Did you know that 64% of couples share their engagement on social media with a few hours? To say social media has changed the wedding industry would be an understatement. Planning a wedding used to rely on the phone book, referrals from others, and wedding planners. Nowadays, it’s Google searches, Pinterest boards, and Instagram discovery. Social media has become the go-to resource brides and grooms planning their weddings.
“Couples live their lives on their phones, in apps and online in front of their tiny mobile screens. That fact is changing the way in which couples (and really all of us) approach projects, research, tasks, messaging and transactions,” says the Knot. “And while planning a wedding is far more complicated than ordering a necklace on Etsy or ordering a car to the airport, the digital landscape is shifting behaviors and the weddings industry is susceptible to all of it.”
I can personally endorse Instagram as being a truly influential space, as I’m in the process of planning my own wedding this coming August. One thing that Instagram is incredibly useful for: wedding photographers.
In this post, we will dive into how wedding photographers can use Instagram ads to grow their brand and find new clientele. But first…
The average Instagram user spends 53 minutes per day on the platform according to recode. I would guess the average bride-to-be spends even more time on the platform!
To validate my hypothesis I decided to chat with my own wedding photographer, the very talented Lindsay Murphy, a wedding and portrait photographer specializing in intimidate, playful, and emotional love stories.
“I would say that approximately 60% of my wedding inquiries come from people finding me through Instagram,” says Lindsay, “As a photographer, displaying imagery is high on my priority list, which is why Instagram is so key! It’s also been instrumental in connecting to other wedding professionals.”
Clearly, Instagram advertising is a great channel for your industry! But if you are new to Instagram or if you’re a wedding photographer looking to take your Instagram strategy to the next level, you’ve come to the right place. Here are eight super-effective ways to create beautiful and effective Instagram ads for wedding photographers.
Every wedding photographer has a unique style and brand, whether they realize it or not. For Lindsay, her brand is coastal candid shots that show of the emotional side of a couples love story. For another photographer it may be Southern charm that displays the joyful and playful side of a couple’s relationship.
Whatever your unique brand is, it is important to not only define it, but to embrace it. This means keeping every single Instagram advertisement consistent with your brand style and voice.
“I try to stay consistent—not only in the timing of my posts, but also in keeping with my brand,” says Lindsay. “I think that maintaining consistency in your feed and stories is definitely key.”
So how can you ensure your ads are consistent? Here are a few tips:
When configuring your Instagram ad campaign, you will notice that there are several objectives to choose from. Rather than choosing a random one, spend some time to reflect on what your goals are. Perhaps you are launching a new wedding photography business in a city you recently moved to. In this case, you may decide to launch a brand awareness advertising campaign. On the flip side you may be already established, but looking to grow your customer pool; in this scenario you may chose to run a conversion or lead generation campaign.
Choosing an objective wisely is key because different objectives come with different features and capabilities so make sure to be thoughtful in your choice. Keep in mind that it is ok to have several objectives, just ensure you are separating these into different ad campaigns so you can use the unique features and set a specific budget for each objective.
Location, location, location! Every wedding photographer has one. Many are willing to travel, but more then likely you prefer to stay in a specific region or territory. It is also helpful to keep with tip #1 (consistency) to have specific regions that you focus on. For Lindsay, this is New England. For you, this may be specifically downtown Seattle or more broadly the Pacific Northwest. Wherever it is, make sure you are using all of the location specific features Instagram has to offer.
This includes locations targeting within your ad campaign. For instance, in ads manager when you are tweaking your audience targeting, you’ll notice an option to set up specific locations. To get fairly specific you can enter zip codes. You can also target by city, state, or region, but ensure you are targeting a specific set of locations so your audience is not too broad.
In addition to location targeting within your ad campaign, you should also be geo-tagging your post, and using location-specific hashtags.
“I always make sure to tag my photos with my desired market in and around New England,” says Lindsay.
As you can see in her post below, she also uses several descriptive location hashtags like #newenglandwedding, #jamaicapondengagement, #portandweddingphotographer. Doing this will help newly engaged couples discover her!
Keeping on the topic of targeting, when configuring your Instagram advertising audience, you will notice there are many categories to choose from. This can be good and bad. If you get too narrow, you might be limiting your audience—but if you are not narrowing in on your target audience, your ads could show to a very irrelevant audience that is not in the market for a wedding photographer.
