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How Can Real Estate Photographers Use Social Media to Promote Their Business?

Published: 25/07/2018

Daniel recently asked:

I have a question in regards to real-estate photographers and social marketing. I've been in business for 5 years now but have never done ANY type of advertising (besides maybe a handful of business cards). I've recently created a FaceBook page for my business but it's constantly blank as I seem to have a hard time finding material to post onto my site. I'm curious what type of content people are posting to their pages. Would it be acceptable to post an image of a property I've recently shot with a grabbing headline and possibly a link to Zillow or Realtor?

I keep running across beginning real estate photographers who don't have a portfolio website of their own. I want to start by stressing how important it is to have your own website where you can create your brand and show your work. Being active on social media does not replace a website!

To answer Daniel's question my first reaction is to point at a photographer that is doing a great job of using social media to promote their business. I think Ethan Tweetie ( is a good example of how to use social media to bring people to your website. Ethan has explicitly told me that social media is working for him. You can see for yourself by simply Googling "luxury real estate photographer". If you are in the US, Ethan's name will likely be on the first page towards the top of the search results (Google results are location dependent). It's clear that Ethan is doing a good job at this his recent Google+ post points out his photos are in the July 2015 Architectural Digest for the second time this year.

So I think it is possible to look at Ethan's use of the various social media sites and see how he uses it. Here is my summary:

  1. A portfolio website is at the center of your social media strategy: First of all, Ethan's website is at the very center of his social media. That is, the reason for using social media is to get traffic to your website. He has a great website with a beautiful design that features his portfolios in all areas of his work. The site also has a blog so he can post articles and stories about what he is doing. His posts on social media are concise and link to a full article on the subject on the blog section of his site. This brings traffic that is attracted to his work from the various social media sites to his site where they can see all his work.
  2. A strong portfolio--quality matters: He only puts the strongest images in his portfolio and then posts those strong images on the social media sites--even though those images may be years old. When I first noticed, it took me a while to understand what he was doing. A strong image is a strong image no matter when you shot it. The point here is that people are attracted to great images just like butterflies to bright flowers.
  3. A presence on all the major social sites: You can go to all of Ethan's social media sites from the buttons at the bottom of the front page of his site. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Houzz, Vimeo, Linkedin.
  4. Social posts for businesses are relatively business  oriented: You don't need to have massive numbers of posts on a business social media account. Just create a continued presence and respond to others. Don't post a photo every day. Only post high-quality photos from your portfolio.
  5. Be aware that you can lose control of your copyright when posting photos on social media sites: Joel Rothman's post goes into detail about how this works. So you need to be selective in which photos you post to social media.
  6. Flickr is not a social media site in the same sense as Twitter and FaceBook, Instagram and Linkedin are: Flickr is more of a photo sharing site that doesn't have mechanisms to drive traffic to your portfolio website like Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin or FaceBook do.
  7. As the video at the top explains, don't post negative things on social media.

So the strategy of social media is to bring traffic to your site where potential clients can see the full power and breadth of your work.

Ethan is a PFRE coach and if you are interested in getting into more details of how Ethan uses social media, he will be happy to coach anyone on how to use social media to build your photography business. You can contact him via the PFRE coaching page.

Larry Lohrman

22 comments on “How Can Real Estate Photographers Use Social Media to Promote Their Business?”

  1. Had to jump in on this one - I do IG daily and have on average 17K-18K followers. I get business from both IG and FB since IG shares into FB. Now that being said - the BEST in our industry using social media especially IG is: Matt uses this medium to gain business and promote his business and his clients business. He does this extremely well and has grown to around 51K followers on IG. IG is free - doing IG stories videos while at your shoot is a great way to promote your business along with the REALTORS newest listing and if your REALTOR does not know how to do IG Stories - you can teach them and help them along their way to the world of FREE social media advertising. Also with Linktree you can customize your IG profile to send folks to certain places on your website or other links that you want to direct them along with YouTube, LinkedIn etc.... EVERYONE should be doing this to first promote their business and also promote their clients listings. This is free and takes about 3 minutes at a photo shoot to do.

    My two cents worth because I believe in social media to promote your business along with your clients business and it's simple, fun, fast and FREE!

  2. Instagram is the ticket for photographer advertising. All you need to do is search realtor and a local city or real estate and the local city. The images that will come up will be from realtors in that city. They make it with a hashtag. Then follow every one. Instagram limits you to 200 follows a day so it will take a while to get all of them. But about 10% will follow you back. Then plaster your instagram with your work and your info. It's free advertising and it gets your work in front of potential customers. I do get business from this tactic.

  3. Social media is NOT free. When you sign up, you agree to transfer unlimited rights to all of the content you post on those sites including the right to sub-license your work without credit or compensation. Some like Ethan use it to drive people to their own web site and limit the media they post on the social media site to limit the exposure they have to losing control of that property. That can be a tactic that works for some and not at all for others.

