(The text is not a verbatim transcript but slightly edited for the written word. No content was harmed in the editing.)
Today I’m in beautiful, sunny Pinner with Julian Knopf of Gander Photography. Actually, Julian runs not just Gander Photography but another photography business as well. He’ll explain it all to us. And he is also a great social media user.
Julian, you told me that you have two different photography businesses. What is the most effective, most impactful social media platform for you?
OK, so just to explain that a little bit. I have Gander Photography, which is a portrait, events and corporate photography business. This covers weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, family portraiture and corporate stuff.
And to the side of that, I have something called The Way You Are, which is also branded under Gander Photography, but it is more female portraiture and boudoir and stuff like that. They have different existences on social media.
Both of them have Facebook groups and channels and both of them have Instagram accounts. I kind of co-create into those.
I split them because, obviously, you don’t want one market having to be forced to see the other. And, what has also become interesting over time is that Instagram is more appropriate for the boudoir stuff because that’s where that market and those people are. And Facebook is far more useful for, let’s say, mainstream photography. Bar Mitzvah parents and that age group are on Facebook. You know, 40- to 50-year olds or corporates are looking around there.
The more successful channel for the boudoir stuff has been the Instagram because that’s where the younger, edgier people are.
I see you not infrequently also on LinkedIn. How does that work for you?
Well, interestingly, LinkedIn is something where I spent more time for the last six months or so because I came to notice that I had more contacts on LinkedIn than I had on any other social channels.
I thought I’m just not using this properly, and it’s there for me to use. I have a corporate background you know. I used to work in the corporate world before I moved into the photography. And there’s a bit of a mindset that LinkedIn is just for jobs: here’s my CV, come find me for a job.
I think over the last, let’s say, two or three years that kind of use has changed. Now we’re all there socializing, I won’t say in a Facebook way but in a more kind of interesting way. So the last three, four, five months I’ve used LinkedIn more. I’ve posted interesting conundrums and questions and things of that nature on LinkedIn. I try and keep it business focused rather than: ‘Hey, this is what I did in the weekend’ or whatever.
I obviously try and link back to people whom I know and give them some exposure. So those three channels give me everything I need to do what I do. I also have some stuff on Twitter but I don’t have time to do everything.
Now, you’re a photographer, so you have all the gear, the equipment, and your experience. DSLRs nowadays are very good video cameras. I cannot even remember having seen a video of yours. You don’t seem to be using video at all, or very, very little. Why not?
One reason is time. Quite frankly, the amount of time that it takes to put a video together with me being a bit of a perfectionist, it takes a lot of time. I do video for the boudoir stuff, so when clients come to receive their pictures as a reveal, they come and see some printed photos on the wall, and I film all of those reveals, and then we do interviews. They are available on the website; they are available all on my YouTube channel, as well. And I post those a little bit. I don’t use video like this for Gander, for my mainstream stuff. For that, I use slideshows and things of that nature to really expose the photography rather than myself. Will I do more of it? Yes. Have I got some ideas? A few. It’s just a matter of sitting down and doing it, editing it and getting it out there. They keep telling us that video is the way forward.
Well, you can also animate images and that also is a video.
Yes, all of that. What I do notice is that when I post videos they get a lot of exposure. I don’t know whether the algorithms go: it’s a video rather than a photo, so we’ll give that more exposure, or whatever. But I do know the videos that I’ve put out have been very successful. So I’m going to look to do some more of those next year.
Just as an aside, very interestingly, I’ve talked to other photographers as well, not as yet in this context of the #3Questions, and all of them said they don’t mind editing photos but they find video editing just too boring and too complicated. For me, it’s the opposite. I quite like video editing.
I think it’s like being any other kind of artist, you know. I always say that photography, videography, is like artistry, and if you are an artist you might prefer oils rather than pastels or watercolours. I actually don’t mind editing video. I can find it quite laborious in some cases but I don’t mind doing it. The stuff that I have done is quite good. I have all the equipment. I have done videos for clients. I just don’t do a lot of it. It’s not where I want to put my market and my mainstream effort.
