Facebook Etiquette for Photographers

by Guest Contributor Elizabeth Halford

“Hi I’m Elizabeth! I want to use your hard earned fan-base to easily grown my own. Please ‘like me’ back!” If you’re a photographer, blogger or vendor for photographers, do you want people leaving advertisements like these on your Facebook page? Even worse, are you a photographer or vendor guilty of this rudeness? Stop! Think! And read the rest of this post.

Facebook was quickly picked up as a totally genius way to grow your business, reach out to your clients and build a fabulous fanbase. Once you have these fans, you can do a few things with them: you can build a community around yourself & your brand, you can gain bookings if you’re a photographer or if you’re a vendor, you can sell your products. If you follow the rules, you can also run fabulous competitions and get your name out there by giving what you’ve got. With all the rich diversity that Facebook offers folks like us, there is also a niche for giving tutorials and information to photographers about how to maximize these opportunities. Unfortunately, it seems that some people are learning to squat on others’ Facebook pages and utilize their hard-earned fan bases to advertise their own products and services. It often looks something like this:

I’ve noticed a large spike in these squatters recently and these are the trends that seem pretty consistent with them:

  • I have no clue who they are
  • They’ve never included themselves in conversations going on in my discussions tab or on my blog. I.e.: they’re not friends of Elizabeth Halford Photography & they don’t intend to be
  • They ask me to ‘like’ them
  • I never hear from them again
  • They have a very small number of ‘likes’
  • With the exception of a few vendors who should know better, they are almost exclusively amateur photographers just starting out

At the risk of looking like a total jerk, I have to say that I really don’t think these people know better. Some are vendors who want to tell my fans to come look at their sale (a surefire way to get banned from my page) but most are beginners who just want people to look at, and comment on, their work. In our hear of hearts, even the most advanced of us still just want to know that people like us, so how can I blame them? But there are rules to follow if you don’t want to look desperate and get your post removed.

{How not to do it}

Do not post a link to your page on someone’s wall without first emailing them and asking. Just because you can do it in 2 seconds flat doesn’t mean you should. Practice common courtesy.

Do not post your products or sales to someone’s page. Same rules as above.

Do not advertise your services on the page of a fellow local photographer. I can’t believe that I even have to say this, but it happens.

{How to do it}

Facebook now allows you to login and engage as your page. Which means that I can go to Pretty Presets and leave this much more appropriate message:

While logged-in as your page, you can comment on photos and statuses from other pages your page likes {you have to ‘like’ it while logged in as your page, not just ‘like’ it personally while logged in as your personal profile}. This is where you go to log in as your page:

 

If you’re posting for the first time on someone’s wall, leave a meaningful message, not just a “like me back” message. Tell them your favorite shot of theirs or how their work makes you feel. Don’t just try to sweep through and grab a few more likes. It looks slimy and cold and doesn’t do much for your relationship with that page in the future.

Another way you can be seen on someone’s wall is to include a mention in your own status. If you want to mention another photographer or vendor in your status, use the @ symbol before beginning to type their name and it will drop down for you to select like this:

The mention will appear on you wall and on theirs and is considered the safest way to pop up on someone else’s wall without looking cheap.

If you’re a vendor and you want to establish a relationship with a photographer you admire, do it the old fashioned way: offer them a complementary item. Ask only that, if they like it, they use it and send you a shot once you have. If you’re nice, that photographer will give you a shout-out on their page or blog for your kindness and you will gain far more likes than if you just squatted on their page.

{How I did it}

I have steadily gotten around 1,000 new fans per month for the last few months. I have never once posted my link on some stranger’s wall and asked for new fans. In addition to the points above, I have also:

  • Spent a lot of time writing guest posts like this one
  • Written tutorials on my own blog and posted them in forums, answered questions on Yahoo Questions, etc.
  • Gotten involved in communities like Rock the Shot. Posted my Facebook link in my post signature and gotten involved in threads where everyone is liking eachother’s pages.
  • Offered stuff for free. The information I post on my blog, many others charge for. I give something for free and, in return, I’ve gained a good, solid fanbase who I love and they love me back.
  • I give products away in giveaways from other photogs and vendors who have a good solid fanbase of their own.
  • Used the actions, presets and templates from fabulous vendors. Some vendors allow photogs to post B&A images directly to their page and some ask that you email them first. There are also Flickr groups from these vendors where users can post their B&As. This doesn’t directly lead to FB likes, but I often follow someone’s Flickr to their FB and ‘like’ them.

