» Boost Your Instagram Engagement with These FAQs

Photo by Vanessa Joy Photography

Instagram can be overwhelming for seasoned professionals and starters alike. Between finding and creating high-quality content, engaging with your audience and growing your followers, it can be easy to rack up questions on how to best run your business Instagram. With the help of social media whiz Vanessa Joy, Owner and Photographer of Vanessa Joy Photography, we’ve answered some of the most pressing questions we’ve heard about Instagram.

Sourcing strong photos is difficult, especially since I am not a wedding photographer. Do you have any advice on sourcing content?

Sure, wedding photographers may have their pick of thousands of photos, but as a wedding photographer herself, Vanessa wants you to remember one thing: photographers are taking photos of YOUR work! They capture the flower arrangements, the cake, the dress, the food, the venue— all the details. Without the work of other vendors, photographers would have nothing to capture except for the happy couple.

This is when networking comes in handy. Each time you do a wedding or event, make sure to find out who the photographer is. Then, reach out to see if he or she might have taken photos of your work, and if they can provide them to you to upload to your social channels (with credit, of course!). Additionally, many new photographers are dying to collaborate with established professionals on staged photo shoots to help grow their portfolio. As a bonus, these partnerships are usually free of charge! Helping out a fellow professional who is new to the industry and receiving professionally shot photos? It’s a win-win.

When it comes to taking your own photos, know that you don’t need to be a professional photographer or even have professional equipment (most phone cameras from the last two years take excellent quality photos!) to take great photos. If you feel like you are short on content, we suggest taking a photo of everything you create or every event you do. If you are a cake baker or florist, set up a quick “photo station” that you can always use with a neutral background or surface that has good lighting. Close-up detail shots are easy and quick, too. If you are an officiant or DJ, get photos of the venue, set-up, or of you in action.

What are Instagram stories and why should I use them?

Instagram stories are a great way to still be active and “post” without uploading something to your permanent feed, making them incredibly useful when you are short on strong content. Additionally, Instagram stories only stay up for 24 hours and are best utilized to show behind-the-scenes clips of what you’re up to… content that millennials love to see. The other benefit of stories? When you post one, you are more likely to go to the top of couples’ feeds. In the case of Instagram, this is as good as it gets. Remember: the more eyes on you, the better.

When it’s off-season, I don’t have a lot to post since I am not as busy. Other than uploading ‘throwback’ pictures, what else can I post?

The best thing about social media? Your followers don’t always know when a photo was taken. Instead of posting pictures right after each event you do, save a handful of photos to share throughout engagement season. When you do this, your photos will look like they were just taken, even if they might have been from four months ago. You’ll be active on social media and posting fresh content— which is always the best thing you can do. And your followers will never know your little secret!

The algorithm for boosting posts keeps changing and it always throws a wrench into my digital strategy. It’s incredibly frustrating to keep redoing my marketing strategy, so what can I do?

Instagram’s latest algorithm changes definitely shook up a lot of strategies, and figuring out a new plan to make it work for you can be quite tricky. But, Vanessa notes that with marketing, you are always going to be re-strategizing. In the marketing world, things just change. Rapidly. So while it may be stressful realizing that what worked last week is now outdated, it is just part of advertising on social media.

That being said, keep in mind that when these frustrating social media algorithm changes are announced, the platforms are making those changes to benefit their business. The goal of the algorithms isn’t to boost your posts, but to keep viewers on their platform longer. Instagram is a business, too, after all. To ensure Instagram will favor boosting your posts, make sure your posts are highly engaging. Engagement inherently keeps viewers on the app longer, and if you have a post filled with engagement, Instagram tends to favor an engaging upload over a dead post.

Should I utilize the poll feature within my Instagram stories?

YES! Remember when we talked about the importance of engagement two sentences ago? Polls boost engagement tremendously. Not only do viewers enjoy participating in polls, but the interactive nature of these stories means that your media has a higher chance of getting in front of more couples.

Can I share my Instagram uploads to Facebook?

While it might seem like a timesaving trick, try sharing different posts on each platform to impress potential clients. Each platform uses a different and unique algorithm. So, if you have a post that is crafted for Instagram’s algorithm, that post might not perform as strongly on Facebook. As a side note, tags and hashtags don’t carry over from platform to platform— you have to re-enter the tags and hashtags in order for them to be clickable, which defeats the purpose of one and done.  

Despite the stressful algorithm changes or the days when strong content is low, we still love social media. As social media continues to evolve, keep in mind how much it can benefit your business. We hope you continue to feel more confident in your Instagram-skills so you can take pride in your social pages. They are one of the best tools you have when it comes to publicizing your business!

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Social Media: A Guide for Wedding Professionals” by Vanessa Joy, Owner & Photographer of Vanessa Joy Photography. Premium Members can view the webinar recording in their accounts.

