COM0011: Using images in your social media posts, 3 easy steps

Importance of imagery on social media

Let me ask you, when scrolling through your Facebook feed, how often do you stop to read a lengthy block of text? I can tell you my answer, and it’s ‘hardly ever’
In addition to that, unless you’ve read through that text, you’re not going to get the message let alone stop scrolling and ‘like’ it which would provide organic engagement.

Now let me ask you, how many times have you scrolled through your Instagram and saw a stunning image and ‘liked’ it without reading the text? For me, it’s all the time.
The value of images is so important for story telling and engagement on today’s social media channels.

According to HubSpot, a well recognized inbound marketing platform,
“Photos on Facebook pages received 53% more likes than the average post.
Photo posts attracted 104% more comments than the average post”
facebook-engagement-metrics-hubspot-resized-600
Above graphic courtesy of Hubspot.com

Where can you find images for your social media?

1. Try out a royalty free stock agency
Stock photography/vector sites’ accessibility and affordability have increased dramatically even over the past 10 years thanks to digital cameras and the amount of contributors.
Here are a couple I personally recommend from free to less than $1 per image:

Creative Commons
With 1 billion works and counting you’re bound to find exactly what you need to deliver your message. Always remember to credit the creator of the image.

Dreamstime
98 million royalty stock free images available; there is a free content section and a paid one as well.
Even Narcity Canada is using Dreamstime images for their social media posts!

Shutterstock
200+ million images available, from pay as your go to subscription or try the free image of the week
merry christmas

2. Make your own content: stage a photoshoot
Photograph your neon open sign to advertise your Spring hours or style a ‘Thank You’ card to accompany a personal shout out to your followers for following along.
The camera quality at our finger tips is crazy.
thank-you-card-18531979

3. Leave it to the pros
Lifestyle/branding photography is huge right now. Consider spending a couple hundred dollars on a customized professional session to show off you and your business; in your work space or on location.
Images can include your products, headshots, or environmental shots of you working that will be eye catching and can be used to promote any of your services or make an announcement. Customers love to do business with people they can see so get in front of the lens.
1 satin-and-snow-brand-photography 2Bonus tip:
Only use relevant images to the topic you’re writing or posting about.

Add images to your posts and see the difference in your online reach!

How have images improved your social media experience? (Either as a business or a consumer)
Leave a comment below to join the conversation

 

 

Facebook:
The importance of images on your social media; 3 tips to include photos on your feed for 100% more engagement: https://bit.ly/2FeQnbu

Twitter:
3 easy tips for including images in your #socialmedia will have you questioning why you haven’t started yet: https://bit.ly/2FeQnbu

COM0011_S18_

Hello fellow social media fans! My name is Mel and I’m here to improve my understanding of trends in social media and learn how to engage more personally with my followers and the followers of the brand account that I manage.
I’ve been in the creative field of photography for the past 15 years since graduating from the Algonquin College diploma program and am finding more and more how importantly photography and social media go hand in hand.
When I started photography, it was still film and social media wasn’t even a term, so I’m interested to develop my skills in this ever changing field and delve more into the benefits of trends I’ve been seeing pop up such as the popularity of stories and Facebook live, and how they can be applied to my photography based career.

To me, social media is the practice of online engagement: the producing of, sharing and commenting on content created by users for users via social media platforms. It’s truly fascinating how much content on any subject is available at our finger tips at any given time.
One of my favourite aspects of social media is blogs. I find the majority of blogs that I follow are photography related (occupational hazard) but what draws me into their content the most are use of images (is it appropriate for the blog content? Is it beautiful and eye catching? Is it original?) and the tone of the text in the blog.
When reading personal interest blogs I’m looking for a friendly conversational tone; I want to be included in the conversation and feel like I was there when I read the back story about the images that are sparking emotions as I scroll through.

Here’s one of my favourite blogs by Two Mann Studios, an Alberta based husband and wife photography team: https://twomann.com/blog/2019/02/26/kimmi-dwaynes-wedding-negril-jamaica-spa-retreat-boutique-hotel/

Copyright: Two Mann Studios (https://twomann.com/blog)

How do you feel about their latest post?

Find Your Audience via Instagram

instagram_logo

Saturday, M. (2013, May 2)

As a photographer, likely one of your goals is to gain an audience for your work. The Internet allows you the opportunity to do that on worldwide scale. The challenge is finding the best way to find that audience. For a long time sites like Flickr, Smugmug and 500px were popular with photographers but now they are looking to Instagram.

