to market yourself, give Facebook Messenger a shot. It may be the missing puzzle piece you need to succeed even more in 2018.

Lead Image by freestocks.org via Pexels.

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16 Comments

Tune in 6 months from now for the follow-up article, "How Much Time Should You Spend on Facebook Messenger?" Welcome to the contact method of the month club. Mail... so 1970's of you. E-mail... it's not the late 80's and 90's? Facebook... oh so 00's of you. Instagram... the 10's are almost over. Point being, balance your time, make sure you don't lose business because your target audience uses a communications method that you've never heard of, and if you find yourself spending too much time on social media... you've probably fallen down the rabbit hole, get yourself out. Unless of course social media is your primary source of income...

Joe Healey's picture

Thanks for the article Danette. I've shied away from a Facebook business page only because I see some of the most beautiful photography pages with gorgeous content that gets 2 likes and very little interaction. And I never understood this. With Messenger as it works now, are you able to mass message (or essentially Spam) users of the service? I'm confused about that. Thanks!

Danette Chappell's picture

Thanks for reading Joe! You are able to send out mass messages to those who choose to “subscribe” to your messages. Just like email newsletters so it isn’t considered spam so long as the people you’re sending a mass message to have subscribed and essentially asked to be sent messages from you. :) Regarding the gorgeous content and little interaction, sadly gorgeous content isn’t enough to cause people to engage. The content needs to be valuable, offering advice, education, or special rates for services in order to cause engagement and should include a call to action!

Leigh Miller's picture

B.S.

This is part of the reason why we are now racing to the bottom. Spend more time creating good/great work. Plenty of us make fantastic livings with the basics of running a good business and not gimmicks.

Danette Chappell's picture

The issue with creating great work with no marketing strategy is because of the algorithm. Great work won’t get seen. Plus, professional photography is such a saturated market, great work gets lost in a sea of lots of great work. Marketing isn’t a gimmick, it’s a way to get in front of more clients. And as technology and social media grows and transforms, the way we do business and market ourselves has to grow and transform as well. This is yet another way to help our businesses grow and succeed.

Leigh Miller's picture

Beggin' your pardon...but I think you are conflating two things.

Popular Photography (instagram, Facebook etc) with Professional Photography (real work..advertising etc across all industries that PROFESSIONALS create).

Popular photography depends on social media and by design it tends to get lost as people chase their tails to post four times a day. Add to that all the travel to exotic places and depicting phoney lifestyles isn't sustainable unless you are wealthy. Some brands will pay popular photography purveyors to highlight their products/services on social media..as will resorts, airlines etc. This has very little to do with Professional Photography except that a camera is used to show what a glamorous time you are having while the rest of us slave in the cold of Winter lol...

While I don't deny that marketing yourself is important, we can just go ahead and lose the idea that if your not on "this" or "that" platform your gonna miss the boat.

....the great race to the bottom.

Vincent Alongi's picture

I get some of what you're conveying... but the world is addicted to social media. It's a great way to cultivate your brand.

If you're pooh-poohing Facebook and/or IG, what's your alternative in terms of cost-effectively getting yourself out there? And of course, today it's Facebook / IG... tomorrow something new. But just like moving from film to digital, the industry and how professionals market themselves will need to evolve as well.

Again, what's an alternative strategy?

Leigh Miller's picture

This will blow your mind!

It's not a new concept but what works for me is this: Determine what your ideal client/customer is and find out where they go for research/advice when they need services like yours. My customers don't spend their time on Facebook except to trade jokes and vacation pictures...ditto for IG.

I pay the bills by actively cultivating word of mouth. I call potential cust/clients at least 20 per day unless I'm travelling and I ask for referrals. I drop in at local agencies and leave comp/bus cards. That among other things...

I shot 10 weddings last year purely on referrals. The clients met, discussed and pretty much said "let's do it, oh by the way do you have anymore samples of your work?". That tells me that "MY" interested parties aren't searching for what they need on social media. They are talking to friends, family..work friends to get a lead on what they want. FB, IG, YT all help in showing your work to others but it's hardly a "must do or you will miss the boat" thing.

ABW: Always Be Working

Vincent Alongi's picture

Awesome stuff. Now that's making things happen ;)

Interesting I saw this today. Just two days ago I posted a message on my Business Facebook page encouraging contacts to not send me a message via the messenger. Maybe I’m doing something wrong but I constantly have issues with Facebook messages sent though my business page. I get the same issues no mater what platform (iOS, Android, Win Desktop). I will get notification of messages coming through but then can’t find the messages. When I read a message it isn’t cleared from the notification menu. These are just a couple of issues. Lucky most dont’ contact me via messenger because it drive me nuts. Facebook is becoming a non factor for me.

Danette Chappell's picture

Crazy! That’s gotta be frustrating!

I'm not paranoid, but I've never signed up for Messenger because I just couldn't stand FB harvesting even more of my information. The issue pretty much went away when I also stopped using FB almost a year ago, which among other things, gave me 20 more hours a week to find clients in other ways.

Good points made here by Danette. You have to change up approaches many times as you navigate social's moving target. I hate how facebook is the 800lb gorilla that every person, product, every company has to be on. Instead of your website you have to have a presence on FB and that's too much power over us.It is what it is, I get it. It just had way too much power. Using messenger the way she describes right nw is a good idea.

David Stephen Kalonick's picture

I haven't been in one conversation with friends, family, etc. that involved a positive mention about FB. I would argue that FB is on the decline.

Vincent Alongi's picture

Facebook is definitely the elephant in the corner of the room. But... everyone who slams the hell out of it is usually on it and addicted in some way. And that's why they're slamming it- because of the addiction. Bottom line, if you don't have a social media (Facebook) presence, you're somehow shorting yourself. A great website is one thing, but Facebook can be more interactive and give a client a warmer feeling about you - if you're willing to put in the time to use it the right way.

I say this from the consumer side of things. Right after great customer service, there's nothing that gives me a better feeling about a small business than an owner willing to partake in discussion, feedback and conversation.

As distracting as Facebook can be, I personally feel it's one of the greatest technology innovations of the last generation.

Anonymous's picture

Facebook is just dead period.