» How to Create the Ultimate Media List

This article was written by Education Expert, Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

Before launching a new PR campaign to publicize your wedding business, it is wise to research and carefully select the media that will receive your pitches and hopefully share your work and wisdom. A media wish list is more than just a collection of outlets and names in your genre; it is actually a set of goals for your campaigns, and the outline of your overall plan to gain attention and exposure. The ultimate media list takes time and research to create, but as the secret weapon behind your PR efforts, it can be pure gold.

Evaluate your goals

Every powerful media list starts with research. Use your market research to create a profile of your perfect clients. Understand who they are, what their level of education is, what they eat and read and enjoy. Know their habits – do they watch local morning television or the evening news? Do they use Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? Do they read alumni publications, special interest magazines, or popular blogs?

Understanding the behavior and psychology behind your ideal clients will help you determine which media outlets are strategically valuable, and which are not. You have limited time and effort to expend pitching media, so your list must be curated and your attempts strategic.

Craft a message

I have to emphasize how important it is that you craft an appealing message that answers your target’s needs and communicates something about your business that you want them to know. You’re creating a connection with your prospects, but your opportunity to influence with each press mention is brief, so you want your message to be clear, powerful and on point.

Consider what you have to share. Is it images of your recent work, great advice or an introduction of a product or service new to your market? Can you make relevant commentary on a current event or do you have a special connection to a popular trend? What do you have to offer that will intrigue your prospects enough to act and impress editors enough to include you?

Choose your target media

You have a profile of your ideal prospects and a message you want them to hear. Who should you pitch? At first, you’ll have a broad list of media of all kinds: blogs, magazines, local TV shows, national TV shows, radio and association publications to name just a few. Narrow the field by thinking of which ones appeal to your ideal prospects. Which match up to your profile? Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes and think of their lifestyle habits to help you determine where they receive their messages.

Reach out

It’s not always easy to predict which media will have the influence you are looking for, especially if your ideal client is different from you. When you don’t know, ask! Contact your current clients or happy past couples and ask them about their habits. Ask how they found you can how they tell their friends about you. Build on your current success.

Collect pertinent information

Once you have created a list, gather contact information to make it easy to pursue each lead when you have something to share. You’ll need the publication name, point of contact, email address, submission requirements and known deadlines which should be added to your editorial calendar. Staying organized will increase the efficiency of your efforts and yield greater results.

I know it seems like a lot of work, and may even appear to be a step that can be skipped, but curating your ultimate media list is a powerful way to focus your efforts and achieve ultimate success. Take the time now and you will reap the rewards in successful press down the road.

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting, which specializes in getting wedding professionals their brides. She is a highly sought after industry speaker and serves as a Public Relations adjunct professor for Virginia Commonwealth University, specializing in PW writing and brand promotion.

» 5 Easy Ways to Get More Referrals

Photo by Rania Marie Photography

Throughout wedding season, you will be working with plenty of new clients and wedding professionals, many of whom will be happy to pass your name around to future engaged couples if you make a great, lasting impression.

Word of mouth recommendations and referrals, especially from other industry professionals, are great ways to gain powerful business exposure and build trust with potential clients, yet many wedding professionals are hesitant to ask for them. If you want to start seeing more referrals (and we are positive that you do!) follow some of these tips:

Set expectations early

Early in the client process, you should let your clients know that feedback, reviews and referrals are very important to you. Explain how they help you better your business and gain new clients. It also is important to indicate that you appreciate and value all feedback, and that you will be following up to ask for it after their event. Having this conversation early in the planning process and throughout will reinforce how important it is to your business. Happy couples are most likely to help you out after you make their dream day come true, so make sure that you are not only having this conversation, but doing your best work, too!

Ask for feedback

Requesting reviews as part of your standard post-event follow up routine is so important. If you are not sure you want the client to submit a review, still follow up and ask for feedback and if they would recommend you to another engaged couple. They will appreciate that you care to check in on how you did, and all feedback can be valuable as you build your business.

Consider an incentive

If you really want to encourage past clients to refer your business, consider offering an incentive. Offer a fun freebie, or a discount on a post-wedding service that you can provide (such as infant photo shoots, or a discount on a flower arrangement or cake). Offering deals on post-wedding services is a great way to keep past clients in your circle. The more contact you have with past clients, the faster you will come top of mind when a friend asks for a recommendation.

Say thank you

Always say thank you for reviews and referrals! Let the referrer know that you appreciate their feedback, and be sure to acknowledge their support of your business. They took the time to write you a recommendation or share your information with a contact, so it is important you show the same respect and address their referral to maintain the positive relationship. Consider sending a personal note or small thank you gift, it’s a small gesture that will be much appreciated and could lead to many more referrals in the future!

Network

As you know, networking in the wedding industry is crucial. Many professionals are asked by couples who they would recommend in the local area for a wide variety of service categories, making it an easy way to book more business. Join local organizations, national associations in your service category, attend local networking events and always take the time to introduce yourself to other vendors working the events you book. Creating a strong circle of fellow wedding professionals is mutually beneficial to everybody involved: you get the opportunity to recommend your top contacts and those contacts will do the same for you.  