One really helpful and interesting thing you can do is targeting engaged couples. How? Just go to Audience > Demographics > Relationship > Relationship Status > Engaged.
Perhaps you want to get even more refined and target newly engaged couples that are even less likely to have found their wedding photographer. Under Demographics > Life Events you’ll find this option.
Lastly, you can refine your audience a bit further by targeting those interested in weddings. (As a future bride, I can tell you that the internet definitely knows this about me.) For this option, go to Interests > Family and relationships > Weddings.
With these specific audience filters configured your ads will be sure to show to your target audience rather then irrelevant single or already married people who have very little interest in hiring a wedding photographer.
My mom loves to go on rants about how weddings have become an industry, and it was not at all like this when she got married many moons ago. I now see how true this is! But this is not necessarily a bad thing, especially for those looking to promote their wedding photography businesses.
Now many people planning weddings collect stacks upon stacks of bridal magazines to read after work. Many follow The Knot, Wedding Wire, and other similar sites on Instagram to get inspiration for their own event. This is why tagging popular companies in the wedding industry can not only lead to new brides discovering you, but also potential partnerships with other vendors that could lead to a drastic increase in your customer base.
“Tagging as many fellow vendors, blogs, and/or clients in your photos is very important and helps you reach a wider audience,” says Lindsay.
Take this example from a Detroit-based wedding photographer. In every one of her Instagram posts, she tags a series of vendors like Louboutin World, Hey Bride, Brideside, or Wedding Day Magazine. It’s such an easy way to help grow your audience through the platform.
While single image ads might be the first thing to come to mind when thinking about crafting your first Instagram ad, there are so many formats to explore: videos, Stories, or carousel ads. It’s this last ad format that you’re definitely going to want to use.
While it is fun to explore and test different formats, for those in the wedding photography industry one super effective ad format is the carousel ad. Why? The carousel ad format allows you to create a magazine-like display where viewers can scroll through each image to see all you have to offer.
Take the example below from Mata Photo. Rather than just showing one shot for this special Bali wedding, the photographer was able to show off various angles, black and white vs. color, and different aspects of the celebration in a series of seven photographs rather than being limited to one single image. This is a great way to show your range and your style as a wedding photographer.
The Snapchat-like feature, Instagram Stories, has continued to grow in popularity since their release. In fact, as of January 2019 Instagram Stories are used by over 500 million users per day, according to internal Instagram data. Stories are a fun way to interact because you are not making as much of a commitment with a permanent post that lives on your feed, but rather a story only lasts for 24 hours unless you save it in your “Story Highlights.”
Basically, Stories allow you to share a quick snippet of a wedding you recently shot or perhaps even a “behind the scenes” or “Q&A” to get known the photographer behind the business. This can really help intrigue leads and make them feel they’re making a connection with you through your story content.
“I’ve learned that keeping up with stories and showing more ‘behind the scenes’ content keeps people engaged,” says Lindsay.
And now you can even pay to promote your Instagram Stories to expand their reach to your target audience!
Last, but certainly not least, wedding photographers are keenly aware that their jobs are very seasonal depending on the climate they live in. For instance, a New England photographer like Lindsay is much busier with weddings in the summer compared to frigid, snowstorm prone winters. Yet, it is important to think through the planning process. Post-engagement, when do brides and grooms-to-be start looking for their wedding photographer? This is likely different based on the region you cover, but keeping this in mind can help you create an effective way to distribute your budget based on peak research/booking season.
It is also important to consider when your audience is most likely to spend time on Instagram. Perhaps from the weekday hours of 9:00AM until 11:30AM and 1:00PM until 5:00PM, they are less likely to be on the platform, and more likely to be working. But how about lunch hour? Or evenings? Or weekends? Take a look at when your website gets the most traffic, as well as other social platforms to get a sense of when future customers are most likely to be doing their research. This will help you build an effective ad schedule to only show your ads during peak time of the day, days of the week, and times of the year.
Planning a wedding is not easy, but finding a wedding photographer doesn’t need to add to the stress. Make it easy for future brides and grooms by using these super-effective strategies to expand your reach through Instagram advertising. In no time, you’ll be creating the most important photographs for newlywed couples that they will cherish for a lifetime.
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