It’s easy to see why photographer’s are making the move to Instagram. Instagram is rated the world’s 14th most popular site according to Alexa.

Instagram

Alexa (2018, June 24)

Here are some things to consider as to whether or not Instagram is a good option for your photographs.

Pros for using Instagram

  • Only social media application that is specifically designed for photos.
  • Instant feedback on your photo!
  • Great place to get inspired and to inspire.
  • Can target your audience through hashtags.
  • More likely to get your photographs discovered / noticed than on sites such Flickr or 500px.
  • Don’t need a large number of followers to have an impact.
  • Fastest growing social media platform.
  • Doesn’t limit the reach of your photo unlike Facebook which will only let 400 people see your post.
  • Don’t need a smart phone or iPad to post photographs, although it makes it easier.
  • Potential of getting clients depending on how you want to use it.

Cons for using Instagram

  • People can “steal” your photographs.
  • Privacy setting is set at the account level and not per photo.
  • You cannot arrange or group photos together. They display in the order that they are posted.
  • You need to post consistently to gain / maintain followers.

Is Instagram the right platform for your photography?

social-facebook-box-blue-icon Is Instagram right for you? https://bit.ly/2jVojNI

Twitter_icon Find an audience for your photographs via Instagram. https://bit.ly/2jVojNI

References

Saturday, M. (2013, May 2) Instagram Logo Retrieved from: https://dribbble.com/shots/1054954-Instagram-Logo

Alexa (2018, June 24) How popular is Instagram.com Retrieved from: https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/instagram.com

In Search of the Boneyard

I saw some stunning photos of a location called the “boneyard”.

Tree

All I had to go on was that it was located on the coast in South Carolina. It took some Googling but eventually I found the location – Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area which is located on Edisto Island in South Carolina.

Here is what you need to know, if you want to visit this location.

Address:

7510 Botany Bay Rd
Edisto Island, SC 29438

GPS:

32.539498, -80.260708

Google Map

Copyright Google Maps

Notes:

  • There are no signs that will direct you to the planation so using a GPS is helpful because the street signs are small and hard to see in the dark.
  • SC Highway 174 is a single lane winding road that you will be driving in the dark so drive carefully.
  • There are speed bumps on the planation roads which you might not see in the dark.
  • To get to the beach, you need to make a right at the second road where you will see a small sign.

Accommodations:

There are no hotels on the island however there are house rentals available but unless you want to rent for a week, this isn’t a feasible option. Edisto Beach state park is close and has campsites as well as 7 cabins otherwise expect to stay in either Charleston or Beaufort which are both an hour away.

Open:

The planation is open from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset. There is an automated gate so even if you arrive early you will need to wait.

Note: The planation is closed on Tuesday’s for hunting.

Cost:

There is no cost to access the planation but you need to obtain a day use pass which can be found at the kiosk that is located near the main gate. If you get to the gate early you can walk in and obtain the pass while you wait.

Getting to the Beach:

There is a ½ mile causeway that you need to cross before you reach the beach.

Prior to Hurricane Matthew the most interesting trees were located to the left of the beach access path. I haven’t been back since the hurricane so this might have changed.

Tips:

  • Given the damage from the hurricane, you might want to scout the beach prior to trying to shoot a sunrise.
  • Given the amount of time it will take to get from the gate, across the causeway and to the beach you will want to ensure that you have all your gear ready to go.
  • Beware of the tide schedule so that you are not attempting to photograph during high tide as there will be no access to the beach.
  • There are no bathrooms or washrooms available in the planation, the closet are located in the town.
  • This is a natural beach which means that by law you are not allowed to remove shells.

More Information:

https://www2.dnr.sc.gov/ManagedLands/ManagedLand/ManagedLand/57

Sunrise at Botany Bay in South Carolina. from Holly Lumley on Vimeo.

Twitter_icon In search of the boneyard. #DiscoverSC #EdistoIsland https://bit.ly/2JLdjjC

social-facebook-box-blue-iconFinding the boneyard on Edisto Island. https://bit.ly/2JLdjjC

References

Google Maps (n.d.) Retrieved 14 June, 2018 from https://www.google.ca/maps/dir//Botany+Bay+Rd,+Edisto+Island,+SC+29438,+USA/@32.5519299,-80.2434002,2810m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m8!4m7!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x88fc2fad5edef157:0xcd75d8a68a5a25f4!2m2!1d-80.2329335!2d32.5528632

 

Location, Location, Location!