Capturing qualified leads through referrals will boost your business and make busy season work for you all year long. Maybe your busy season will extend far beyond October! Be sure to be open with your clients about referrals and never be afraid to seek them out. Also rely on your network and always be thankful to secure referrals. Best of luck!

» Marketing to Millennials: Your Questions Answered

Photo by Svetlana Photography

We love millennials, but… we can admit that this generation often has demands that can be difficult to satisfy. Millennials have shorter attention spans, ultra-high standards when it comes to social media and expect quick, seamless communication from their wedding professionals. They also make up 80% of engaged couples, which means that it’s in your best interest to meet their demands. To help you better cater to your audience, we’ve answered your top questions about marketing to millennials.

How do I reach more potential couples on Instagram instead of other industry professionals?

One way to grow your following of couples is to utilize cross-promotion on platforms where couples are already following you. For example, advertise your Instagram account on your Facebook page and include a mention of it with some photos in your emails for some free publicity.

Is it okay to have a different “Call to Action” on each page of my website?

A call to action, or a CTA, should directly relate to or build on the content presented on that particular page. As an example, on WeddingWire’s website, if a couple is on the venue page, the CTA is “book your venue”; on the website creation page, the CTA reads “get started”. In terms of your own website, if you have a reviews page, your call to action might be “read my recent reviews”.

Each individual CTA on your website, regardless of what it is, should ultimately lead someone to submit an inquiry. By building CTAs that lead to contact information submissions, you are handing yourself a qualified lead— which is the whole point of including CTAs. Having a CTA on each page creates a clear path for viewers to follow and collect information. Just remember to connect the dots if you have different CTAs on each page and be sure you are always guiding your potential customer to the most important actions.

What’s better: Instagram stories or Instagram posts?

Both! Consistency is key on Instagram. Your posts on Instagram should always be well thought out and feature the strongest pieces of visual content that you have. While you should be posting regularly, sometimes it can be difficult to have enough visually compelling content to share regularly. This is when Instagram stories can be immensely helpful. Instagram stories show that you are active on days when you might be unable to post, or only don’t have content worthy of sharing on your feed. Instead of adding a subpar photo to your feed, upload a story instead. Millennial couples love Instagram stories because they often show “behind-the-scenes” action and allow viewers to connect in a more personable way, since the content doesn’t need to be as curated as your post feed (and only lasts 24 hours).

Many millennials respond negatively to being overtly sold. Do we need to be more discrete in our tactics?

The best thing you can do in this scenario is to showcase the quality and value of your services. By expressing your value in terms of what you can offer as a service provider rather than what the cost buys a client, you will be able to sell clients without making it feel like an overt sale.

I have a lot of information to get across but my clients are shocked when I tell them we need to have a longer discussion. How do I go about telling them crucial information without losing their interest?

Keep in mind that millennials tend to err on the side of being know-it-alls— it’s part of their charm! So, when it comes to delivering a message you feel that they need to know, the best thing you can do is to keep it simple. Think of the WebMD symptom checker. When people are sick, many check their symptoms online first and then go to the doctor. Despite how wrong or right the online diagnosis was, the client did their research and “prediagnosed” themselves, then went to the expert to confirm. You are the expert in this case. It is your job to determine if the client already knows what they need to know, or if they need that longer discussion.

Some clients might scoff at the thought of a longer discussion because they may truly have the information already. If not, you need to provide your potential client with the information that you feel they need in the most concise and direct way. Even if you feel that describing key information is impossible to do in under four paragraphs without a hefty sum of attachments and charts, still attempt to reduce that information to the bare minimum. Succinctness is key!

Which word is better for your website’s SEO: pricing or investment?

If you are looking to drive up your website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) be sure that you are using the words “price” or “cost”– these are the common search terms. Couples are going to search “cost of wedding flowers” not “investment of wedding flowers”. For this reason, make sure any headings, tags and keywords include those words instead of  “investment”. However, when it comes to the general copy of your website’s text, it is perfectly okay to use the word “investment”, so long as price and/or cost is worked in somewhere.

Should my logo be on every page?

YES! As Sonny says, “you should always be branding!”

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Marketing to Millennials” by Sonny Ganguly, WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer. Premium Members can view the webinar recording in their accounts.

» 3 Unique Posts for Social Media

Photo by Vanessa Joy Photography

This article was written by Vanessa Joy, Owner & Photographer of Vanessa Joy Photography.

“I have bad news: Marketing is hard, and it keeps getting harder. But there’s no time to mourn the past or to feel sorry for ourselves, and there’s no point in self-pity anyway. It is our job as modern-day storytellers to adjust to the realities of the marketplace, because it sure as hell isn’t going to slow down for us.” Gary Vaynerchuk

This is a favorite quote of mine from Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook. Gary Vee wrote this in the beginning to his addendum in the book. As he was getting ready to hit “print”, Instagram added the video feature, making his newly finished book completely obsolete. As a result, he had to add on a whole new section of the book on this new development. How insanely frustrating.