(At this point, Ossey joined the interview.)
Now, next question. What are your 3 top tips for other businesses and social media users to use social media effectively for their business or project?
For any platform, be active. You have to post, post, post. For Instagram, I post at least 3 times a day. I tend to have a set of pictures that correlate so that when you look at it on the Instagram grid, you’ll have three pictures at a time that all kind of relate to each other.
For Facebook, you obviously have to do the same thing.
Comment back when people comment. Like your likes, do all of those things.
I think we all fall into this trap of: I’ll post something, the world will see it, and they’ll beat my door down, and everything will be wonderful. And actually, that’s not true. It’s not happening.
You have to think about it in a different way: how many times do you see a Coca-Cola advert on television or any anywhere? And don’t be afraid of posting the same or similar things on different channels. So that you have a campaign. I think that’s important. So use those things, be active, talk to your followers.
Instagram is very hashtag-driven. We have not mentioned hashtags. If you want to explain what a hashtag is…
It’s the hash symbol, # (pound sign, in American usage). Use it with one or two words slung together as one word, for instance, Gander Photography becomes #ganderphotography. People can then search with these hashtags. It has become very, very popular recently on LinkedIn, certainly since Microsoft took over LinkedIn.
The thing is that people find me on Instagram more through hashtags then they might through my posts because people follow a hashtag. They follow a theme, and in the last couple of months when I’ve been a bit more hashtag savvy, my user growth, my search and the number of people following me have climbed as well.
There is one other, very important aspect of hashtags. YouTube is a search engine. All the other social media platforms, Facebook and LinkedIn, for instance, or Instagram, are not search engines. So if you want to find something and you go for a hashtag, you’ll find the stuff around this hashtag. It makes search much easier on these platforms. If you want to be found use hashtags in your own posts.
And you’ll find things on related hashtags as well because the clever people who use Instagram use lots of hashtags. I use 30 hashtags at once. Instagram will let you have up to 30 hashtags, and I’m in the 20, 25 to 30 category for each post. I have my own hashtag as well. So we can then hopefully try and see whether we can get a bit of a following and a tribe in that respect. Slowly but surely people might start adopting it, find the hashtags that are relevant to you and to the things that you follow. Re-use those, so that people who are hopefully interested in the things that you’re looking at see your posts. And post frequently.
I mix it up, sometimes I do it in the morning, sometimes I do it in the afternoon. There’s a whole host of stuff published. You can read about the best time of day or the best day of the week. Just keep on doing it. And try and keep it consistent is the key. I take a day off every now and again, I’m not religious about posting. But I don’t go to much longer than maybe 2 or 3 days before I think I have to get something else out there.
Those things are key. I think also with Instagram and with Facebook, it’s not just the picture. It is also the description underneath it. It’s the words that people will be looking at. And, you know, you can emote a lot through those things. You can make people want to do what you do.
It’s not just: Hey, I’m a photographer, my pictures should speak for themselves.
However, if you explain it a bit, such as: here is so and so, they’ve come for a picture, or: I had a wonderful Bar Mitzvah over here; that gives you the opportunity then to name some of the things that you were with. For example, if I’m at a Bar Mitzvah, I will say I was with this particular DJ at that particular venue with these other kinds of people. So that they can see it; they will like it, and their friends will see it. It’s all about that reach. With their photos on Instagram I’ll say who the makeup artist was, maybe if you’ve got a special brand of clothes, then you get the people looking at your work. That’s important.
So, the final bonus question is: what’s the best way, which is the best platform to contact you online?
Like I say, Facebook and Instagram are where I’m prevalent at. You can search for “Gander Photography” and “The Way You Are,” both on Facebook. And they have a page and a group. On Instagram, it’s “ganderphoto” and “thewayurphoto”. (See below.) And if you want to come and follow me and find out what I’m up to and keep me excited in that space, you are more than welcome to come and find me and join the tribe. And hopefully, you’ll like what you see.
Wonderful, Julian thank you very much.
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