As a photographer, I’m always trying to find interesting locations to go and shoot. Social media can be a great tool for finding locations that you aren’t aware of either in your own backyard or in another country.

Here are some of the ways that I use social media to find those areas.

Twitter

If I’m looking for locations in Ontario, the Ontario Provincial Park twitter accounts for specific parks are good at not only sharing photos but also providing specific locations. In the example below, if I was interested in shooting wildflowers, Algonquin Park has not only given me a sample of what I’ll see but also directed me to the trail to take. (@Algonquin_PP, 2018)

Algoquin Provincial Park

The Provincial Parks are also good at re-tweeting people who tagged them in their posts which provides you with further ideas. Unfortunately, not all the Ontario Provincial Park accounts are as active and as detailed as Algonquin. You can try this approach to other Provinces if you are traveling outside of Ontario.

Another approach to try is searching for hashtags using the park name or location. For instance, searching #lakelouise helps me discover Lake Moraine which is close to Lake Louise. (@FairmontCLL, 2018) As an added bonus I’ve got a link that provides me with other areas of interest around this location.

Chateau Lake Louise

Instagram

I follow a similar approach to Twitter for Instagram in using hashtags to find locations. For instance, if I’m traveling to Utah and I plan on going to Zion National park I would look for hashtags such as; #zion, #zionnps or #zionnationalpark. From within the photos that appear I might find additional hashtags I want to investigate like; #TheSubway. The result a location that I might not have been aware of otherwise to get the photo below.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lumlui/5180769416/in/album-72157625397048286/

Blogs

I was going to Alberta and developed a list of shots that I wanted to try and take. One of these items was wooden grain elevators. A search on Google had me stumble across a travel blog that not only gave me some locations but also helped me find a ghost town in Rowley. (Off the Beaten Path – with Chris & Connie, 2013) The photos on the blog were enough to give me an idea of what I would see and a new destination was added to my trip.

There are just a few of the ways that I use to find different locations to shoot. How do you use social media to find locations to photograph?

social-facebook-box-blue-icon Location, Location, Location! Tips for using social media to discover locations to photograph. https://bit.ly/2xNCznO

Twitter_icon Location, Location, Location! Tips for using social media to discover locations to photograph. https://bit.ly/2xNCznO

References

@Algoquin_PP [Algoquin Provincial Park] (2018, May 19) Some of the best wildflower viewing in the park right now is on Hemlock Bluff Trail. One of our Park Naturalists discovered “blankets of Dutchman’s Breeches” along with plenty of Trout Lilies & Red Trilliums. [Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Algonquin_PP/status/997884799883907072

@FairmountCLL [Chateau Lake Louise] This has got to be one of the best night shots of Moraine Lake we have ever seen 😍 Our sister lake is a must-see in #lakelouise! Pic: @deljayphotography via IG #banffnationalpark [Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/FairmontCLL/status/1003815490349748224

Doering, C and Biggart, C ( 2013, September) Rowley Albert ghost town [Blog Post] Retrieved from https://www.bigdoer.com/11640/exploring-history/rowley-alberta-ghost-town/

COM0015, Blog 4: Out of the Box

From Social Media to Stock Image Storefront

I find it interesting that social media not only helps market products and services and even serve ads, but it can also be the storefront. For example, some photo-sharing social media sites, like ViewBug and 500px, allow photographers to charge royalty fees for their images through a stock-image system.

While Instagram and Flickr may be the best-known photo-sharing social media platforms, I love ViewBug. The community is much more active. Not only does ViewBug have 20 or so free contests going on at any one time (plus contests for premium and pro members), but anybody can set up a photo challenge, asking users to submit images on the most eclectic ideas imaginable. This really boosts creativity and inspiration.

I have Curator status, which means I’m one of the volunteers who greets new members and offers pointers to budding photographers. ViewbBug recently invited me to become a Collaborator, which means they would like my input on new contests and promotions. Because of my status and the 138 awards I’ve won so far, I’m confident that I should be able to sell a few of my images.

viewbug-page

While I have to do more research before turning on any revenue-generating feature, 500px’s Marketplace seems to be the most complicated. Not only does it require model-release forms (which is common practice for taking, let alone selling, images of people), but it also requires property-release forms. As an architectural photographer, I need to see if I can legally sell any of my existing images. I also need to determine whether I need to ask property owners to sign a form for any photographers I want to take.

I have not been able to find a similar feature on Instagram. I’m not surprised by this as:

“Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever.”

