When someone needs to hire a photographer, how do they find one? Regardless of whether it’s for a wedding, corporate material, senior pictures, sporting event, or editorial need, they probably follow this path:
- A photographer they have previously hired.
- A referral from a trusted source.
- Someone they personally know who is a photographer.
- Someone they don’t know personally, but is known as being proficient as a photographer.
- A cold call based on the photography results of a search (search engine, etc).
- A cold call to a random search result.
Five years ago, your position on that list was dictated by your past clientele and your physical activities – what events and groups you’d travel to, and where you’d devote dedicated time to build your network a few people at a time.
Fast-forward to our current environment. Social media such as Twitter and Facebook can help you end up in the number two spot on that list. A few days ago at Beer and Blog, I had a conversation with a real estate professional, talking with her about using Twitter to build relationships. By following local folks on Twitter, learning a bit about them (and sharing a bit about yourself), you’ll develop some personal connections. If you’re also sharing some of your photography experiences, those people will get to know you as someone that produces great pictures.
This is the value in the casual conversations on Twitter and Facebook. While sharing about your family, your hobbies, or your feelings won’t directly sell any photography services, you’ll be laying the foundation to build relationships. When your contacts start thinking about photography, instead of picking a name based on a Google search, they’ll come to you. When others mention needing a photographer, your contacts will refer those people to you.
And then, after you’ve won the business due to the social media referral, you’ll end up at the top spot on that list. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Photo by Horia Varlan, used under Creative Commons licensing