Social media marketing for your business might seem like the easiest thing in the world. After all, it means you can check Facebook every five seconds, guilt-free, because it’s for business—what’s better than that? But when you’re so used to the social aspects of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it can be easy to forget the marketing part of the equation, and that’s when etiquette snafus can happen. And word travels fast on social media, which is a good thing when you’re promoting an exciting holiday offer but not such a good thing when you accidentally put your foot in your mouth. But with a few simple dos and don’ts, you can keep your social media presence professional and polished, just like the rest of your biz.
DO treat it as a business relationship.
When you’re posting on your business page, don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in a client meeting. Focus on sharing your work, your expertise, and any current promotions. Steer clear of bringing up your beef with other photographers or ranting about the state of the industry or the costs of doing business. (Think of it this way: If a bride asked about your packages, would you rattle off all your overhead costs, or would you tell her what makes your service unique and invaluable?) It’s pretty much guaranteed that no potential client is going to say, “Wow, I really like how bitter she is about shoot-and-burn photographers—I have to hire her for my wedding!”
DON’T lose sight of your brand.
Before you post anything, ask yourself: What’s the purpose of this post? How will it help my business? Does it reflect my brand? If an image doesn’t fit your style, don’t share it. If you’re marketing yourself as a luxury service, don’t waste words on petty things like griping about bad clients, calling out your competition, or nitpicking your own images. (We recently saw a caption that began, “I still struggle with light…” Hello, that’s not an advertisement.) Instead, show your best work, rave about your newest products, or share inspiring stories from your local community. Ask yourself how this post might make someone more likely to hire you; if you don’t have an answer, don’t post it.
DO police your personal posts.
Okay, so you went on a little Twitter tirade or got into a rift in a photography group. But it’s your personal account, and your friends know you have strong opinions, so no biggie, right? Nope, sorry. As an artist, you are your business, and your behavior on personal pages and groups should reflect your professionalism. If you’re calling names, bashing photos, stirring up drama, or sharing kneejerk opinions, people might wonder if you’d treat your customers any differently. Keep your interactions polite, the same way you would at a dinner party. If someone says or does something you disagree with, decide if it’s really worth debating—is it important, or are you just trying to show off your own knowledge?—and if it is, consider doing it via private message rather than public shaming.
DON’T treat your business like a soapbox.
When you’re posting on your business page, follow the Linus rule if you can: Don’t discuss religion, politics, or the Great Pumpkin. Of course, we know it’s not always feasible to avoid hot-button topics. Maybe your spiritual beliefs have shaped your art. Maybe social awareness plays a big role in how you run your business. If you feel like you can’t be authentic without expressing your beliefs, go ahead—but proceed with caution. Be respectful and refrain from insulting the other side or, y’know, implying that anyone who disagrees is a freaking nutjob. Who knows? Your best client (or top referrer) might have very different views, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work together swimmingly.
DON’T feed the trolls.
If someone leaves a rude remark on your business page or starts acting like a straight-up stalker, you can always reach out and ask why they’re targeting you. But you also have the option of deleting their comment or banning them from your page. (They’ll still be able to view your page, but they’ll be blocked from posting or commenting.) Of course, if you’ve ignited a debate with an unpopular opinion or controversial photo, it’ll rub people the wrong way if you start deleting everyone who disagrees with you. But if you’re minding your business (literally) and one person always seems to have something negative to say, go ahead and give them the boot.
DO keep it positive.
Years ago, a friend said something that still rings true today: Just because you CAN, it doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Granted, he was referring to teenagers growing mustaches, but it’s actually a solid piece of advice for most things in life.
Bottom line: You have the right to do and say whatever you want on your business page, but you also have the responsibility to make sure you’re representing your business in a professional manner. Remember: If it would sound awkward in an advertisement, or if it’s too rude for a dinner party, keep it off of social media. The delete key is your friend; use it wisely when you’re tempted to rant. Make your business page a positive experience, so clients get excited to work with you.
Excited to learn more about how to ensure a well-rounded impression of your business and brand online? Check out our Essential Guide to Blogging for Photographers.
From a very early age I loved taking pictures and looking at them in magazines and books, but the art of photography captured my heart when I was a teenager, on my first overseas trip to Wales. From that point, I began shooting with a little film SLR and having my friend model for me. In college I took some digital photography and visual communication courses as part of my communication studies major, and decided to pursue a career in photography. I became a legal business and took my first paid client at age 20, and it's been quite a journey and adventure over the past nine years.
I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.