You’re starting up a new photography business. You know you need to have something online.
Yet you really don’t have the money to spend on marketing. So you do what a lot of photographers do and you head on to Facebook and design a Page. You don’t need anything else, right?
Yes, designing a Facebook Page seems to be a growing trend. In 2011, US business owners spent more than $3 million designing Facebook brand pages. But are they getting their money’s worth?
According to a new study conducted by Incyte Group and Get Satisfaction, nearly 90 percent of respondents stated a company’s website – not their social network – is the preferred place to research products and services that will ultimately lead to a purchase decision. The study showed there is an extensive gap between the way consumers want to engage with companies via social media and the way companies are choosing to use those tools.
Consumers aren’t looking for a company with vast amounts of Likes, Pins or Tweets. They want relationships they can count on, personal referrals, and engagement from the company itself.
When customers are ready to buy, they want information that will help them lead to an informed decision. And that means they head right to a website.
And if you think about it for a moment and compare it to your own spending habits, you can see why that is true.
How Do You Search?
If I’m out on my social sites, I’m usually there for personal reasons. I have extra time and am looking for ways to communicate with friends and potential clients. Or I’m there sharing things to build up my own reputation. I’m usually not there to do research on whatever I may have plans of buying in the future.
When I’m doing research on what I need to buy – a new car, a new accountant, or a photographer for my daughter’s senior portraits – I don’t do my research on Facebook. Instead I start in Google and do a search to find potential companies that meet my needs.
Once I have companies in mind, I may start researching for recommendations. But even within Google itself, I can see who is commenting on my search terms right there in the rankings.
I simply don’t think about searching in Facebook for my keywords. Which means my first goal is to find a website.
Who Is Your Customer?
Let’s look at it from a different angle. Think about who your client is. Are they an 18 year old high school senior? Or are they a 50 year old mom? An 18 year old will be on Facebook and will understand how to navigate everything you do. The 50 year old? Maybe. Yes, many 50 year olds use Facebook. But many don’t. And if you go up in age ranks, the odds are they use it sparingly at best.
Sure, they know how to navigate online and search through a website. But Facebook may leave them a bit overwhelmed. They are simply on it to check in on their kids, or keep up with what the grandkids are doing.
The key with getting new clients is to give them what they want, when they want it, where they want it.
You should never expect your clients to think like you and do everything the way you do. [Within reason. If you are trying to attract a certain type of client, it is okay to reach out to them in your preferred methods. For instance when we first started growing our wedding business, we specifically targeted young professionals in the dot com industries. If they didn’t have Internet access and couldn’t visit our web portfolio, we knew they weren’t our client.]
Attracting a client online means you give them many opportunities to see what you do through a variety of online sites. Some prefer your website. Some prefer Facebook. The point is to let them find you and research you anyway they choose. You’re where they are looking. You don’t expect them to conform to your rules.
Who Owns Your Content?
And finally, the problem with Facebook is its free. Yes, I know that is why the majority of brand new photographers use it. Yet any time you have something for free, you are at the mercy of the owner of that company.
When Facebook decided to get rid of the old Page concept and turn it into the Timeline concept, we as business owners had no say in the decision. It just happened. And we have to deal with the consequences.
When that happened, we lost the ability to control the landing page people would hit when they went to our Page, and how to market our Page to increase our Likes. And it hit our business. We watched our numbers fall off drastically overnight.
Yes, you can recover. But it takes time. You have to rebuild and rethink things. And you have to work within the constraints they give you, sometimes with no notice at all.
That will never happen with your website. You own it. You control it. Plus its easier to build in your content and then share it on sites like Facebook. That way your content will always exist exactly how you prefer it to be seen.