Not everyone is a social media butterfly but in today’s world, social media platforms are one of the most effective forms of marketing to your clients. It engages your clients in conversation that develops your ongoing relationship through trust. Trust in you as a photographer and in your brand.
But what if you’re not getting the engagement and conversations you would like? Enter the nifty Hashtag!
What can the hashtag do for you?
By adding hashtags, your post will be found and read by many more potential clients.
Hashtags make your brand become part of a larger conversation on social networks.
Hashtags allow you to reach other potential customers that might be searching for that hashtag on a given network. Eg #Senior2016 #NewbornPhotography #SeattleFamilyPhotographer
Hashtags make your content relevant to issues in real time. Find what is trending at www.google.com/trends and add trending hashtags to your posts - but only if they are relevant or if you can angle it so it is relevant.
I’ll have a piece of that pie I hear you say! Yes me too :)
So what should a photographer hashtag?
Use hashtags that identify YOU. Eg: #yourbusinessphotography. Your brand hashtag can lead your clients straight to your hub of awesomeness. If someone is looking for content related to you, it is easier for them to simply 'hashtag' search your business name and viola! A full history of your business at their finger tips — they can see samples of your work, if anyone else has used your services and even former client comments on their sessions. Instant social proof of your awesomeness!!
Create a hashtag series. Create a brand within your brand. Using the same word at the beginning of a hashtag can identify your business. Eg. Create a hashtag series around the word 'capturing' #CapturingSeniors2016 or #CapturingMaternity. Then ask clients to share the photos using #CapturedBy(insertyourbusinessname).
You can literally hashtag anything around you during a shoot. Shooting at a great location? hashtag it! #JohnsonNationalPark #PalmBeach. Shooting a particular type of session? hashtag it! #FamilyPhoto #MaternityPhotography. Why? Since tons of users are probably looking for the same events or locations, it will increase the chances of your content being seen. In turn increasing clients contacting you to book a photography session.
Hashtag your personal life. If your business and personal life blend on your Instagram feed, using hashtags that are relevant to YOUR life, but have nothing to do with your photography, is a great way to share your life with your clients. Eg: #JohnsonKids #JohnsonFamilyVacation. Sharing this part of your life forms such a strong connection with you as their photographer that sets you apart from your competition. They already feel like they know you, your family and what you are about.
Rules for making great Hashtags
- Never use spaces. None, whatsoever. If you need to separate words, use capital letters instead of spaces. Adding capitalization does not change the search results for any hashtag.
- Never use punctuation in hashtags, they just don't work. Full stops, exclamation marks, semicolons, asterisks or ampersands. All of them are off limits inside of hashtags.
- Avoid extremely long hashtags, unless they are trending on Twitter or Facebook. When hashtags are too long, your audience will tend to skim over the entire post — your post should be quick and catchy enough to capture their attention. Plus, who can seriously read #photoshootalldaylikeaboss while scrolling through a feed? Keep it simple #PhotoBoss
Never post an all hashtag post. Give your content some depth. Viewers need to know why you're using the hashtags that you've used by reading the comment around it. They need context.
- Numbers make great hashtags. Especially when you're posting seasonally. Eg #ClassOf2016 #Senior2015
Keep hashtags short and sweet and relevant to the post that you're creating. Sites like Facebook and Tumblr allow you to use an unlimited number of hashtags in a single post. However users turn to social media for the content, not paragraphs full of words and symbols — they will avoid your content if you have a ton of hashtags clumped together within your post.
How many hashtags in one post?
Instagram will only allow you to hashtag 30 words on any one photo — even if you hashtag in separate comments. Use one to three hashtags in your main caption. Hide any relatable hashtags in a separate comment on Facebook or Instagram — once someone else comments, your hashtag hoard will no longer be visible to users scrolling through. This will prevent your promo message from getting lost in the hashtag haberdashery like this:
"Express your love this Father’s Day with a mini Daddy and Me session! Book your #appointment today and receive a Father’s day template bonus"
Then add hashtags into the comments "#minisession #photography #photoshoot #FathersDay #DaddyandMe # template #howtophoto #love #dads #photoshoot #booknow #PhotooftheDay #June"
Twitter will only give you 140 characters which means you need to be short and sweet with your hashtags. It’s also advisable to not use up the full 140 characters to give re-tweeters a chance to add their comment to the tweet.
"On the #blog today is Kayley’s #seniorphotography. She is rocking the #classof2016 at #jeffersonhighschool"
You’ll get the most out of hashtagging on your Instagram and Twitter feeds because they use an algorithm that helps people find your content based on your hashtags. While sites like Facebook and Tumblr allow you to use hashtags, it’s harder for users to find your content on them. If you want to ensure your content is being seen, try posting on weekdays between 11 AM and 3 PM when users are more actively trolling for stuff to do. While you can post pictures over the weekend, some users don’t usually interact with the content posted, so maybe save these days to post about updates on your personal life.