Playing The Long Game In Social Media Marketing

I want you to start booking more shoots through Instagram. More specifically, I want you to grow your influence, find the clients that suit your brand and turn them into a tribe of followers so loyal they will follow you anywhere!

Social media has always been an important marketing tool for us as photographers and I think Instagram might be one of the best options we have available today. We have the opportunity to constantly put new work in front of people who mesh with our style and values. We have a chance to gain influence and educate followers long before they become our clients.

But here’s the catch. It takes time.

Spoiler alert: I don’t believe in get rich quick schemes and I won’t be selling you on one today.

There. I said it. If you’re reading this article looking for me to promise you a gain of “40,000 followers in five minutes,” with our top-secret marketing ingredient, well; you’ve come to the wrong place.

I say that now just to make sure that we’re all absolutely clear on the main point I’d like to make — As photographers, I think we’re far better off to play the long game when it comes to social media marketing.

There are no substitutions for a quality product, consistently put forward to a specific target audience over a long period of time.

I’ve become convinced that “quick fixes” for marketing photography are just like drinking instant coffee; they might get you a cup in a hurry, but it will taste like crap and you’ll wind up wishing you’d just taken the time to do it properly in the first place.

With that said, I believe there are a few things that you can start implementing on your Instagram account that will make a world of difference for you in the long run. Here are a few thoughts on how we use Instagram to educate our tribe and book more shoots!

Stop Spamming!

Okay, so you just photographed this amazing wedding on the top of a mountain and after editing the session you highlight 10 photographs you simply NEED to share on Instagram. That’s awesome, you should totally do that. Just don’t share all 10 at once.

That’s what I mean by spamming. Posting a whole boatload of images all at once so that there is nothing else on your followers feed, but your kick-ass photos of a gorgeous bride on the top of a mountain.

We all know photographers who do this. For the most part I don’t think they are spamming like this on purpose- their intentions are good. Misguided maybe, but good. They’re just super excited about their work and want to get it onto Instagram so that people can enjoy how amazing it is!

But, posting a high volume of photos all at one time is annoying to your followers. It can turn people off from interacting with your work and even cause an instant unfollow if it’s really obnoxious.

Instead, email yourself all 10 of those photos with the subject line “Insta” and commit to sharing one or two per day at your designated posting time. This will do two things: First, it will allow you to write a genuine story in the comment for each photograph (instead of something like, “here’s another one! Isn’t it awesome.”). This is far more engaging in the long run. People like to hear the stories associated with your images so, take the time and tell them what was going on!

Second, this will allow you to tell your story over a few days. After a day or two you’ll find that you have people who are genuinely following along and enjoying the story. You become top of mind, over a sustained period of time. That’s a very, very good thing.

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Rethink your posting times

Okay, so we have all placed our left hand on the bible, raised our right and solemnly pledged to never spam followers on Instagram again. Great, now we need to re-think the time of day when we’re going to engage with our clients.

I say this because, as photographers, it’s really easy to get into “marketing mode,” which can sometimes blind us to simple things that would be obvious to us otherwise. Like this simple rule: not all posting times are equal.

Think about your target client. What does their typical day look like? When are they on their phone? When are they at work? When are they busy with other things?

Imagine a simple night spent with your best friend, out under the stars! Recently Mark has been nerding out a bit (his words haha) reading about astral photography. But he really wanted wanted to include a couple in the photo too. He’s had this concept in his mind for a little while now after drawing from some inspiration online, and this week while the Milky Way has been the most visible (just before the new moon) he spent a couple of mornings out under the stars! This photograph was taken at 3:15am this morning, about 20 minutes south of Camrose (where there is less light pollution). We’re so happy with the results! Mark already has plans for another attempt on the next new moon 🙂 Special thanks to @briannalschultz And Jarren Schultz for letting Mark drag you both out of bed at 2:30 on a work night because it just had to happen this week! Oh, also on a cool side note: is there a better day to photograph galaxies than May 4th? #maythefourthbewithyou 🙂 6 second Exposure~On the SonyA7rii with 35mm~OCF to highlight couple Feel Free to tag~share~follow @sonyalphasclub

A post shared by Crown Photography (@crown_photo) on

Tracey handles all of our Instagram posting. And one of the things that she started to notice over time was that she was getting much better engagement when she posted quite late at night. Like somewhere around 9-10pm.

At first glance, this might seem crazy. I certainly thought it did. After all, conventional logic would say that you want more time left in the day so that the post gets more play. But then we started talking about who our clients were and what their lifestyle was. I quickly realized Tracey was totally right (and just for the record, she’s pretty much always right, so I should have just shut my mouth and agreed sooner). You see, our tribe is a group of young people around 24-40 years old, who work hard, may have kids and are very busy. Just like us, they often have things going on in the early evening. But what happens around 9 or 10PM? Well, life slows down. That’s the time of night that I usually crush Instagram. So, wouldn’t it make sense that our tribe would be doing the same thing!

Think about your tribe. Decide when you think they’re most likely to be using Instagram. Then post consistently on those times. For us, that’s first thing in the morning and later in the evening. That’s when we aim to get a majority of our posts up. Over time, it will make a difference in your interaction.

Consider adding video

I’m not saying become a pro videographer. I’m not even saying that you should be posting a lot of video on your Instagram account. I’m just saying that a video every once in awhile will spike interest. The fact that it’s a different way for your tribe to enjoy your creativity will cause people to stop and take notice.

Most DLSR cameras shoot video now. So, why not shoot a handful of clips and slice them together for a quick edit to use as a preview of a wedding you just shot? Or why not collaborate with a local videographer in your area. Shoot some new headshots for him or her and ask for a short (30-60 second) video of you interacting with clients on a shoot.

These are just a couple of ideas. But there are a large number of ways you can work to integrate video into your feed. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did!

Mark and Tracey Crown started their photography business – Crown Photography & Film in 2012. They work and live in Camrose, Alberta and shoot every wedding together.

Website: Crownphotography.CA