How often do we feel the same way in our businesses? Especially with weddings, the demographic we’re trying to target is the one that changes the most rapidly. If you’re like me, you’re in a constant marketing method flux trying to find out what works and what doesn’t.

You know what? That’s a good thing.

The truth of it is exactly how Vaynerchuk put it, “There’s no time to mourn the past or to feel sorry for ourselves.” We have to move forward. We have to keep up with what’s happening in weddings and social trends. We have to find new ways to get our names and business out there despite the ever-changing social media algorithm.

If you’re as fed up with what works and what doesn’t on social media, definitely join me for the webinar Social Media: A Guide for Wedding Professionals on March 21 at 3:00pm EST (available to Premium WeddingWire members in your account Education Center). Until then, here are three types of posts you can try on your social media to get more reach.

#1 – Video

Whenever I get annoyed by an algorithm change on Facebook or Instagram I remember just one thing. Social media companies are businesses. They have goals and one of their main goals is to get people coming back to their platform and spending more time on it. Video is always a good way to boost your reach. Why? Because video makes people watch longer, even if just by a millisecond, so social media algorithms tend to like it because it helps achieve their own goals.

If you’re not sure what kind of videos you can make or post, check out five different types of marketing and communication videos I’ve made right here. There’s also a tutorial there that will show you just how easy making videos can be – even if you’re not a photographer or videographer.

#2 – Personality

I know what you’re thinking. “Should I put my personal life on my business profile?” Yes and no. No, I don’t think you have to or should necessarily, but yes I do think it’s engaging.

I’m not telling you to post anything about your personal life at all really. Instead, I’m telling you to show off your personality. Or, the personalities of some of your team members. This can be as simple as having your team show-off their favorite work-desk personal item. Or, even just an easily relatable personal life fact, like how you always wear new clothes once before washing them because they never feel the same again.

Whatever it is, find a way to bring some life into your brand. Consumers are very wise to well put together brands these days. Thanks to visual social media, the bar has been raised for even mom-and-pop shops to kick it up a notch in the branding department. I’m not talking just about logos and packaging, although that’s part of it, but personality plays a part here as well. I could go on, but you’ll find a ton of information on this topic in my FREE ebook 9 Secret Ways to Brand Your Business.

#3 – Engage

When you first read that, I imaging you thought “but I’m trying to get engagement!” Yes, you are. But social media is just that – social. So, go be social! It’s not all about you. It’s about them.

You posting on social media does not just mean you post on your on account/wall/feed. It means that you should spend some time posting on other people’s posts. No, I do not mean you should spam your latest sale to their wall, or ask them to check out your account in their photo comments.

Go discover new people, couples and wedding industry vendors alike, and engage them. Support what they’re doing. Ask questions about their posts in the comments. Find people to direct message and offer to collaborate even. Go ahead, make friends! That’s one of the things that is so great about our little wedding community.

Speaking of, I hope you’ll you’ll join me for my WeddingWire webinar Social Media: A Guide for Wedding Professionals on March 21 at 3:00pm EST (available to Premium WeddingWire members in your account Education Center). I’ll see you there!

Vanessa Joy has been an influential photographer in the wedding community for a decade. Starting her photographic journey in 1998, she has since earned 5 college degrees, and has spoken at almost every major convention and platform in the industry such as CreativeLIVE, Wedding MBA, WPPI, ShutterFest, Imaging USA, WeddingWire World, and Mobile Beat. Recognized for her talent and more so her business sense, her clients love working with her and industry peers love to learn from her generous, informative and open-book style of teaching. Check out more of her resources at www.BreatheYourPassion.com

» Branding Considerations for Newly-Diversified Services

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

Diversification is one of the key ways that owners of event businesses can boost income, attract new customers and ensure longevity in our competitive and dynamic industry. Once you have decided which complementary products or services to add to your business, (or other businesses you might acquire), you’ll need to get the word out and make sure your new branding makes sense to your market and peers.

What do you need to consider when branding your newly-diversified services?

The new you

As you expand your business offerings or choose new products and services to complement your brand, it’s important to have a distinct brand identity that encompasses both brands. For example, at one time Fantasy Sound was comprised of separate companies, one for DJ services and one for AV services. The names were similar, but the branding was different and people were confused. We fused the two companies together to create Fantasy Sound Event Services with a unified brand and our business took off.

Determine how the services relate

Wondering how to fuse your services into a single cohesive brand? Go back to the market research that you did before you diversified. You determined that your clients had additional needs and you had the product, skill and talent to fulfill their needs, right? Reflect on what you discovered about your clients during that phase and try to come up with a way to project a brand that addresses all of the needs you are able to meet.

