» 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 Build Your Network and Collect More Content

Photo by Vanessa Joy Photography

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

I remember the first time I went to a wedding convention. It seemed like everyone knew everyone else; but the only person I knew was the bathroom attendant because my naturally introverted self would frequently hide there. I’m sure I’m not alone in being able to empathize with DJ Tanner from Full House, eating alone in the bathroom on her first day of high school. For the record, no, I didn’t eat in the bathroom – ew.

If you’re a budding industry professional, you may notice that a large part of the industry is who you know. Now, that’s not to say our livelihood is superficial in any way. It’s to draw attention to just how powerful networking is in our line of work. We’re a large industry, but a small community.

Networking may seem daunting, but building relationships within the wedding world is crucial not just to the success of your business, but to your enjoyment of it as well. After all, don’t you want to work with your friends every weekend? Here are 4 tips to up your networking game.

Read up on it

If you’re not a natural go-getter or social butterfly, it’s ok! Heck, I was homeschooled for 9 years of my life. Social graces were not on my side for most of my life. I had to learn them the good old-fashioned way: reading a book. Ok fine… listening to one on audible.

I do recommend Carnegie’s book, but another favorite of mine is Never Eat Alone. As an Italian, this is pretty much a rule for me anyway, but bringing it to business takes it to a whole new level. Read it and you’ll have breakfast, lunch and dinner dates at the next WeddingWire World no problem.

Use social

In what other century have you had direct access to someone’s personal line, without needing to get through their secretary? None. Thanks to social media, you have that power right at your fingertips.

Don’t underestimate what you can use social media for. I recently covered a HUGE part of this on a recent WeddingWire webinar Social Media: A Guide for Wedding Professionals. You should be using social media to connect with as many other wedding professionals as you can. Here’s an even bigger tip – connect with professionals before an upcoming conference by searching the conference’s hashtag. Bingo! You’ve made friends before you even stepped off the plane.

Stop reaching for the stars

Now I know your mom told you otherwise, but I’m here to bring you down to earth. As fabulous as it would be to take my advice from the previous tip and contact David Tutera and Silvia Weinstock and become besties immediately, it’s probably not going to happen. Why? Not only is everyone already barking up that tree, but they’ve been in the business for a while and already have their circle of tight friends.

Instead, make your own referral network. Befriend the next Marcy Blum or Fred Marcus (sorry to keep using NYC Wedding Vendors… it’s just where I’m from) by reaching out to people on your level of experience and clientele. Build each other up to be the next big thing.

Find photographers

It’s always funny to me when I hear that other wedding professionals have a hard time getting photos from photographers. You might not know this, but wedding planners, caterers, florists, bands, dj’s and venues are like the holy grail to us wedding photographers. To me, you’re the key to clients, and usually luxury clients that’ll spend more money on photography.

However, I know that it can be hard to get photos, so inside this last tip, I’ve got a few more for you that’ll help you get more photos of your work that you can use on social media to show off your services and connect with other vendors.

Offer Something, Anything

Now, I do not charge most vendors to use my photos on social media from weddings that I’ve worked. A lot of photographers feel the same way and are happy for the cross-promotion. However, contacting a photographer and expecting them to give you photos for free isn’t going to fly. It’s only polite to offer something in return, even if it’s not monetary.

Help Submit Weddings

You wouldn’t believe how much work is involved for a photographer after a wedding. Usually it’s where your wedding headaches end, and ours begin. Often when we’re being asked for photos, it’s another thing on our long to-do list.

However, if we give you photos, you can help us by submitting the wedding photos to popular magazines and blogs. If you have connections to some – even better! Obviously, make sure this is ok with the photographer first. But typically we’d be thrilled to have this taken off our plate and it’s a win-win when the photos get published.

Offer Future Collaboration

Us photographers need (and should want) to build relationships too. When you’re asking for photos, find ways to work with us again. Maybe you’re a makeup artist and you can offer to do hair and makeup for the photographer’s next headshot (we all need updated ones!). Or perhaps you’re an officiant that can provide some ceremony text that’ll make for a great blog post on the photographer’s blog. You could even suggest doing a styled shoot and get a whole group of vendors involved. The possibilities are endless, but if you start your intentions with serving other people, it’s amazing how much more you’ll get in return than you originally hoped for.

Use the Photos

Once you’ve snagged some photos and hopefully started a wonderful new work friendship, don’t hesitate to use the photos for LOTS of things! The more times you use them, the more the photographer will benefit from the cross-promotion. Make videos (super amazing for social posts) like these marketing and communication videos I’ve made right here. Use the photos alone in tons of social media posts like the ones I suggest here.

The Wedding Industry may ebb and flow but it’s always built on relationships. Spend time cultivating new ones and nurturing the ones you have and you’ll never be without work.

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

» 5 Ways to Reach Couples on Social Media

Photo by Vanessa Joy Photography

With more tech-savvy millennials relying on social media platforms to research (and even book!) wedding professionals, your social media presence is critical. From sharing strong visual content to growing your following, we have five tips for mastering your wedding business’ social media pages with the help of Vanessa Joy, owner and photographer of Vanessa Joy Photography.

Innovate

While your social media platforms should act as a secondary portfolio to show off you work, your feed should feature more than just that. Diversifying your feed not only helps your page stick out amongst competition, but it also encourages viewers to stick around longer. When you think about it, one of the premises of social media is to keep viewers on your page(s) as long as possible and maintain engagement with your brand. Instead of only uploading photos of your work, try mixing in stories, videos, graphics, or different photos that relate to topics your audience would be interested in.

For example, share a photo of your workspace, or a video of your favorite hobby. Couples will love learning more about you and it will help build a stronger connection to your brand. It will also create a more dynamic feed and motivate your audience to keep coming back. Vanessa suggests weaving in content that relates to wedding trends, fashion and even home-making because these topics are relevant to most potential clients. By being innovative when it comes to exploring new post ideas you will impress viewers as an expert in the wedding industry as well as someone they can relate to.

Tags and hashtags

Using tags and hashtags is another great way to boost your pages. For those new to social media, hashtags (#) are a way of tagging specific user-generated messages or themes that other people can see, follow and track. Tags (@) are a way of tagging other user’s pages to help to engage users, give credit where credit is due and expand your network through mutual connections.

Using hashtags in your captions, whether they are unique or trending, can help raise the visibility of your post(s). When using hashtags, make sure they are relevant to the content of the photo. As an example, you shouldn’t upload a photo of a wedding dress and use #breakfast or #marchmadness in the caption. Doing so, can be misleading and will be seen by a group of people that probably aren’t looking for wedding related content.

Connect with new people

Social media is a great way to expand your network. Of course you want to use your social media to gain leads, but connecting with other wedding professionals is beneficial, too. We understand that finding new people to connect with can be challenging, so, where do you start? Where do you look? Turns out, it’s a lot easier than you might think.

Vanessa suggests keeping your connections local. We love our friends who are far away, but local connections can provide referrals to local clients that are more likely to use your services. A great way to search for local wedding professionals is through using relevant, local hashtags, such as “#LAphotography”. Then, start following other local vendors that are using that hashtag, and try commenting on one or two of their posts with a friendly compliment (don’t spam them, though!).

Another way to find local connections is by searching a nearby location, such as a popular event venue, on Instagram. Think about peak wedding times, such as a Saturday night, and then view the posts that are being tagged at that location. There, you can find many potential clients who are in the perfect target market for your services. By having a strong network of fellow vendors and potential clients in your target demographic, you can gain referrals, helpful insights and future leads.

Engage

When you think “social media”, the first word that should come to mind is “engagement”. Instagram and Facebook frequently change their algorithms that control your page and post visibility. We understand why changes to these algorithms can be frustrating, especially when they can affect your marketing strategy, but the one thing we know to always be true is that both platforms consistently favor engagement.

Facebook and Instagram are businesses. Just as you want more viewers and followers on your social pages, these major platforms want users to stay on their platform for as long as possible; it’s how they make money. One way to increase the amount of time spent on a platform is through engagement. Replying to comments, posting frequent stories, offering engaging polls and posting content often, will increase the engagement on your page and increase your favor by the algorithm.

Visualize

Lastly, social media platforms are highly visual and therefore you should aim to be a visual storyteller. These channels revolve around bite-sized, visual content – think beautiful photos, quick videos (30 seconds or less) and short captions. Do your best to select and curate strong imagery and create engaging videos that tell a story without many words. Millennials often prefer visuals to reading so if you want to hook a millennial, do your best to limit the text and keep your visual content fresh, engaging and high quality.

Social media is always adapting and we know it can feel like a full-time job keeping up. However, taking the time to market your business on social media will be rewarding when your following grows and leads and referrals are coming your way. Just remember that your social media presence is quickly becoming the determinant of your credibility as a wedding professional, especially amongst millennial couples. Keep those posts visual, engaging and make new connections!

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.

» 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

» Announcing #Ourkindoflove Campaign

As we gear up for busy season, we are excited to announce #ourkindoflove! This social media campaign, running through March 31st, is all about sharing what #ourkindoflove means to you. Whether it’s your love for your craft, your love for working in the wedding industry, your love for turning couples dreams into reality, your love for traveling, or absolutely anything else that is special to you, we are inviting you to share it on Instagram!

We believe that your stories, passions and experiences are unique and we’d love to hear them. To share, visit our campaign landing page to customize a photo that captures your kind of love and then upload it to Instagram with hashtag #ourkindoflove and tag @WeddingWire and @WeddingWireEDU. Each share on Instagram will enter you for a chance to win one of five weekly prizes of $250!  

You can also encourage your couples to join in and share their kind of love too! Use this as an opportunity to reach out to current, potential and past clients and give them a chance to win great prizes!

Ready to enter and share? Here are the steps:

  1. Upload a photo here and tell us what your love means to you with a custom filter overlay
  2. Share + tag your custom image on Instagram with hashtag #ourkindoflove and tag @WeddingWire and @WeddingWireEDU

Make sure to follow the hashtag #ourkindoflove to keep up with the fun posts and inspiration!

» 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.

» #JustSaidYes is Here – Share With Your Couples!

Engagement season is officially here and we are excited to launch our annual campaign for couples, #JustSaidYes! The contest, held during peak engagement season, asks couples to share their engagement moment on social media with #justsaidyes and @weddingwire for a chance to win the grand prize of $10,000 towards amazing wedding vendors like you!

Last year the #JustSaidYes campaign received over 34,000 entries, 114,000 landing page visits and over 46,000 new instagram followers – that’s a lot of newly engaged couples on the hunt for their dream wedding team! This year the campaign will be bigger than ever, and will bring more couples to your doorstep.  Want to get in on the buzz? Share these simple steps so that couples can enter to win:

  1. Get engaged and snap a photo!
  2. Share the photo via Instagram or upload a photo to the #JustSaidYes website
  3. Post the photo and tag @weddingwire and #JustSaidYes to enter

Lucky winners will be announced throughout the campaign from December 1, 2017 through February 28, 2018. One grand prize winner will receive $10,000 towards their wedding team, and three monthly winners will receive fantastic prizes for their wedding and honeymoon including: a wedding dress from Allure Bridals, two sets of luggage from AWAY and a $2,500 gift card from Blue Nile. See full terms and conditions here.

Make sure to follow along to see fun engagement posts and engagement inspiration shared on social media this engagement season using #JustSaidYes.

» 5 Instagram Must-Haves for Engagement Season

instagram

Photo by Clay Swanson Photography

Engagement season is quickly approaching, and one of the first places couples will research vendors is on Instagram! To prepare, you should make sure your profile is in tip-top shape so that couples feel drawn to you when they come across your content. Once you draw them in, you should also make sure to prompt them to visit your website or send you an inquiry.

Here are five things that your Instagram profile should have in order to stand out to couples this engagement season.

Make your bio shine

When couples land on your Instagram profile, one of the first things they will see is your bio. Instagram bios can be a max of 150 characters, so you must make every character count. Here are a few things to remember to include when writing your bio:

  • Succinctly explain what you do and who your ideal client is
  • Show your personality
  • Include a call to action

Read more about how to write a social media bio that attracts couples here.

Create a clear call-to-action

Just like you should have on your Storefront or website, a call-to-action on your social media channels is a must! You’ve captivated a couple so don’t let them leave without giving them direction to head to your website or contact you. There are two great places to do this on your Instagram profile:

  1. Your Bio – Give couples an instruction in your bio. For example, you might say, “Click below to see my full portfolio!” or “Message me to learn more!” or “Have a question? Let’s chat!”
  2. Your Link – When you click to edit your profile in the Instagram app, you will see a field where you can enter your website URL. Use this strategically by linking to your About Me page, a lead magnet landing page, or a portfolio page. This will give potential clients the most important information about your business and motivate them to contact you.  

Post quality content daily

After making sure that your profile is captivating and providing direction to incoming couples, make sure that you are staying top of mind! One of the best ways to stand out from your competitors is to have a fresh,  up-to-date Instagram feed. This will help showcase your work as for couples that follow you and ensure that you  continue to pop up in their feed.

Don’t forget that Instagram is a visual platform, so when posting regularly,make sure that you are posting visually appealing and inspiring content. You want to post aspirational content that makes a couple stop and think “Wow – I want to be THAT couple.” Apply these tips for curating Storefront photos to your Instagram feed.

Show your personality

You may be using Instagram to market your business, but remember – couples also care about the person behind the business, too. Every so often, post photos that tell a bit about you and show your personality. You can share selfies, photos of your work space, photos taken with past clients, or even just photos of things that make you happy throughout your day. This will help you create a connection with couples and attract more ideal clients.

Optimize for engagement

There are two kinds of Instagram engagement that you should focus on. The first is on your profile itself. Couples want to see that your posts have likes and comments. To increase engagement, include relevant hashtags and ask questions in your captions to encourage people to comment.

The second is your engagement with other profiles. Avoid only logging into Instagram to post your own photos. Instead, make sure to spend a few minutes each day browsing through your feed, liking and commenting on others’ posts. You can also search for hashtags that local couples may use in their posts, then engage with their posts. This will grab their attention and encourage them to click through to your profile.

» 3 Key Ways Millennial Couples are Different from Past Generations

millennial couples

Photo by Anna Simonak Photography

Millennials (also known as Gen Y), whose current age ranges from 16-34, account for roughly 25% of today’s US population – making them the largest living generation. As of 2017, U.S. Millennials are estimated to spend roughly $200 billion annually, make up 75% of the workplace and comprise the majority of the consumer market within the next 10 years.

Why does this matter for your business? The Millennial generation is at the age where major life events are taking place, like graduating, buying a house, and getting married. In fact, more than 80% of WeddingWire couples are Millennials! Knowing where they are in their life stages is key for understanding how to communicate with this important group.

Millennials are willing to spend more to personalize their weddings

Over the past 10 years we’ve continued to see overall guest count decrease, regardless of age, whereas the total spend per guest is on the rise. Couples are willing to spend extra on each guest in order to really personalize their big day and make it memorable and unique. On average, millennials spend $31,000 on their wedding, whereas GenXers spend $24,000 on fewer guests. A few other points of differentiation between Millennials and their older counterparts:

  • Engagement Length: 13 months for Millennials, 11 months for GenX
  • Number in Wedding Party: 10 for Millennials, 7 for GenX
  • Number of Vendors Hired: 11 for Millennials, 9 for GenX

87% of Millennials report having their smartphones on them at all times

Millennials are the “mobile generation” — everything they do or want to do can be done on-the-go, so a non-existent or poor mobile website can be an instant deal breaker for this group! Make mobile a priority by doing a full sweep of your online properties from your mobile website to your emails, and make sure the content is easily digestible (and layout is responsive) on smartphones and tablet devices.

Nearly all (89%) of Millennials report using social media

Millennials spend about 5 ½ hours on social media daily, most of the time via mobile devices, so it’s important for your business to have an active presence online. Make sure to post interesting, relevant content that will grab their attention. Keep your content visual and whimsical by incorporating useful videos, tips or advice! Use hashtags to focus on key topics and don’t forget to interact with followers, prospective clients and other industry professionals.

Remember: Just because we’re focusing on Millennials, these tips and tricks are relevant for ALL of your customers. Thinking about age and generation is one helpful way to think about where you customers are in their life stage and how can you best serve and meet their needs!

» How to Run a Facebook Contest This Engagement Season

Walking Eagle Photography

Photo by Walking Eagle Photography

Running contests and giveaways is a great way to get engagement and visibility for your Facebook page, but it’s important to be aware of the  promotional guidelines you must follow to ensure a successful promotion. Before running a Facebook contest or giveaway this engagement season, we recommend brushing up on Facebook’s guidelines in order to avoid your account being flagged or shut down. Here are three of Facebook’s rules that you may not have known about before.

You cannot ask for shares or tags as a requirement for entry

“Share this post and tag a friend in the comments to enter!” is a common line found in contest posts on Facebook, and it makes sense, right? Shares get you in front of more people and if someone tags a friend who is engaged, it can get you in front of more potential clients – plus, everyone asks for shares and tagging in the comments! It can’t be that bad…right?

As innocent as it may seem, asking for people to share your post or tag a friend violates Facebook’s guidelines. The official Facebook rule states, “Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions.”

This means that you cannot ask for people to: share your post to their page, share your post to a friend’s page, tag friends in the comments, or tag friends or themselves in a photo in order to enter your contest.

However, you can ask people to like the post or comment in order to enter. You can even encourage tagging a friend in the comments or sharing the post to spread the word, as long as it is not a condition to enter the contest.

You must state the official terms and eligibility requirements for your contest

Your post should explain the rules of the contest or giveaway. Make sure to include minimum age, location, or other requirement for entry, along with how the winner will be chosen and any other terms that you would like to include. If you have longer terms and conditions, you can always link to a web page that outlines them.

For example, if you are a wedding photographer hosting a giveaway for a free engagement session, you may want to state that all eligible participants must be engaged, living within your state, and must be getting married within a certain timeframe.

You must state that Facebook is in no way affiliated with or sponsoring your contest

Facebook requires that you make it clear that they are not connected with your contest whatsoever. The easiest way to do this and cover all your bases is to pull directly from Facebook’s official contest guidelines and add a line to the end of your post stating that your promotion “is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.”

Now that you know three important Facebook contest guidelines to follow, here are some ideas for contests and giveaways:

  • Ask for couples to share their wedding date in the comments, then randomly select one couple to receive a discount off a package or a free service.
  • Post a photo that relates to the couple (photo of them, their wedding, their invitations, etc.) and state that if you get a certain number comments or likes on the post, the couple will get a discount or bonus while working with you.
  • In a post about engagements, have couples comment with their engagement story or location, encouraging photos and details. Then randomly select an engagement story from the comments to win and be shared.

» Why You Should Never Buy Followers on Social Media

The desire to feel validated and popular, paired with the difficulty of earning followers organically leads a lot of businesses to want to buy followers – after all, a higher number of followers will make you look better to couples checking out your page… right? Not necessarily.

Having the ability to show off thousands of followers sounds nice in theory, but buying followers can be harmful to your brand in more ways than one. Here’s why:

Buying followers impacts your credibility

Nobody else may know that you bought followers, but if couples who check out your social profiles figure out that your followers are fake, it will significantly impact your credibility and trustworthiness – the two things you were hoping to build. You don’t want couples to start wondering things like, “If you are paying your way to internet popularity, what else might you not be totally upfront about?”

Fake followers are obvious

There are so many ways to spot fake followers. If someone sees your company’s Facebook or Instagram account one day and notices that you have a certain number of followers, then comes back the next day to see that you have ten times the amount of followers from the day before, they will know something is up.

Furthermore, fake followers never have realistic profiles. They often have a randomly generated username, similar profile pictures and bios, and rarely have more than one post published to their account. If someone notices that those are the types of accounts following you, they will know for sure your followers aren’t real.

People may think poorly of your content

Consider this scenario: a couple goes to your profile or company page and sees how “popular” you are with such a large following. When they start exploring your posts, they are probably expecting many likes, shares, and comments, but instead, they see almost no interactions with your content. Their first reaction will likely be that no one is interested in the content you share, and therefore it isn’t worth checking out.

SEO will take a hit

If your follower count is disproportionately higher than the number of people you follow and the number of posts you have published, Google may actually flag your account as fake and penalize your profile and website in search rankings. This is because having fewer posts with an abnormally large number of followers is a common indication of a fake account, and Google wants to show users quality search results. If links to your website are primarily being shared on what is flagged as a fake account, Google will interpret that as spam. In short, quality content gets prioritized when it comes to SEO and purchased followers can impact your quality score.

So how do you gain real followers organically?

  • Post examples of your work, behind the scenes snapshots, photos with couples, and go live on Facebook to showcase you and your business to couples
  • Interact with your followers
  • Be authentic and have personality so couples know you are genuine and real
  • Publish posts often, but don’t spam followers with promotional content
  • Run giveaways for couples – For example, if your photo gets 100 likes or comments, a participant could win a fun freebie related to your business

Growing your social media following organically is almost always the better practice. Instead of spending money on a following that will do nothing for your business, invest your time using the above tactics to create a following that will be far more likely to gain value from your posts and therefore more likely to engage with you and your business.