If you’re a photographer who has squatters posting inappropriately on your wall, don’t feel bad for removing those posts. You can even ban repeat offenders. The way I think about it is this: I charge for ad space on my blog. Why should ads on my Facebook wall be free?

Facebook is a very new establishment in our post modern social structure and these are things we have to discover and work out on our own to find out what’s rude and what isn’t. What works and what doesn’t. But no matter how you decide to move forward, always remember the golden rule and treat others as you would like to be treated.

So please for goodness sake after all this hard work…go like me on Facebook!

 

About the Author: Elizabeth Halford is a professional photographer and blogger. She gives real photography advice in real.plain.english. Visit her on Facebook and join a community of photographers just like you!

 

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Laura - September 16, 2011 - 8:44 am

I already do freebies on my blog and Facebook. I am also in the process of writing a few tutorials for others and am hosting a giveaway next week. Solid stuff in this article.

Kristen - September 16, 2011 - 8:45 am

I never do this! I mean, yeah, some people have 3000 likes.. but are they 3000 genuine likes? I want people to like my page and photography because they actually like it!

DonnaKay Johnson - September 16, 2011 - 8:47 am

Loved this blog!! Every word is so true, and I now feel less-guilty about the squatters that I have deleted from my page.

Jill - September 16, 2011 - 8:53 am

Great article. Although I am one of those photographers with a small number of followers… I cringe when I have seen posts like that.

Have had that “issue” with twitter though…. random products and services liking me (not necessarily photography related), so I’d like them back. As I am really new to twitter, have no idea how to deal with that one.

Kama Carranza - September 16, 2011 - 8:56 am

Another reason I love Elizabeth Halford! She says it like it is!!

Brittney Loosli - September 16, 2011 - 8:59 am

Thank you for sharing! It drives me crazy!!! I’ve had to ban a local photog from my page because they kept doing this! Its so frustrating! But I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way! Oh and fans be sure to like my page @ www. (Haha jk) :)

Vicki - September 16, 2011 - 9:04 am

I joined a photography group on another networking site and they started a “Like my facebook page” post. I participated in it briefly but felt really odd posting my link on other photographer’s walls. It was like you said, most had barely 100 likes. Mind you, mine only has 600 but I’ve worked hard to get those. I post often, talk to my fans and post tips and tutorials. There are some people that just don’t know how to conduct themselves on facebook.

Christina - September 16, 2011 - 9:29 am

I’m a relatively new to the business side of photography. And I agree with this so much. I don’t want fans, Just because either. I want the people who “like” me to really like my work. I have over 900 fans right now, I’ve worked pretty hard to get them the right way. I’ll continue to do so, It will pay off in the long run.

April Merrick - September 16, 2011 - 9:49 am

I agree whole heartedly! I am one of those newbie amateur photographers with a small following. I would rather someone like me for the work I have done, not because I posted something on someone else’s wall.

Lynn Likens - September 16, 2011 - 9:55 am

I’ve been a photographer for a long time, but I’m just starting out with trying to turn it into a business. Although I would love to have more likes on my page, I definitely felt it was rude to randomly tag myself on peoples pages so I’ve avoided it. Just curious though, what is your take on photographers who comment on blog posts and include a link to view their work on their flicker/blog/website? For example a photographer blogs about bokeh and then someone else comments about how they like to use bokeh and include a link to an image they took that demonstrates their use of it.

Lynn Likens - September 16, 2011 - 9:58 am

Sorry, I hit post by accident. That is something else I’ve been seeing people do and wasn’t sure what other people thought of it.