Of course, you’ll also want to identify the biggest strengths of each brand. What are you bringing to the table that is unique to your business and superior when compared to competitors? It’s very similar to the process of branding your original company – you need to know your target market and how to identify those characteristics of your business that meet their unique needs. Then make sure you’re appealing to them and reaching them with your message.

Avoid this common mistake

The biggest mistake that business owners make when taking on a new brand and merging it with their existing business is not realizing the amount of time and the scope of work that the new brand requires. More often than not, the process is not as simple as “plug and play”. You’ll have to go back to the drawing board to create a new brand image, and success will take time. Plan for this when doing projections, managing income and revenue, and preparing for a period of challenging days, weeks and months ahead. But know that your efforts will be worth it in the long run.

Measure your success

Constantly evaluate your efforts once you have established your branding and always review the numbers on a regular basis. Acquiring a new brand absorbs a lot of capital in the beginning and you may not see a return for a while, so stay mindful of the overall trend. Set goals and determine what success means to you and how long you are willing to wait for it.

Creating a cohesive brand for your original company and your acquisitions may not have been the exciting part of diversification you were waiting for, but it is critical. Done well, it will likely be the key to your success.

Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the immediate past chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Upstairs Atlanta for our WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta!

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a beautifully rustic event space in West Midtown! Guests met other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and tips on how to handle tough pricing questions, presented by WeddingWire’s Education Expert, Alan Berg!

Thank you to all the wonderful wedding professionals who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Thanks to all that attended!


» Social Media Dos and Don’ts for Attracting Millennial Couples

As we know, millennial audiences are heavily invested in social media, spending about 5.5 hours a day on average engaging with social media. For wedding professionals marketing to millennial couples, this means that if your social media pages aren’t up to par, you may be missing out on their business. Not sure what they are looking for? We’ve put together our top social media dos and don’ts to ensure that your business’s social media pages are ready for the eyes of your millennial market.

DO’S

Do have (and maintain) social media pages. Seems simple enough, but there are still many wedding professionals out there without a social media presence! When millennial couples are beginning their initial wedding vendor search, they will look to your social media pages for a first pass impression. These pages help them visually gauge the quality of services that your business can offer. Without that visual aid, not only do you run the risk of looking outdated, they may pass you by altogether. So if you are currently missing from the social media world, it’s time to sign up!

Do prioritize Facebook and Instagram. These are the two most popular platforms among millennial audiences. While there are many other platforms to choose from, millennials truly value your presence on these two. Aim to use these platforms as regularly as possible, post only your strongest content and engage with your audience frequently through the comments. If you do those three things on each platform, your brand awareness will see positive impact and millennials are sure to be impressed with what they see.

Do favor quality over quantity. While you might use another platform, like your website, to feature all of your content, you should be incredibly selective of what you post to Facebook and Instagram. Instagram in particular should be the “trophy case” for your best and most recent visual content. Many businesses make the mistake of trying to upload too regularly or post without a direction, that they often lose sight of the quality of the content they are posting. While you should aim to post frequently, if your content isn’t strong and visually pleasing, it’s not going to impress millennials. Additionally, over posting is just as unimpressive as posting lackluster content. We suggest posting no more than twice a day and no less than once a week to keep your followers and prospective clients hooked.

Do utilize Instagram stories. We weren’t kidding when we said to focus on Instagram! Instagram’s story feature is a great way to engage potential clients in a more casual way by sharing what you are doing on the job or behind-the-scenes. This feature also allows you to stay active without always spending the time required to curate the beautiful, consistent flow of visual content on your Instagram feed. Since Instagram stories are only viewable for 24 hours, you don’t have to worry as much about posting “perfect” content. Use stories as a way to build an emotional connection with your potential clients; millennial couples will love to see your genuine personality come through and learn more about you.

 

DON’TS

Don’t focus on YouTube, Twitter or Blogs. We can’t stress Facebook and Instagram enough. They are where you want to spend most of your time because they have the best payout and visibility. YouTube and Twitter are great social media sites, but connecting with potential clients on these platforms is not as easy. Twitter is best for communicating with other businesses, or for B2B communication, and YouTube probably won’t be needed unless you are a videographer or produce a ton of video content. Blogs can also be a great way to show off your personality and share more about your business, but producing blog content can also be a major time commitment. Unless you are prepared to dedicate a lot of time to writing frequent blog posts, blogs can be nixed, too, in favor of maintaining your social media presence.

Don’t show just the end shots. The majority of photos uploaded are of beautiful end products: the finished floral centerpieces, the intricately constructed updo or the frosted cake. End shots are great to see, but sometimes upload after upload of beautiful end shots leaves us wanting more. Think about it: how many end shots like this do you see when you scroll through your feed? They are the vast majority of all uploads.

People want to see some grit, too! For the same reason we mentioned Instagram stories, millennial couples want to see behind the scenes. Even though these action or behind the scenes shots aren’t typically “polished”, there is still a way to make them look visually appealing. If you are building a bouquet, take a photo of your table with your supplies, tools and loose florals. These shots might require some staging, but couples love these posts because it shows your expertise and dedication to your craft. More importantly, it shows the sheer amount of work that you put in to get the high quality product that they see in those end shots.

