Social media isn’t just great for keeping in touch with loved ones and sharing memes from The Office. It can also help you connect with clients and build your business!
Katelyn Workman of Katelyn Workman Photography knows the power of creating and fostering connection on social media firsthand. Katelyn is a Virginia-based wedding photographer whose business is thriving thanks to her community marketing strategies, relatable social media presence, and relationship-building efforts.
Serving clients well and connecting with clients, potential clients, and other wedding vendors on social media are at the top of Katelyn’s priorities list. In fact, while she’s grateful for the referrals she gets from industry vendors and past brides, the majority of her bookings actually come through social media—a rare feat for photographers!
In today’s episode, Katelyn will explain how we can create connection and increase sales via social media and community marketing and—ultimately—serve our clients better than ever.
What is “community marketing,” & how can it grow your business?
Katelyn defines community marketing as “building community and building a business through authentic connections, both in person and online.” Her social media strategy (and really her strategy as a photographer and business owner) revolves around placing her clients first and helping them feel comfortable—whether they’re connecting with her online or posing in front of the camera.
When Katelyn shares something on social media from her “real” life—for example, a photo of her kids or a video of her walking with her husband—her followers can see the person behind the camera and get to know her on a more personal level.
Of course, Katelyn wants to grow her business, but she’s also hoping to build community with her Instagram followers, industry vendors, and potential clients—simply by being herself. That authenticity fosters trust between Katelyn and her prospects, which is vital to her business growth because, as she reminds us, “People buy from people whom they trust.”
How can creative entrepreneurs create connection & increase sales via social media in a non-spammy way?
Creative entrepreneurs may not be sure where to start with community marketing if they’ve never tried it. You might think, “Wait, am I just supposed to start DM-ing people with a business pitch?” But, that’s not what Katelyn means at all! She says, “If all I did was get on my Instagram and say, ‘Hi, I’m a wedding photographer, book me,’ people would stop following me!”
So, how can you build your business while also creating genuine community? Katelyn gives us a few tips:
1. Show up as your authentic self.
Katelyn understands how intimidating it can be to post something personal on your business account for the first time. When she made her first Instagram Story, Katelyn got all dressed up and took about 20 takes. Now, there’s less makeup, fewer takes, and more kids involved in her videos!
Whether this is your first time attempting a Story, or you’ve been posting on your business account for a while, Katelyn offers this advice, “Show up authentically as who you are, not who you think people want you to be.” Your clients and prospects will enjoy getting to know you, and they don’t expect you to be perfect!
2. Look for ways to form genuine friendships.
While you should use social media strategically to increase sales and grow your business, Katelyn reminds us that this shouldn’t be your only goal. If you’re also making friends and engaging with people online, you’ll form valuable and professional connections. Plus, you’ll have more fun!
For example, Katelyn followed a wedding planner on Instagram whom she genuinely admired and enjoyed following her journey. That planner just referred a dream client who booked with Katelyn, and they’ve never even met in person! It wasn’t Katelyn’s intention to get referrals from this planner or be sales-y; she just wanted to be friends with her. But, that genuine friendship led to something great for her business.
Katelyn also suggested that wedding photographers follow bridesmaids on Instagram (with their permission). Since you’re already getting to know them in person on their friend’s wedding day, staying connected with them will keep you top of mind once they’re engaged and looking for their own wedding photographer.
3. Set boundaries with what you share.
While it’s important to show up as your authentic self on social media, you shouldn’t reveal every single thing about your personal life. For example, Katelyn loves to talk about family, fostering, travels, and even coffee. But, she would never tell her followers where her daughter attends dance class as a matter of safety.
Setting boundaries with what you share protects your privacy and that of your loved ones. And, not everyone loves having their face online for all to see, so make sure you get permission from your family and friends before posting any photos or videos of them.
4. Consider how others may connect with your story.
Whether you have sweet kids, an adorable puppy, or a family heirloom collection, Katelyn encourages creative entrepreneurs to share what’s important to or unique about them. It’s easy to compare yourself to others or think you don’t have any interesting (non-business) things to post about your life. But, there is something in your life that someone will connect with!
When Katelyn started her photography blog, she initially just shared pictures. But, she soon began sharing her story about fostering their daughter and the passion that she and her husband felt as foster parents. Followers and bookings were never Katelyn’s goal with blogging about fostering her now-adopted daughter, but sharing that piece of her life created a connection with prospects and eventual clients, especially those who also had a heart for fostering.
