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How to Get More Photography Bookings: A Step-by-Step Guide to Advertising on Facebook

Getting started in wedding photography can be rather frustrating as without a name for yourself no one knows about you. The solution is Social Media advertising, and I have used Facebook in this way extensively since starting my business Nick Church Photography 18 Months ago. While I am confident in the quality of my product and service, the rapid rise of my business has definitely been helped by Facebook’s advertising platform. I currently have 68 bookings in the diary, and while organic enquiries through word of mouth and recommendations are now coming in, 60 of these bookings were directly from a targeted Facebook advert.

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It can be tricky to set up an advert on Facebook the first time, but in this blog I will be walking you through setting up the advert, avoiding the pitfalls and countless options, and make it work efficiently for you to start the enquiries coming in. I’ll also be explaining how JPEGmini forms part of my workflow, whether it’s 20 shots for a Facebook advert or 500 Wedding images.

Analytics: It’s all about the ‘Likes’

You may have noticed that social media makes quite a fuss about what you ‘like’. Tracking shares, comments, and likes are big business as this ‘analytics’ combines with personal data to tell these platforms what you are into. As advertisers on Facebook, you can use all this data to target only people that are likely to be interested in your product which is very cost-effective. Facebook charges for every person that sees or interacts with the advert, so you want to ensure you’ve got the best chance of meaningful traction from the victim… Err, I mean, potential client!

The key metric you need to look at is CPC (cost-per-click) or CPI (cost-per-impression) which indicates the amount the advert cost for each person to interact with it. Successful campaigns will have low values here indicating you are maximising the proportion of the number of people that are actually interested in your advert.

Setting up your Facebook Advert

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Your Facebook advert will be handled by Facebook’s Adverts Manager accessible from your Facebook Profile. There is an Adverts Manager iOS and Android App, which is useful for tracking and monitoring performance, but with fewer options and less real-estate, I recommend the PC/Laptop Browser version.

Adverts Manager is used to achieve specific goals such as to ‘increase the number of ‘likes’ to your page’, ‘attract people to your website’, or ‘offer promotion’. I’ve tried most of them and the best performing option for me has been ‘Increasing engagement on a Facebook post’. This option uses a standard Facebook post and so does not restrict the number of images or text, and allows photographers to get lots of images in front of potential clients. So to promote a post we need to create one on our Facebook Business Page.

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1. Decide your target market

BUT, before we start our post, we must decide who we are trying to reach, as you want to tailor your post for the group of people you will later target with Advert Manager. The theory goes that in advertising, one-size-fits-all does not work well as while no one may find your advert horrible, no one will engage with it either; you are better off creating targeted ads and aiming them at an audience selected to match the advert. For a wedding photographer like me that likely means deciding which gender, sexuality, age and location you want to target with a particular advert. Of course, multiple adverts can be created and run concurrently to these individual groups. Using Advert Manager’s dashboards you can see which of these campaigns are most successful for your particular product.

2. Creating your Advert Post

When you’re creating your targeted post, you need to think about what images will appeal to this target group. The image ordering is important too because only the first four will be shown on the advert unless someone clicks on it, so put the strongest images first. The first image appearing in the advert is usually bigger, so this should be something that really shows your style at its best. Facebook will limit the way it distributes adverts with any text on, this even applies to big L.O.V.E letters, so exclude those photos. I use JPEGmini as part of all my workflows. The Pro version’s ability to plug into Lightroom export system is priceless, so every image I create for Facebook Adverts is so much smaller than usual and I have a theory that this means Facebook is less likely to compress your image itself and lose valuable quality. Smaller file sizes are particularly valuable when I’m trying to post adverts over a mobile connection on the train. Facebook does not show images more than 2048 pixels (longest length) so there is no point exporting at a larger size, in addition to using JPEGmini, save your bandwidth by exporting only at this size.

Your post must tell your future clients about your service, why they should choose you and any offer that you might be running, but without being too wordy. I have found that clients on Facebook are looking for a bargain, and so I always add a 10% discount code. Don’t worry about cheapening your brand at this stage. As Nick Church Photography has become more successful I have increased my prices but continue to offer the 10% discount, as I know this translates into bookings.

Ensure your advert has a strong call to action such as ‘contact me for a quote’. The worse crime is to get someone looking at your advert, but they don’t know what to do next, so they move on!

As these adverts are just Facebook Posts, you can see examples of mine at www.facebook.com/nickchurchphotography give me a like while you’re there!

3. Promoting your post using Advert Manager

So you have a post featuring your best work and some slick text targeting your chosen group, a nice snappy offer, and a call-to-action. Now we need to show it to the world… or the world that you define in Advert Manager containing only your chosen target people.

You can see here all the different Objectives that can be met with Advert Manager, you can try them all over time, but let’s start with an advertising campaign with the goal of increasing ‘Engagement with a Facebook Post’ (the post we created above) by selecting the options shown. Give the Campaign we are about to create a meaningful name to make managing it easier from Advert Manager and click ‘Continue’.

4. Creating an Advert Set

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The next page is used to define your Advert Set. This simply defines the Audience (your target group), the advert.