Don’t post on Instagram without a direction. Your content should be cohesive and your posts should all build to tell your brand story. Having a direction in mind when you post is integral to maximize your social impact. Think about your brand. Your social media, and especially Instagram, is a highly visual representation of your brand. If you post photos aimlessly, your Instagram’s overall feed is going to look scattered and send a confusing message to couples. Try uploading pictures with a similar color palette, similar lighting, or similar subjects and themes. Uploading photos that look similar, despite the “differing” content is going to help give your feed a cohesive, clean look. Planning ahead can also help you plan out the visual story you are telling; there are some great tools out there like Planoly that can help you plan your Instagram content and preview how it will look in your feed before you post.

Don’t post just text to Facebook. Every facebook post you make should have a piece of content attached to it. Plain text posts on Facebook used to be the norm for the platform, but not in 2018. If you have text to post, attach a photo with it. If you are posting a link, Facebook automatically attaches a thumbnail from the link to add more visuals, but if that thumbnail is plain or broken, attach another photo and remove the thumbnail. From attaching videos to gifs, Facebook posts should never be just plain text! Millennials are a visual generation and you should use every opportunity to showcase your work.

Creating beautiful, cohesive and on-brand social pages take time to build and maintain. Take comfort in knowing that phenomenal Instagram pages don’t just happen overnight! Don’t be afraid to test and try different types of content to see what works best for your business.   Mastering social media might have a bit of a learning curve, but if you keep these steps in mind, you’ll be sure to impress those millennial clients. Happy posting!

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Marketing to Millennials” by Sonny Ganguly, WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer. Premium Members can view the webinar recording in their accounts.

» Is Your Communication Cutting It With Millennials?

Photo by Justin Kunimoto Photography

Even though the average age of your target audience remains generally consistent over the years (engaged couples in their 20s and 30s), it’s important to remember that shifting generations come with shifting client expectations. Millennials have different habits and needs than those of the GenX generation — especially when it comes to communication. Is your communication approach with clients up-to-date? Review these best practices from WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer Sonny Ganguly and get up to speed.

Communicate on social media

If you haven’t already, start setting up the ground work to communicate with your clients through your social media pages. Every major platform has a direct messaging service that makes it easy and convenient for clients to shoot you a message while they browse your page or feed. Messaging through these platforms is only going to become more popular, and may even become the norm for bookings. If you want to be a strong communicator in the digital age, you have to be prepared to check every digital platform that you are on frequently (at least once a day!) to see if messages from potential clients are coming in.

Being aware of incoming messages is one thing, but getting them in the first place is another. Letting clients know that you are able to chat through these mediums is crucial. A good indication that you can be contacted through social media is through frequent and consistent posting. If your last Instagram post was three weeks ago, a potential client probably won’t feel confident that you will reply in a timely manner. Post regularly to show that you have eyes on your platform(s) at all times.

Another great way to encourage messaging over social media is to be active in your posts through comments. Replying to comments and engaging with your followers is a great strategy to help boost a client’s confidence in communicating with you via social media.

Reply as quickly as possible

The majority of couples expect a vendor to reply within 24 hours. It may seem like a quick turnaround, but most bookings end up going to the vendor that replies first. Only 39% of professionals respond in 24 hours, which means there is some serious opportunity to improve and make a great impression on potential clients. If you want to maximize your bookings, not only should you be regularly active on social media, *hint hint*, but you should also be replying as soon as you can. Remember that we live in a world of instant gratification and your clients will expect quick replies.

Always request reviews (and respond!)

95% of couples use and trust reviews to book their wedding professionals. Because of that, you should always be requesting reviews from past couples. Most reviews get written 2-3 weeks post-wedding, so don’t get anxious if a couple has yet to write anything. Review timing also depends on what services you offer. If you are in a pre-wedding service, such as invitations, expect your reviews much earlier. If you are in the photography or videography business, expect your reviews 5-6 weeks after the wedding. Still no reviews after this timeframe? Reach out! It doesn’t hurt to contact a couple and ask them to provide a review.

Once you receive a review, respond to it! Replying to all reviews is a great way to to show not only the reviewer, but also potential clients reading those reviews, how much you care. Instead of a generic “Thank you!”, the best thing that you can do is write a personalized response with reinforcements on the services and skills you are capable of delivering. (Ex: “It was a joy working with you, Nora. The mini hydrangea bouquets we did for your party were some of my favorites yet!”) Perspective couples are sure to take notice of your personable replies and be able to see what you are capable of delivering. But be careful — if you reply to one review, you should to reply to every review.

When it comes to replying to a negative review, don’t pour fuel on a fire. Remember to be kind, do your best not to be defensive and apologize, even if you’re not at fault. These responses should be written with potential clients in mind.

