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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 (www.EthanTweedie.com) 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Lorhman is the founder of the PFRE website, blog, and community. Over the decades, he came to be known as one of the founding influencers in the real estate photography industry. He is the author of many books, including the popular “The Business of Real Estate Photography“.