By grouping these things together you can have multiple Advert Sets per campaign so you can trial various target groups with different adverts to see which one performs the best. If you are only doing a single advert, then this is not relevant as you’ll only be creating a single Advert Set. Again, choose a sensible name to identify it among other sets of the same campaign. There are a lot of options in here, but we’ll go through them one-by-one.

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5. Where are your clients: Defining the Audience

This first section is what gives you powerful control over the people whose feeds will see your advert and those that do not. Click ‘Edit’ to create a new audience

Use the map controls to define a region to serve the advert. As you can see from my example region, you can add multiple selections to perfectly craft the areas that you want to reach. There is no point advertising outside the area that would are prepared to travel. But also remember you pay for everyone who sees your advert, if people start to decide you are too far away and do not respond in good numbers then this has not been optimal.

6. Who are your clients: Narrowing by Age and Gender

I get better results in targeting only Women for wedding photography – most photographers will agree that they do not get contacted by many grooms, so for no point for me in advertising to them specifically, but each photographer’s work speaks to different people, so don’t take my word as gospel here.

Also, in previous campaign results Advert Manager told me that women over 45 and under 23 are less likely to respond to my adverts so I use this age group. An advert tailored to older women, with appropriate content may perform very well, it’s just not my market so I limit things to improve my audience.

7. Smaller, better audiences: More Detailed Targeting

The current audience will be large – so we need to narrow it down. The obvious thing to do for Wedding Photography is to limit it to couples that have listed themselves as engaged. To do this Browse for Demographics->Relationship->Relationship Status->Engaged. Or alternatively try life-events->newly engaged. I have had success with both.

You can add all sorts of other targeting – perhaps you want to select a particular income bracket, or people that are looking at wedding venues. In my experience, there is no benefit to narrowing down more than this; I think by narrowing down you exclude as many possible clients as you gain, but again your mileage may vary.

Finally, through the Connections option, you can ignore people that like your page; sensible as arguably they will see the post anyway without being served it by Facebook.

8. Advert Placements

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The Placements section lets you choose where the Advert will appear on your audience’s feed, and you can tailor I personally never look at the adverts on the right-hand pane on the desktop feed, so I exclude this, but otherwise leave everything as default. I trust Facebook to decide how to best serve my advert to get a response. In principle if a particular placement does not work, then Facebook will stop serving the advert in that way.

Once you have selected your audience and your targeting the ‘Audience Size’ panel gives you an idea of how many people are in your audience (called the ‘Reach’). Helpfully it also tells you how many of these it will be able to get to every day, so this can help inform your pricing.

9. Budget and Schedule

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It all gets rather complicated. If the reach is 30,000, and it says you can hit 10,000 every day with a particular budget, you would think in 3 days you have got everyone. This is not true for a variety of reasons; Facebook knows which users that are most likely to respond to adverts, so it targets them first. Also, people often only respond after seeing the advert a number of times so the same people may get hit with your advert a number of times and some people none at all. You can change the way Facebook tries to do this, and you can set it to attempt to get as many of the 30,000 as possible (maximise daily reach) or will get the advert less strategically in front of as many people as possible and as many times (impressions). But my advice for beginners is: don’t try to beat the system, just go with the default which is Post Engagement; let Facebook decide who is likely to comment, share, like your post.

Going cheap is probably the largest mistake I made. It seems that ‘dipping your toe in’ does not work. Give yourself a good chance of getting high reach. Don’t forget, through Advert Manager, you can stop the advert (and stop being charged) at any time if it is not working.

My personal rule is to set your budget so that your daily reach of around one-quarter your total audience and then let it run for 8-10d. For me, this is usually around £200, but I would expect to secure 5-6 bookings from this so it’s good value. You can also change the time that you are charged, but my advice is to leave these options well alone.

It is also tempting to change delivery schedule (time of the day to serve the advert) to try to reach more people at a time when they are likely to engage. But don’t leave it as default. Facebook know when people are most likely to respond, so leave it to them to do it.

Click Continue to get us to the actual advert we are going to send around.

10. Page and Post

The next stage is simply to select the post that we created at the start and to check how it looks on the different platforms.

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This is a downside to promoting an existing Facebook Post as a campaign objective. If there is something wrong in the post, the only option is to go back and re-write the post and start the advert again. Not a major problem as it’s much faster the next time as you have saved the audience, but annoying nonetheless. To minimise this problem, keep word count down, and put headline info such as a deal at the start of the post and make sure the post is correct before you start!

And that’s it. When you submit, the advert will get reviewed and within a few minutes it will start to be broadcast across Facebook and the enquiries will come in. As a side benefit, as well as the bookings I get, I collect around 200 likes for this 2-week period. These are people that will now see your future posts without paying for more adverts.

I am really pleased to partner with JPEGmini for this blog post, I hope it’s been useful. JPEGmini is one of those tools that every photographer needs to have – even if they do not know it yet! JPEGmini performs the magic of reducing the image size by up to 80% but does so without visually affecting image quality. It really is a free lunch! I am able to use a lower tier service for my client image delivery platform due to the way JPEGmini has reduced filesize, so it’s paid for itself many times over. As a bonus, this also means 500 wedding photos take less than half the time to upload to the client.

Please check out my feeds and get in touch if you would like to discuss any of this:
www.nickchurchphotography.co.uk
www.facebook.com/nickchurchphotography