5. Don’t just strive for a “pretty” Instagram.
While your photos should have a cohesive and consistent style if you’re a photographer, Katelyn reminds us that an aesthetically pleasing grid shouldn’t be the goal. She tells the story of when she first started her business and had gorgeous wedding photos to share on her Instagram. But, her dad never looked at her pictures. When she asked why, he told her this was because he didn’t know any of the people. “There was a disconnect,” Katelyn explains.
So, along with pretty wedding photos, Katelyn’s dad now gets to see pictures of his daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids on her Instagram—with no editing or filter necessary! While Katelyn’s dad certainly wants to see this kind of content, the fact of the matter is that others do, too, because these kinds of personal posts and images create connection with Katelyn.
Katelyn estimates that only about two percent of her followers are engaged people looking for a wedding photographer. The other 98 percent include people like her dad, a childhood friend’s mom, past bridesmaids she’s worked with who aren’t engaged, and others who she’ll connect with more by sharing posts about her personal life and non-work-related interests.
“That friend’s mom isn’t following me because of my pretty pictures,” Katelyn says. “She’s following me because she connects with me personally.” And, when that mom knows someone who’s engaged, she may be more likely to think of Katelyn (someone she knows on a personal level) and recommend her to the bride or groom.
How can photographers & other creatives show up consistently on social media?
To create connection and increase sales via social media, you’ll want to have a consistent presence online. But, does that mean you have to post something every day? Do you have to respond to social media comments over the weekend? Or, can you take Sundays off to recharge?
In this episode, Katelyn provides a couple of ideas for regularly engaging clients and followers while maintaining boundaries:
1. Aim for a certain number of posts per week.
Whether you have lots of potential clients as followers or they have a friend of a friend who might benefit from your business, a consistent social media presence will keep you top of mind.
Katelyn tries to post on weekdays, or at least five times a week. Using a template for general social media guidelines and posting ideas has helped her stay on track. And, even though life as a mom of two can get pretty chaotic, she won’t go days without posting. Katelyn’s business—and her relationships with clients—depends on her sharing wedding previews, engagement photos, and other posts in a timely manner.
2. Don’t feel like you have to post every single day.
While it’s essential to be consistent online, Katelyn acknowledges that it can be exhausting to feel like you have to post something every day and always be “on.” So, she’s set a few boundaries that allow her to prioritize her family and recharge so she isn’t too burned out to serve her clients well. These include:
- Having a family movie night every Friday
- Regularly going on dates with her husband
- Only posting on Saturdays if she wants to
- Staying off social media on Sundays
Fortunately, social media (and the internet in general) has changed over the years to preference quality content over quantity. In other words, you may not need to post every single day, as long as you’re sharing helpful and valuable content on a regular basis.
3. Connect with others through a weekly personal post.
People want to get to know you, not just your business. “If you’re looking at your [Instagram] grid and don’t see a picture of yourself, that’s a problem,” Katelyn says. But, the good news is, you can easily fix this problem! Katelyn recommends sharing a non-work-related post at least once a week to help your followers and clients connect with you on a more personal level. This could be a video of you walking your dog, a photo of your kiddo’s art project, or a selfie where you introduce yourself.
Not sure what to post? Katelyn suggests a quick brain dump where you write down all the fun facts and interesting things about your life that you can think of. If you have a cute cat, a handsome husband, or a delicious cookie recipe, those can all go on the list! Then, pick a day to share something personal (yet in a professional way) on your Story every week. For example, you could take a video of a Wednesday walk with your husband, or post a photo of your cat to help everyone get through Monday. Sticking to a regular day for personal posts will give your peers and clients something to look forward to as they get to know you (and your business) better.
“Social media can be so discouraging, and I just want to show up and encourage people,” Katelyn says. And, friend, I know you can do the same! No matter what type of creative entrepreneur you may be, your life is interesting and unique—and your followers want to see that in addition to your work. By showing up as yourself, you’ll be able to connect with prospects as a “real” person, form and maintain friendships, and even help your business flourish.
Want to hear more from Katelyn?
If you’d like to see Katelyn’s wedding photography or to get more tips on creating genuine connections, you can find her on Instagram (@katelynworkmanphotography), on Facebook, and at katelynworkmanphotography.com.
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
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