Photography by Elle.g - September 16, 2011 - 10:05 am

I couldn’t agree with this more. I follow many people and I never ask them to follow me back I think its tacky. I just ventured into the actual business side and I have been working hard on marketing my business hosting giveaways and contest. However, the likes to my fan page have been slow to say the least. I barely have 50 fans but it’s okay. I am taking my time with this because 1) I want to do it right 2) I want do not want to devalue from others who have been in the business for years and 3) I’d really like it to wok. I want to make sure I cross my “t” and dot my “i”.

Thanks for the great article.

Jodi Gerber - September 16, 2011 - 10:05 am

Great article. I have to admit I’ve been guilty of this a few times when I was trying to figure out facebook (it’s definitely a world unto its own). I quickly figured the error of doing this and now contact blog owners directly to tell them of any sales/promotions/giveaways I am doing and ask the blog owner to post to her facebook page if she/he would like to. There are some who do; some who don’t. I’m always grateful and appreciate to the ones who do! :)

Amanda - September 16, 2011 - 10:17 am

So very true! Thank you for taking the time to write down the professional courtesies that everyone should be thinking of and following. Though I laughed when a friend had a “Shameless Self Promotion Day” allowing just such squatting for one day. As long as it wasn’t obscene or offensive of course. Amazing the number of people who squatted.
Thanks Elizabeth! And beautiful work.

Beth - September 16, 2011 - 10:27 am

I couldn’t agree with you more. I always make it a point to ask before I publish or advertise on someone’s wall on Facebook, by sending them a private message or by asking on their wall. This was an awesome topic and a good way to put a gentle nudge out there for those who abuse the use of Facebook. Thanks Elizabeth

Chris (Katie Whitcomb | Photographers) - September 16, 2011 - 10:38 am

I’m sorry but unless your trying to sell/info other photographers on something, I don’t really want them to “like” my page. I only want clients and their friends and family to like my page. I want my non photographer friends to like my page. I’m selling posting images so other photographers go “oh and ah” I do it to get business from clients. So we have about 680 likes but 99% of them are actual real people who have or will spend money on my products.

I think that’s the one thing I have hated about the new photographers, they seem more concerned with creating a community atmosphere with other photographers than a thriving business.

Jen - September 16, 2011 - 10:55 am

VERY informative and I’m so glad I have my OWN fans and don’t feel the need to “steal” them for my own personal gain or to compete and “have highest number of fans”! I’d rather have a relationship with 20 fans/clients than have thousands of fans that I might never meet or ever have an opportunity to photograph. I love what I do and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Bari Baskin - September 16, 2011 - 11:27 am

An excellent and well written post! Thank you for this. It is spot on!

missy kettler - September 16, 2011 - 11:31 am

I love this! I never quite understood it too much either…my goal is for local clients to fan me. Not the entire universe. I have 250 fans and for being on FB for 8 months, I’m happy with that. They are real fans, not stolen or created to boost my ego. I’d take that over thousands that really will just block my posts anyway!

nikki - September 16, 2011 - 11:56 am

This is a great article. Thank you. I have just started out with a new page on facebook and while I haven’t made any of these mistakes, it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have in the future. Thank you again for the advice!

Connie - September 16, 2011 - 12:03 pm

I love this, as an amateur Photographer trying to go semi-pro soon, I have always felt weird about people leaving the “please like my page” post. I see them all the time on my favorite photographers pages.

Cindy Meisch - September 16, 2011 - 5:15 pm

I agree that I would prefer someone found my page and liked it because they liked my work. I agree with this whole post! Giving quality work no matter what you do is the best way to build fans and customers. I believe it is not who has the most likes but who has the best work!

kellytonks - September 16, 2011 - 5:38 pm

real.plain.english.
served.up.right.

:-) Kelly Tonks

Stephanie - September 16, 2011 - 6:44 pm

I’m so glad I found this blog! I have seen squatters and cringed as well. I agree with so many of the posts here. Yes, it would be amazing to have 3000 + “likes”, but are these people who truly like my work or just numbers? I want to engage with people, not numbers. Great post!!

Linda Jackman - September 16, 2011 - 8:32 pm

Bravo!! I have had so many do this to me and I delete them, but if not near a computer who knows how long it is there. Not that I have a large following but it is still irritating. Elizabeth, I do enjoy your mad writing skills!