Reciprocate channels

48% of couples report being frustrated when you don’t communicate on their preferred channel. If they direct message you through Instagram, direct message them back on Instagram. Unless they tell you to contact them through a different medium, you should reply in the same way they reached out. Remember: If a customer wanted to hear your voice, they would have called you instead of writing you an email. Once your communication and relationship has been established with a potential client and you determine that a different communication channel could lead to more productive next steps, feel free to suggest a phone call, in-person meeting, or another communication method. Just be prepared to be as flexible and accommodating as possible— your clients will appreciate it!

Communication can be frustrating, all the more so now that communication norms are ever-changing. Yet, setting up good, clear paths for communication by following our steps will allow for both you and your clients to breathe a sigh of relief. When you open up the correct channels to become a good communicator,

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Marketing to Millennials” by Sonny Ganguly, WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer. Premium Members can view the webinar recording in their accounts.

» Ways to Make Your Website Accessible for More Clients

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Kathryn Hamm.

The first and easiest part of being more inclusive in your digital marketing is to diversify representation within your images and text. As I’ve written previously, this includes written and visual representation of “brides and grooms” or “engaged couples;” of same-sex couples; of various races and ethnicities, religious rituals and physical abilities, shapes and sizes. These are simple cues that say “I see you” to prospective clients who might not feel included in mainstream wedding media.

Consistency is key

Though this may be enough to broaden your appeal to more clients, I advise wedding professionals to seek more information to understand the nuance of need beneath a first impression. It’s important to recognize that when a client feels “seen,” they are more likely to make an inquiry, but also they are more likely to hire you if you can deliver a truly inclusive experience from beginning to end.

Consider the case of a Caucasian stylist who features African-American brides on her website, but does not have a wide range of foundations and complementary hues for darker skin tones or an understanding of styles that are trending amongst black brides. Or the photographer who books a same-sex couple but applies a heteronormative (one bride, one groom) approach to the poses of two grooms or two brides or offers a referral to a caterer who is outspoken against same-sex marriage. When broadening your service offering, extra homework, preparation and consistency goes a long way.

Consider your website accessibility for all clients

Though your website may offer that “first impression” opportunity for some clients, it can also result in couples (and/or their attendants and guests) who have disabilities leaving your website quickly due to accessibility issues.

Below are a few simple tips to enhance your website to be more inclusive and accessible for clients with disabilities. Remember: these considerations may be important for the engaged person who is doing the planning, but might also be important for engaging the collaborative assistance of a parent or best man or best woman.

  1. Image accessibility
    Make sure that your key images and actionable buttons are large enough to be seen by someone with limited eyesight and that your ‘alt tags’ and ‘title tags’ clearly describe the content in an image so that a screen reader can interpret that visual information in a spoken form for those who are blind or dyslexic. It’s likely that many of you are already tending to your ‘alt tags’ for SEO (and if not you should be!) so this additional consideration increases the value of your business investment.
  2. Text accessibility
    Consider the flexibility of your written content to make sure that the information you are presenting comes across impactfully if a client is using a screen magnification tool to enlarge the text or a screen reader to interpret the text. It can also be helpful to make sure that your links are underlined or otherwise clearly differentiated from your normal text so that those who are color blind can easily find important links on your site.
  3. Video accessibility
    As you publish video content of your work or expertise on your website and in social media feeds, make sure to offer a clear description about the main point of your content, but also consider adding subtitles or investing in a sign language interpreter to provide a translation for those who are deaf.
  4. Inclusive representation
    Beyond including images of brides, grooms and guests with disabilities in your marketing images, take the time to find a local ASL interpreter to include in your referral list and/or professional network. If you aren’t otherwise required by ADA compliance, take a take a test tour of your office, event space or venue in a wheelchair to understand where access may be an issue. Or consider having a large print or screen-reader-friendly version of your contract so that a client with a visual impairment or dyslexia can more easily understand all of the terms related to the booking.

These small adjustments can be made during your next website update or as an improvement to your next blog, social media or video post. And, beyond making a meaningful difference for many brides and grooms with disabilities, engaged couples who are looking out for their guests with disabilities will also appreciate that you are ready, willing and able to serve them, too.

Did you know? Apple products have a wide range of accessibility tools built in to its iOS. If you have an iPad or iPhone, explore the features on your own device to see how those with vision, hearing or physical disabilities might be accessing your digital presence without even realizing it. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility.

kathryn hammThis post was written by Kathryn Hamm WeddingWire Education Expert, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

» How to Captivate the Fleeting Attention Span of Millennials

captivate millennials

Photo by Eileen K Photography

Did you know the average adult attention span is only eight seconds? That means you have just eight seconds to make an impression on a potential client, much like we only have eight seconds to convince you to read the rest of this post. In these eight seconds, it is crucial to make a compelling statement about your brand and show off the best of what you have to offer in order to inspire a potential client to stick around and learn more.