    I don't participate in social media at all. My customers are local to my area, not half way around the world. I can't pay bills with followers and likes. I also can't spend the time to wade through feedback, mail and messages from people that will never be a customer or colleague. I'm much better off spending my time visiting open houses on the weekends and writing thank you letters on Mondays and Tuesdays if I am not working on jobs. As an independent photographer working in a limited (though large) region, I find it better to spend time identifying customers and marketing to them directly rather than relying on any sort of website or service to bring them to me. I still have a website and every photographer should have one these days, but if I don't have the time to do as much with it as I'd like, there is no way I have hours more each day to deal with social media.

  4. A very interesting subject! I wil NOT have anything to do with FB, WhatsApp, Instagram or any other of these social media sites!!
    A few of years ago I was warned by a New York attorney* about the pitfalls of such platforms. After receiving his information and advice I immediately removed all my images from FB. The other platforms I never used anyway. I kept my FB account open just to communicate with my previous working collegues in the days when I was employed.
    After the major security incident with FB recently, which by the way was not an accident, I immediately CLOSED my accounts.

    What's wrong with FB? Nothing with respect getting people together but many people don't read the small print when they open an account, I didn't either!
    When one signs up to FB (Instagram, whatsapp belong to FB) you AGREE to the following conditions;

    FB as well as their affiliiate companies may use anything you post as they deem fit. This includes any images you post. You AGREE they may use any of the images including your profile image for the purpose of product advertising, licensing etc. WITHOUT ANY FINANCIAL REWARD FOR THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER!!!!!

    FB do NOT make info available out of the goodness of their heart but SELL IT!!!

    Just imagine one day driving along a promenade when you observe a giant hoarding with your FB profile picture advertising toilet cleaner or some other morbidity, meaning "you" have endorsed this product. Your financial reward? NOT A CENT!

    During my time on FB I did NOT receive one single business enquiry - such a waste of time.

    *If anyone wants the link to the info I mentioned I can provide this - free of charge of course!

  5. This is such a great subject especially for new real estate photographers. I received a call from an oil company in Louisiana last week wanting a photographer to photograph their new 52 wheel rig and new facility in a town nearby. I called them, we spoke about the project and then she told me that I was everywhere online, Google, Yelp, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn ect.... It was nice to hear because I pay an SEO every month to keep me higher on the lists. I have not yet created an add on Google but I am considering it as Google announced yesterday their post to clicks were up 58%!

    When I put photos of social media, I only put watermarked ones. I realize there are apps that are able to remove them but I then also have a record of the image with my watermark.

    Houzz, when it first came out, was a great resource for new clients. Unfortunately it is now too big and photographers are buried on the site. I think it all has to do with the quantity of the sites you are on and that people see you repeatedly and you become more recognizable.

    It is working for me!

  6. I got a call yesterday from Yelp, while not strictly social media. Coincidentally, this guy was from the same office as another agent who'd be referred to me the same day and the two agents didn't know each other, so when I asked him if my friend referred him, he said, "Who? No, I found you on Yelp."

    Interestingly enough, I created the most basic profile and added my info and have done nothing with it since.

  7. @Ken - re: I don’t participate in social media at all. My customers are local to my area, not half way around the world.

    Absolutely correct, which is why we don't participate in social media except for Twitter. We used to do Facebook and LinkedIn but it was a big waste of time. Twitter is a more of a place to post listings we shot and current news in the RE marketplace.

    Our clientele is also very localized so we don't need to advertise worldwide. We do our social media outside of the Internet by circulating literature on our services firsthand to realtors and agents in this area and that works best for us. Showing an agent our website images on an iphone while visiting their open house always gets a "wow, these are really nice!"

    I would suggest to someone who is just starting out, don't get too overly involved in social media sites. Spend more time marketing your services directly to the agents in your area. Get some flyers made up that display your work and detail your services/pricing and hand them out to agents at their open houses and drop them off at RE offices. Meeting someone firsthand is the best way to create a good impression.

  8. The only problem with advertising locally is that you might miss the clients who are not local but looking for real estate or architectural photographers in your area as they have a summer home near you or their company has a building that needs photos near you.

    In this day and age, almost everyone is going online for their information. For a fact I know that flyers distributed to local real estate offices usually get thrown in the trash. Real estate offices receive so many of these that they barely look at them.

    Email is also going to go by the wayside in the near future. Contact will be by private messaging through places like Facebook, Linkedin ect... I am holding on to email for as long as possible as I like to keep folders on each job and I am able to go back and review things from time to time.

    Look I am a dinosaur in this industry now and doing my best to keep up with the new technology. It is a constant job and sometimes very interesting. Don't knock social media for added advertising until you have tried it.

  9. Teri makes a great point of out of town business finding you online via social media or other reputable channels. I frequently get calls from agents in cities that are an hour or two away from my market area. Sometimes the agent is listing a property for a family member, co-listing a large project, or something unique. When this happens they usually go online and google "real estate photographer in " and if you pop up and answer the call, good chance you just gained some business. Personally I think LinkedIn is a great form of professional social media and a nice platform to share your work and find clients.

  10. While I used FaceBook when I first got started......
    I'm in TOTAL agreement with Ken Brown.
    Social media might be popular with many, but it's far from perfect and filled with many potholes.

    I'm "busy enough" with my loyal following and don't have a presence on any of them.

  11. "Just imagine one day driving along a promenade when you observe a giant hoarding with your FB profile picture advertising toilet cleaner or some other morbidity, meaning “you” have endorsed this product. Your financial reward? NOT A CENT!"

    @Desmond, a photo of a person has to be released, so you aren't going to see your image on a package of Tidy Bowl. You could see an image of a kitchen that you photographed advertising a cabinet shop or appliance store. You may also see a site that shows images of homes along side of a "Street View" image in a mapping application or a Real Estate Book service that have incorporated images sold by a social media site.

    There is somewhere online a video or audio clip of M. Zuckerberg flat out stating that the purpose of FB is to collect and sell personal information. This was recorded before the company went public. That sums up what the business model of social media is. They do make money from advertising and selling things, but the major portion of their income comes from selling user information. Some of the biggest customers of that data are other companies that aggregate it with other information publicly available such as court records, birth certificates, deeds, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these companies also buy information on the Dark Web. Since you have also agreed to be tracked outside of sites such as FB, it's very scary the quantity and quality of the information that exists on all of us.

  12. Everyone is different, that's obvious. So, we can't agree all the time. However, I still stand by my original post re: social media. After ten yrs in the industry, and we've tried it all, having one hat in the SM ring is enough. However, I did get a commercial shoot from an out-of-towner via a post in DPChallenge where I'm a member. But it was a one-shot deal. We also have a good friend who is an agent who is carving out a niche in the Upper Bucks Co/NJ/NYC market and has opened some doors for us. So, it's a variety of things that gets you the business.

  13. Ok - I have received business from my IG account from "Area" Realtors and FSBO and Homeowners wanting to sell their home and told their REALTOR they wanted to use my firm because they saw what we showcased on IG and FB. Because of our IG Stories that we do while on site, we have have the two Top listing agents for waterfront property in our area because they saw us on social media and made it it look fun and they wanted to use us and have now for several years. I know that it's not for everyone, but when a following REALTOR in Cali see you on IG and tells her friend back in DC about us and to contact us for their listing photos, video and drone, well that's what social media does for those that use it to promote their business. You never know when you are on vacation, and a REALTOR in that area see's your feed on IG and text you - hey, you're here, can you photograph my listing? I follow you in IG and like what you do. It's a matter of choice and for my business it works for us!

  14. I'm someone just starting out and find the comments on both sides interesting. I’ve done some marketing on FB (not for my own site) but for a dear friend in another photography niche. Haven’t found it to be all that effective and certainly didn’t get the majority of followers for free. The membership on this page was mainly built with paid targeted advertising and from what I can tell, with FB changing its rules in recent months, even paid advertising seems to be reaching fewer people. I’ve got a FB page ready if I need it but will begin marketing more directly to find customers.

  15. For what it's worth, I think Facebook marketing is essentially pointless and yields next to nothing. Instagram seems to work well (non-paid, just organic). LinkedIn is very polished and directed towards professional social media only; as mentioned above it's a nice resource for marketing. Utilizing Google+ is interesting solely because it helps your Google search engine ranking, the actual platform of social media is a graveyard on Google+. I definitely think it's worth it to streamline social media utilization, dedicate maybe 10 minutes a day to managing/posting on a few sites, and be happy when paying gigs show up.

  16. Interesting that Facebook is in the news today with losses of $123 billion in value. Evidently, there are barely more people checking Facebook every day compared to the previous quarter. They seem to be relying on Instagram as the future of the company but there are no guarantees that Instagram can generate enough money. Most likely the beginning of the end for these social media sites.

  17. Just want to add for whatever it's worth, having years of social media usage under my belt I find Twitter the overall best place to be.

  18. I built my business, 10 years ago, using social media. I created a database of local real estate agents in the areas we work and each morning I send an eblast to each of these agents, highlighting the new listings I shoot, when they hit the market. I promote the open houses of the homes I photograph on Facebook and Twitter. I have a business Facebook page and a personal page. I post photos of the homes I shoot . From time to time I will post photos on my personal page since I have a lot of REALTOR friends follow me on my personal and business pages. Now most of business comes as repeat and referral business but a few years ago 72 % of our new business came from social media.

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