Social Media Interview with Small-Business Owner, Amy Spirito

Since she graduated from the Hallmark Institute of Photography in 2012, I have witnessed my long-term girlfriend Amy Spirito launch her own wedding photography business. Amy is known as a talented New England and Destination Wedding Photographer, but her hidden-talent is her keen business prowess. And while building Amy Spirito Photography and developing her brand, I have seen Amy use social media to achieve her goals. I decided to sit down and interview Amy for our blog, because I have learned a lot from seeing Amy at work and thought that members of our class & other readers would benefit similarly:

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Q: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Amy. How would you describe Amy Spirito Photography’s social media strategy overall? 

My presence on social media helps to keep future clients engaged with me and excited about my work. It’s quite often that I will arrive at an engagement session after only having one initial meeting with my client. And I find that when the client has been following my recent work on Facebook and on Instagram, they will have become even more excited to be working with me. They are more comfortable and more confident in me, which makes it easier for me to do my job.

 

Q: Can you tell us more about what your strategy is for each of the platforms your business is on?

Sure. I definitely prioritize Facebook and Instagram. They are very visual social media platforms, and it is easy for me to share a photo that I feel will attract potential clients and excite current ones. My goal through my Facebook page is to post images as often as possible, without overwhelming someone’s newsfeed. I do my best to post a few highlights from every shoot that I have to show that I am consistently creating work that varies, with different clients.

I use Instagram to show off a lot of my sneak peeks, and have found that hashtags on Instagram are very useful. I tailor my hashtags to every image that I post, but some of the popular ones I use are #BostonWeddingPhotographer and #BostonEngagementSession. If I do a wedding on the Cape for example, I’ll include the hashtag #CapeCodWedding. I also like to hashtag or tag the event venues that I work with. And if there is a major distinguishing feature of an image, I will try to hashtag that too—such as #AutumnEngagement or #DestinationWeddingPhotography.

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Pinterest is another great platform for photographers, because it is very visual as well. I don’t think that I have meet with a single bride that hasn’t already created multiple Pinterest boards for planning her wedding. If you go to my Pinterest page, you’ll find a Details board, a Little Moments board, and an Engagement Photography board. The bridal portraits and pictures of the couple that I tend to post on Facebook and Instagram are great for those platforms, but I find that less personal photos are often repinned more. When it comes to planning and putting together the style of décor you’d like for your wedding, the detail shots are what really count.

Finally, there is my website. It is my most important online touch-point with clients, and a vital social media platform because it is directly connected to blog. My blog has been a great tool for me. It allows me attach keywords to the work that I am most proud of for search-engine optimization, as social media posts generally aren’t picked up as well. For example, in September of 2014 I photographed a wedding at the Omni Parker House in downtown Boston. I made sure to include the name of the venue and the location, as well as the word “wedding,” in the title of my blog post so it would appear if someone searched “Omni Parker House Wedding.” And, just that happened. Someone was able to find me through a simple Google search because I had used several keywords that pertained to their venue. I blog almost every wedding that I photograph, but I especially highlight the venues that don’t have a big online presence yet. I always research the venues that I’ll be working with, and try to see if other photographers have blogged about weddings there before, so that I know how much of an online presence this venue already has.

Q: Are there any platforms you use that are specific to your industry?

Yes, two of them. The Knot is my secondary online store-front, after my website. When someone enters an engagement, they will often sign up on The Knot to start planning their wedding. Different kinds of vendors have profiles—bakeries, dress designers, wedding planners, videographers, photographers… Even the venues have online storefronts. Everything is very streamlined—you go straight from my gallery, to my bio, to my information, and to all of the reviews. It’s a really friendly interface.

SnapKnot is very similar to The Knot, but it is only for wedding photographers. SnapKnot takes the same model as a matchmaking website and helps match couples with photographers. If a couple wants the photographers to come to them, then they set the number of claims they would like, their wedding location, the style of photography they’re looking for, and their budget, and photographers that are interested and still available for their wedding date will initiate contact. And if the couple wants to do the search themselves, they of course have that option as well and can search by location, photography style, and budget.

 

Q: Do you have any signature social media tactics that you have found to be popular?

I do have a hashtag that I regularly use: #SneakPeekSunday. I use this on Sundays when I publish previews of recent work. I will post previews immediately after engagement sessions and weddings as well, but I have found that quite a few of my followers look out for my posts on Sundays. Consistently, my hashtag is something that I will receive comments on.

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Q: Could you perhaps share a specific example for folks of how social media has made a direct impact on your business?

Of course. I have found brides—well, really, brides have been finding me—through both Instagram and Facebook. I have already had one bride book me for her wedding next year through Instagram, and tomorrow I actually have an engagement session on the North Shore with a couple that found me through my Facebook page.