Millennials, or Generation X, have greatly contributed to the dwindling average of our attention spans, in large part because they are the ones who have fuelled the transition from partial screen time to constant screen time. 80% of currently engaged couples are millennials, and they are spending more money on weddings than ever before. On average, millennial couples are spending $31,000 on their weddings as opposed to Generation Y, who spent an average of $24,000. Additionally, millennials are hiring more vendors and having longer engagements, giving them more time to plan their nuptials.

In order to grab the attention of a potential client, whether it’s their first WeddingWire search or their first time coming across your business Instagram, it is imperative that things look great when they land on any one of your pages. We work in a visual industry, meaning that any content you post must [subtly] scream for attention. Here’s 6 tips from WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly to help you do it:

Always be branding
Ultimately, you have to pull your audience in with your brand. Potential clients – aka millennials – won’t stick around if they aren’t compelled by something. WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sonny Ganguly, says that your brand is “more than a logo”. Every single aspect of your company, from your logo, to the design of your website, to a picture that you upload to Facebook, is a representation of your brand. If this content isn’t captivating, consistent, and representative of you as a brand, potential clients are going to move on. Remember: Your brand is one of the best ways to stand out from your competition, so be proud to convey your “why” at every turn.

Update, update, update!
Just like you would take your car in for an oil change or upgrade your mobile device when a new model comes out, you should constantly be working on your website to keep it running and relevant. Think about how often popular platforms and websites update their formats and interfaces, or even how frequently app icons change. If you aren’t making changes and tweaks to your website often enough, visitors are going to stop coming to your site if there is nothing new to see. Some first-timers will even leave without a chance of revisiting if they feel like your website looks outdated.

But how do you make time for this in your busy schedule? The more often you take the time to make small adjustments to your website here and there, the less time you will need to spend down the road completely bulldozing and rebuilding your website when everything becomes outdated. Your website should never be something placed on the backburner – instead, dedicate 30 minutes each week to revising your site.

Think mobile
Your website must be mobile-friendly. It should look almost exactly the same on your mobile as it does on your desktop. It should also function just like the desktop version, have the same information available, lead to the same (working) links and have everything displayed in a clean and visually appealing format. The majority of couples are wedding planning on their phones, and it would be a missed opportunity not to have your mobile site up to par.

Be upfront
Every single piece of information that you can provide about your business and services should be made easily accessible to potential clients. This is a controversial one, but millennials don’t like small talk. Thus, requiring them to reach out for general pieces of information about your services is not ideal. It’s also a drain on your time when you have to respond to questions that could be easily available on an FAQ page. Let them find the information that they need and then contact you when they are already hooked.

Speaking of being upfront, not providing pricing on your website(s) is a huge turn off for couples who are looking for vendors. Seeing “Please contact for pricing” on a website is a big frustration for couples. This is because price, followed by reviews, is the number one thing couples are looking for when searching for vendors. By not listing your pricing, you are potentially losing sales instead of gaining them.

Reduce fields
Plain and simple: the less information that potential clients are required to provide on an inquiry form, the more inquiries you will get. By reducing the fields, you can see a +47% increase in the number of inquiries received. Reducing fields also helps you keep your mobile audience engaged. If you have more than three inquiry fields, consider rethinking the essential information you need at first contact versus the information you want.

Go the extra mile
When you get a new booking and client, focus on going above and beyond from day one.  Going the extra mile for your clients is what will make them remember you, especially post-wedding. If you do something special for your clients, not only will you get glowing reviews and a confidence boost, but you can bet on a couple of referrals, too! Yes, it takes a bit of time, effort and energy, but the payoff and reward can make all the difference for your business.

Get ready for Generation Z
They are coming and they will be here sooner than you think! Millennials were slowly introduced to groundbreaking technologies and dependency on tech, but Generation Z grew up with it. While Generation X prefers this newer tech-heavy lifestyle, they are still relatively familiar with the “traditional” (read: outdated) aspects of business. Gen Z won’t be.

To be prepared for tackling Generation Z, who will be having their own weddings soon enough (the oldest GenZers are currently 18), you have to master your millennial audience first. Be aware of trends and incorporate them into your brand and platforms to help you stay connected to your “younger” audiences. If you treat the millennial audience as a very serious “practice round” as you update aspects of your business, you will have an easier time adapting to fit the demands of Gen Z. when they come along.

Since millennials are making up the bulk of the current wedding market — and time is of the essence here — make sure you keep these 6 crucial tips in mind to help you hook, line, and sink as many new millennial couples as possible before their attention goes elsewhere.

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Marketing to Millennials” by Sonny Ganguly, WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer. Premium Members can view the webinar recording in their accounts.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Phoenix

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Tercero by Aldea Weddings for WeddingWire Networking Night Phoenix!

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a stunning bohemian event space! Guests met other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and how to better serve millennial couples, presented by WeddingWire’s Regional Director of Sales, Alicia Darrow!

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Thanks to all that attended!

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography