1. Get Mapped.
Google Places was recently released. It is a free service provided by Google which lets you pinpoint the location of your business onto Google Maps. You can also add your business hours, services offered, preference of payment etc. Up to 10 photographs of your studio can be uploaded to give potential clients a better idea of what kind of shooting environment you provide. Type in “Flat Art Studios Cape Town” to see our listing and studio pics.
Foursquare is a similar service but is more interactive. You have to sign up using a personal account but can then add your business as a page (as well as link it to your Facebook page and Twitter account if you already have these – which you should!) This is a space where people can “check in” to places that they are at in real-time and also provide recommendations and tips for others who might go there. Gowalla is a very similar site. Foursquare is pretty new to South Africa but it’s still a good idea to get your domain name registered in the meantime.
2. Paste Up Your Pics
Most people have heard of Flickr but you don’t want your photographs sharing cyber space with your best friend’s neighbour’s cute new slobbery puppy – bow and all. For us it is better to use the more professional platform of 500px. Here you can create portfolios of your work and interact with a like minded and broad-based community of professional and amateur photographers. Look out for Flat Art’s portfolio coming soon!
3. Stay In The Know
Now that you have you, your studio and of course your photographs up on the net it’s important to remember that the crux of social media is reciprocity. What you put in is what you get out (and maybe more!) Interaction is key, ask questions, join forums and provide advice and experience. Quora is a question based forum where you can follow topics and groups that you are interested in. It is a great place to find the answers to all your photography related questions. Unfortunately (as I rudely found out) you can’t sign up under a business name as the site will simply kick you off so register under a personal account to enjoy the benefits.
4. Manage Your Online Reputation
As beneficial and enabling as the internet may be, it also has the potential to be highly detrimental to you and your company’s image. Use programs such as Social Mention and Klout to monitor what others are saying about you. Google Analytics is a great behind the scenes tool which documents and measures traffic to your website and shows you which key phrases people are using to search for you.
It can be overwhelming, the ever increasing number of social media platforms out there, so to keep yourself sanely grounded while your image flies through the web, choose only what is best for you. Remember that one man’s Twitter may be another man’s twit and Facebook just another’s Vleisboek to get beef on others. Choose the professional bases which work for you to keep you firmly in control of your own pioneering cyber spaceship.