Even if your mobile phone boasts 20 megapixels, in most (but not all) cases, the quality of those pixels and of the jpgs they create are not of high enough quality to allow for professional purposes and printing. Instagram does not allow people to upload photos directly from a desktop or laptop computer, so it becomes more difficult to post pictures taken from a DSLR (although Hootsuite sends push notifications to my cell phone to post images and captions I’ve uploaded from my computer).

I find it disappointing that Flickr does not offer a marketplace. My hopes were raised when I saw that it allows photographers to choose which licence they want for their images. These range from public domain or government work to all rights reserved, with variations of attribution in between. While public domain and government work are free for anybody to use, all rights reserved protects photographers’ copyrighted material from being reproduced without written permission, which is the licence professional photographers would choose.

Whether the social media account is for FlashDesignsStudio.com, my husband or me, we already have accounts set up on each of these sites, have joined conversations with groups and have gathered a following. For 2017, we will take our photography hobby to the next step toward a retirement business by starting to sell our images. Wish us luck!

COM0011 – Blog 2 – Optimizing your food blog for Pinteresters

Let me begin by saying that I am not a food blogger, so this is not a post about how to make a lovely culinary blog like my own. I am just a person who cooks and bakes often, and primarily uses links from social streams like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter to find recipes. Thanks to these, I can find a massive selection of food blogs with recipe posts, far outdoing the selection that I can find by using Google alone (the same few sites like AllRecipes.com and Cooks.com are better indexed and always at the top of the results, unfortunately.)

Of these, I feel that Pinterest is the best choice for social recipe perusal, because the social aggregator is,

1. picture-based , so you can scroll through your results by photo, which yield higher conversion than text when it comes to food;

2. Pinterest posts link directly to the post or page of origin; and

3. Is so easy to share to by photo linking that it is a top choice of food bloggers to share their content, and therefore Pinterest’s selection of any given search result is abundant.

This being said, I feel that there could be several key improvements to the blog posts themselves in light of the fact that much of their traffic will be coming from Pinterest and other social media.

Since I am usually standing in my kitchen or at the grocery store when I’m using Pinterest to comb for recipes, I will be accessing it from a mobile device. Thankfully, Pinterest is aware of this and its mobile app has an awesome user interface, so no complaints there. However, once I click on a suitable-looking photo to link to the blog it was posted from, this is where all hell breaks loose. Most food bloggers use lots of high-quality photography to display their culinary prowess, but many take it to the next level and unfortunately it slows the load time on a mobile device to the point of abandonment. I have often been on a post, trying to scroll through forty slow-loading images so that I can simply see the recipe list to make sure I have all the ingredients before I start. Sometimes I stand there swearing and scrolling, but often I just close Pinterest’s browser and go back to its search results so that I can find a link to a different site altogether. If the recipe was posted at the top of the post under the title, I would have only had to scroll that far to find it and it would have increased my likelihood of using it.

Speaking of photography, the photos themselves should be optimized for web, and quite often, they are too big and too numerous. I personally don’t need to view ten similar photos of the same pie taken in impressively high quality, nor a separate photo of EVERY STEP of the cooking process, either. I feel that if the blogger can’t illustrate the whole recipe in 5 photos or less including the feature image, then they need to review their posting strategy.

The body copy itself is often too long. While I understand that the blogger is trying to create a community in which their voice and their style can blend with their skills to appeal to their niche audience, I am arriving to their blog from outside their niche and I simply do not care about their voice. I just want to see their spinach dip recipe because the photo on Pinterest looked tasty. I will not read the 500 words of copy introducing the week they’ve been having at the time of posting, nor how much their “hubby” loves this recipe. A short paragraph regarding the blogger’s success with the recipe and detailing any alterations made to it wouldn’t be amiss, but anything more will be scrolled past.

The comments need to be moderated to be useful. Many recipes on larger sites are only as good as their comment thread. On a site like AllRecipes, some recipes are utterly useless if you don’t read the user feedback, as often times the recipe itself is bunk, or an important substitution had to be made by a commenter to render it edible. On smaller blog sites, I have come to notice that half the comments are from the blogger’s community who are trying to show support by commenting things like “This sure looks good, can’t wait to try it”. This is no use to a casual user whatsoever. The commenter’s intention to possibly use the recipe someday is of no value to me. The blogger should reduce or remove comments of this nature, or use a vote-up type system where they can upvote more relevant comments to the top of the thread, such as “I tried this yesterday, and I had to increase the salt, but it worked perfectly”.