 

Q: One final question, since you have such a great visual-eye: Do you have advice for social media managers when it comes to selecting images to use on social media?

If you are going to post single images, my advice would to be to stick with images that are in color. Unless a black & white image is really, really compelling, people are going to tend to scroll over it. If you use something with color that pops, it will definitely catch a viewer’s eye faster.

11 comments

  1. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, John! I love hearing specific individual’s experience with social media, especially small-business owners. I appreciate that Amy uses only the social media platforms that make sense for her business. She doesn’t force herself to work on Twitter, for example, when the character limit doesn’t lend itself well to images. I think more managers could benefit from that mindset because companies often waste time on platforms that don’t fit with their business model or target customer. As we have discussed in class, managers need to recognize the benefits of each social media platform, and then carefully select the one that is right for them.

  2. Hello John, thanks for sharing your girlfriends’ business practice on social media! It seems that Amy has a great insight on how to take advantage of social media to engage her current and prospective customers and expand her wedding photography business. It’s really clever to use her own blog attached with keywords for search engine optimization as a complement for other social media’s posts. And it totally makes sense to highlight those venues without an online presence yet in order to always pop up once someone searches these places.
    Amy’s always done a great job combining a variety of social media into her business since it mainly targets the young and tech-savvy generation getting ready for marriage. Here’s my further question regarding this issue: Does Amy plan to integrate mobile push marketing into her business in the near future? Or maybe she’s already doing that. If so, when and where? If not, why?
    Thanks again for this good post!

    1. Thank you for your comment! To answer your question– no, I do not plan on integrating mobile push marketing any time in the near future. For my brand, this approach is a little too impersonal. I’ve read many articles posted on wedding planning websites such as TheKnot.com that have stated that generally, brides tend to choose the wedding photographer that they best connect with, and this approach wouldn’t be the best use of a touchpoint with my potential clients. And with recurring clients, I’ve generally developed a relationship with a couple after their wedding where any communication is done directly.

  3. John, great post. It was great to see the insight Amy had from running her own business. She does a great job recognizing the specific social media networks that are useful for her business (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest) and using those pipelines to showcase her work. She also does a great job of using hashtags that are general enough for people to search for them, but are specific enough so that people will recognize her shoots. I think an important piece of information she mentioned was creating a constant stream of content that does not annoy the viewers. While it is crucial for companies to constantly put out their latest products, information overload could detract from account traffic. Amy also does a great job using platforms that are specifically designed for her type of work. These platforms will have features that are more useful and specific than a general Instagram or Facebook account. Thank you for sharing this interview with us! Amy had lots of great insight and knowledge about social media.

  4. John, sounds like Amy really has her hands full managing these social media sites, all while shooting weddings and engagements – I am very impressed! Her business appears to be doing very well and I am curious, does she have any help managing her digital sites? As @huntermcguirk mentioned, what stood out for me while reading your interview is how she was able to speak specifically to how each platform helps serve a larger purpose/strategy. It’s also amazing how simple hashtags can drive inbound marketing and business. I have not read much on the strategy of hashtag use but I imagine there is an art and science to it. Great interview.

    1. Thank you for commenting! I don’t have any help managing my digital sites, though it is helpful to be dating an MBA Marketer! Managing Amy Spirito Photography is my full time job, so I’m able to make my social media presence a high priority on a week-to-week basis.

  5. Nice interview, John. I have some friends who have come through the Hallmark School, and I recall them telling me about how one of their classes was a sort of basic business class, but threw in some web design, social media use, and other tech stuff as well. Did Amy take that class? Was it helpful to her in starting/running her business?

    Since most photographers end up running their own small business, it seems natural that they’d have to do some learning about the business side and not just learn how to take great pictures. I can’t think of any other industry where independent operators dominate quite that much.

    1. Thanks for commenting! The Hallmark Institute of Photography requires that you take every course that they offer (yes, every course) so that you graduate fully prepared to enter any field of photography. In one of the courses, Business Planning, each student is required to submit a full Business Plan complete with goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and marketing and financial plans as well. In other Marketing and Management courses, subjects such as Self Promotion, Marketing Analysis, Brand Management, and Sales Promotion are also covered. Gotta keep those independent operators well-trained!

  6. Love it! Original interviews are always fabulous.

  7. Great interview! It’s evident that a strong social media presence can propel small businesses to a new level. My sister got married this past summer, and Pinterest/Instagram were (overwhelmingly) utilized for ideas etc.

  8. Impressive initiative, John! I always love hearing about SM management in action after so much academic and theoretical work during class. I really like the #SneakPeekSunday idea, it is consistent and dependable — subliminally representing Amy’s work — and it connects a sense of anticipation to those posts, always a positive feeling when trying to attract potential clients. Very engaging post with such wonderful images :)

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