Michelle Kirnan - September 16, 2011 - 9:55 pm

Love, love, love Elizabeth! She always has awesome advice and tutorials, and this is no exception! I’m not on FB to win a popularity contest. I want people to like my page because of my service – potential clients. It’s of course wonderful to have peers like my page, but they’re not my target audience. Etiquette…a word so rarely used in today’s society. Thank you, Elizabeth!

Judy - September 18, 2011 - 2:27 pm

I have “Liked” a good many FB pages to lend support, only to later find that their message really isn’t to my liking. I don’t want to read about whatever it is they are saying. The “X” button beside each post allows me to just remove that post if I think it might be a fluke, but there is also an option that allows me to keep their posts off my newsfeed. This is revocable [for instance with the overly-enthusiastic new dad who didn’t understand the difference between setting up an album and posting 175 pictures of his one year old’s birthday party INDIVIDUALLY!!] if you just need to clear someone from your wall temporarily.

I love your suggestions for doing it the right way – smart!

Helen Rushton - September 18, 2011 - 2:29 pm

Thanks Elizabeth, really great information not just on what not to do but what can work too – much appreciated!

Lea Hartman - September 18, 2011 - 3:40 pm

Thank you, Elizabeth. I’m so glad someone finally but this out there! Kudos!

jeni - September 18, 2011 - 4:36 pm

I follow your blog religiously and certainly follow you on facebook Elizabeth… thank you for pointing out (what I thought was obvious) to others about the wonderful business world of facebook! applicable for all, not just us photogs.

Nick - September 28, 2011 - 1:43 pm

Strong Work… Appreciated!

Stephanie - October 2, 2011 - 9:11 am

Thank you so much for this wonderful article…as a vendor I get so tired of other/new shops “squatting” on my fan page. We’ve all worked very hard to establish our fan base and nothing makes me more upset than seeing a new vendor try to advertise their business on my page selling the same products as my shop. The only thing it gets them is DELETE & BAN!! What ever happened to professional courtesy?

Sarah - October 3, 2011 - 8:10 am

Thanks for that Elizabeth. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one that thinks it’s plain rude (and desperate) to bomb someone else’s pages. Thanks.

Lisa - October 3, 2011 - 5:43 pm

Thanks for the tips Elizabeth. I have read some of your articles on Digital Photography School also and they are always informative.

I have been doing unpaid live music photography for a while and will often post a link to the album relating to that band/show on the wall of the band so they can have a look at the photos if they are interested. Would you consider this squatting also?

Kasey Loftin - October 4, 2011 - 3:44 pm

Thanks for the post! I joined a thread that encouraged everyone to “like” each other. I got a ton of squatters and got so fed up that I posted a message on the thread about it in the nicest way possible. People actually got mad at me and disputed my argument that leaving messages like that were inappropriate. But I chalk it up to the fact they aren’t professional photographers and if they were, they would ACT professional. Glad to know I’m not the only one who feels this way!

Laura - October 4, 2011 - 4:10 pm

Thanks Elizabeth, this was very helpful!

Sara - October 4, 2011 - 4:48 pm

Hey Elizabeth! Thanks so much for posting this. I have a hard time with the ‘Like me and I’ll like you back’ issue with other photographers, myself.

First, I will only Like photographers’ pages if I LOVE their work and respect them as a photographer.

Second, I do NOT want other photographers as fans on my fan page b/c they are not my target market and I don’t want to waste my time marketing to those who aren’t going to hire me. I don’t care if other photographers like me, I care if my clients like me.

I don’t publicly share my business name (I use my married name on FB and strangers can’t see my business name/website) b/c I don’t want to encourage other photographers to Like me.

Thanks for posting….!!!

sbowler - October 12, 2011 - 3:46 pm

Oh im so happy you did this article! ive had so many instances where this has happend, and one person in particular would just not stop facebook creeping my page and others pages trying to get in on the action. it got so frustrating that i had to pretty much block them from both my page and personal page. again thank you! I HOPE this person sees this and realises how rude their being! *sigh*!!

long time fan!
Stef-

Caterina Lay - December 23, 2011 - 2:49 am

Great advice as usual + insightful hints. Thanks again!

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