In conclusion, I love Pinterest and I love being able to easily connect with food bloggers and their recipes. But with such vast amounts of content available online, any food blogger trying to reach an audience through social media should optimize their posts to make them a bit more user-friendly if they want theirs to stand out from the rest.

Photography of food

COM0014: Bog post # 3: Target Audiences

Reaching out to your target audience is crucial if you want your product or service to become a success. Especially for a new photographer, like me. Photography is not only my passion, but for my clients as well. So for that reason, I need to really understand my target audience and here are some ways on how to do that.

Determine and understand your target audience. 

Begin research before you dive into your communications plan, or in this case, a social media strategy. Doing so will help you develop appropriate messaging which will have a huge impact on your sales. Ask yourself questions like these to determine the demographics of your target audience: Who are they?  How big is their immediate family unit? What is their education level? Are they married, single or divorced? The answers will help you to define the next part of the equation, which is, the psychographic information of your audience.  What is their lifestyle like? How do they spend quality family time? Are they a traditional family? What are some of their opinions, values, interests and hobbies?

Let’s take my photography business as an example. I don’t point and shoot just anybody; my specialty is photographing children and babies. Keeping the end result in mind (clients with babies and children), I’ve determined that the demographic and psychographic information of my target audience would include the following: Women, pregnant women, parents, first time parents, 20’s-40’s, young families, married couples, pregnant or with babies and/or young children, live in Ottawa, graduated with a university degree or college diploma, middle class, trendy yet traditional, family oriented, happy and proud parents, enjoys sharing photos of their children online and on social media sites.

Tools and strategies to reach a target audience.

These days, most of the general public spends some time online, surfing and browsing several websites. In order to be a success, you should always brand yourself or your business by using a variety of social media platforms. Here are a few ways to keep your audience engaged.

Create a Facebook page that anyone can access
Everybody has heard of Facebook. Facebook group pages also include analytics that can help you determine how effective and engaging your activity is. In terms of photography, here are a few reasons why photographers have used Facebook with their clientele:

  • Announce specials
  • Post photos of recent shoots
  • Link to new posts on your blog
  • Hold contests
  • Show what goes on behind the scenes
  • Post ways how clients can look good in photos
  • Share content that inspires you

Here’s a link to Jana Williams Facebook page, a photographer that inspires me and really knows how to use social media.

Create a Twitter account
Twitter is not only a great listening tool, it could also be used as a way to soft-sell your product. But don’t be that heavy, tacky, sales rep either. In 140 characters or less, you can leave soft and subtle messages, tips, links to your work and images from your photography portfolio. Here you will find tips on how to promote your business using Twitter: https://business.twitter.com/

Pinterest
Pinterest allows you to pin and share images. You can use Pinterest to help your business get more profile and exposure. Basically, the more your images are pinned, the better chance you’ll have at getting people to visit your website and buy your product. You can also create promotions, hold a photo contest and sell your products and services, which all help to strengthen your brand. This is a great tool for photographers to use.

Understanding your target audience and using some social media tools are ways that would definitely benefit your business and help you to become more successful.

Hope you enjoyed my blog post.

 

DSC_0655

DSC_0536

 

Reference:
http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/2593 4.asp
http://jana-williams.com/
https://www.facebook.com/janawilliamsphotography
https://business.twitter.com/
https://www.pinterest.com/

COM0011 – (521): Blog 6: What types of content do you see as being most effective for company, personal brand, or organization

As of May 2011, I own a small business, and what offer to my clients who are currently family and friends are media related services such as: Photography (mostly), basic web design, basic graphic design, Film production, script-writing, and creative advertisement. Now when we talk about the types of content that I would believe be the most effective for my company, personal brand, and/or organization, its hard to say.

I believe the type of content that would be most effective or someone what the ones that could be relevant to the top 5 contents listed by Caroline Capern who is the author of The 5 Essential Types of Social Media Content for CW Magazine.

Out of Caroline’s list of social media content(s) the ones that would suit my business or personal brand would be:

– Awareness content
– Engagement content
– Evaluation content
– Decision content
– Purchase content

All these contents are important and effective way to draw people to me too sell my services to them.  All of the above content are connected, if you don’t have one or the other then your social media is offering a complete content to the audience.

I hope that once all these contents are applied to my business that I’ll be able to get more customers, should I decide to make this a full- time career.

 

– Saber Nawaz

Source: http://www.iabc.com/cwb/archive/2013/0313/Capern.htm