During Photo East Expo, I had the good fortune to listen to Ken Kaminesky talk about his work as a travel photographer. What interested me most was his approach to social media marketing and how he uses it to further his work. Here are a few things I heard.
While photographers used to only sell photographs, they now have to sell themselves as authorities—voices to be reckoned with. The bigger your influence, the more opportunities you get. And in this connected world, your influence reaches far beyond people you know or who might see your work in magazine—the whole world is (potentially) watching and listening to what you have to say. So go ahead: start that blog already, post on Facebook and Google +, and tweet those 140 characters. Social media marketing expands your audience.
The important thing is to not just sell you fares or yourself, but to also have real conversations. Social media marketing is about sharing stories, inspiration and advice. Reach out to people and—provided that your images and words are compelling—they will follow you. Once you’ve established a following, don’t be surprised if clients come knocking on your door: many companies seek successful bloggers to promote their products or services. You come with a built-in audience; what advertiser wouldn’t want that?
Having a good presence in social media will also help with your travel plans. You can contact local boards of tourism or chambers of commerce, share your data with them and see if they can subsidize your travel or, at the very least, open doors for you. Maybe they can arrange a private visit to a museum during off-hours so you have the whole place to yourself? Or grant you access to off-limit spots? The important thing here is that you need to have done your homework and know what to ask for.
Lastly, social media marketing is about connecting with people. All these quick little virtual interactions help forge relationships, which in turn can become real-life friendships. Announce your next destination on your networks and reach out to people you know who live there. Instead of showing up in an unknown city, you now have friends waiting for you there. And nothing beats hanging out with a local to find truly off-the-beaten-path cool spots! It will be enough to make you forget all the long hours you’ve logged in front of your computer, I promise.
Travel Photos by Ken Kaminesky. All images used with permission.