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Q: What social networking tools do you use? Do you immediately adopt new ones or do you assess how useful they’ll be before you dedicate your time to them?
A: Right now I use Facebook, Twitter, and of course… the [ b ] School.com. And no, I wouldn’t say I am an early adopter. I kind of check things out and I may not even sign up the first time I see something. I never had a MySpace account (seemed like it was mostly for 13-year-old girls). A lot of my friends joined Facebook a good 6 months or so before I finally gave in. Same thing with Twitter. But now that I’m on there, I use Twitter and Facebook every day, and I am stoked about what we’re building at the [ b ] School, a social network designed specifically for wedding and portrait photographers.
Q: How should photographers think about tools like Twitter and Facebook in relation to their photography business? Are they like advertising? An extended bio page? Ways to grow a contact list?
A: They are just new ways to connect with people: friends, clients, colleagues. Just like with blogs, sites like Facebook and Twitter give people a glimpse at your real life and personality, but in a more organic and real way. My status updates on FB and Twitter drive a considerable amount of traffic to my blog, my website, or to wherever else I choose.
I also figure since I’ve done the work prepping an image in Photoshop for my blog, why not also post it on Facebook where I can tag any friends or clients who are in the image, which then prompts them to check out my work. And of course every image I post online includes a watermark of my [ b ] logo and website url — that way if the images gets reposted anywhere else on the web, at least people will know where it came from…www.beckersblog.com.
Q: You have 4,500+ followers on Twitter. How did you make that happen and how do you utilize those connections?
A: I assume a lot of people followed me when I posted a link to my Twitter page on my blog. I also have an embedded widget on my blog that shows my latest tweet as well as a link to www.twitter.com/thebecker. I usually get well over 5,000 blog hits per day, so as people join Twitter, the ones who frequent my blog usually follow me too. I don’t tweet every blog post, just the ones I find most interesting, and then it is also automatically uploaded to my Facebook status. So whether you are one of my 4,500+ followers on Twitter, or one of my 4,800 Facebook friends, my updates will show up on your page with an easy-to-click link that will take you straight to the content that I want to share with you. They say “your network is your net worth,” so I am constantly trying to grow my network.
Q: How do you use your blog and what do you post there?
A: My blog is actually about my entire life, not just photography. When I first started blogging back in 2005, it was just a way for my folks and a few close friends to see what I’ve been up to and check out my latest work. Then in 2006, as blogging got popular and more and more people were blogging, it did prove to be quite a useful tool to sharing information and driving traffic to my sites. My blog gets about nine times as much traffic as my actual website, www.thebecker.com. Blogs are very search engine friendly, and I’ve got quite a few bookings out of some rather random searches that drove someone to my blog.
While I do try to post a few images from every single shoot that I do, I also just post about things that are going on in my life — whether it’s about my niece and nephew, something fun I did with friends, a movie review, a poker story, or just anything I find interesting and feel like sharing. It’s kinda like reality TV. I think people in America are very voyeuristic and like to see what other people are doing… it’s human nature… kinda like a soap opera.
Q: If I were a skeptical photographer who just didn’t see how a blog, Facebook, or Twitter could be worth my time, how would you convince me?
A: Well, it’s not really my job to convince you. There are lots of people who just give me blank stares when I try to explain what Twitter is and why it is useful. Not everyone gets it and that’s okay. In the last 6-9 months, I know of at least a half-dozen bookings I got as a direct result of social networking.
A couple came from tagging images in Facebook, having it show up on the bride’s friend’s news feeds and them seeing my work and finding my blog. And I am talking about old high school friends…not even someone who is still close to the bride or was at the wedding, just someone who used to know one of my brides. Facebook keeps them connected, my work gets out there, and I book jobs. Every once in a while I’ll, tweet about dates that I am still available and ask for photographers to send me referrals. I don’t do it too often as I don’t want to wear out my welcome, but I have gotten jobs that way, and likewise given out solid leads through Twitter.