In episode #97 of the Oh Shoot! Podcast, Cassidy Lynne chats with social media manager, Mila Holmes, about how to organically grow any social media account from the ground up. This episode covers topics like captions, hashtags, and strategies to grow an account on TikTok and Instagram.
Listen to the full podcast on Spotify!
Mila is a social media manager who works with small businesses to help them gain exposure through different social platforms. She likes to make content on TikTok educating people on entrepreneurship, running a business, freelancing, diversifying income, and making the best use of social media platforms.
How Mila Got Started Doing Social Media Management
It all started in 2018 when Mila graduated high school. She somehow bought a trip to Australia and Europe to celebrate turning 18, but had no money to actually support the trip. She was trying to find a job that would allow her to travel and make money here and there. That’s when she came across virtual assisting. A wedding photographer friend needed help managing her bookings, scheduling, using Honeybook, and a tiny bit of social media management. She started doing that in the summer of 2018 and loved it! She loved how flexible it was and how she was still able to travel and work whenever she could or when she had WiFi.
This photographer told her friends about Mila through a Facebook grew and her business grew from there. She did a mix of virtual assisting services and social media management for a long time until she outgrew it due to the work load. During her work she felt drawn to the social media management side of her business. She loved how much psychology is involved and how creative you can be. She likes to view social media as more of creating content that will appeal to the masses rather than worrying about the algorithm. You have to really figure out what people think and what they like. She loved all of that and started focusing solely on managing social media.
Advice for Starting Social Media From Ground Zero
For someone who is starting their business from the ground up, this is what Mila recommends for starting a brand new account for that business. Her strategies revolve more around the self than actual social media.
#1 Develop a Foundation of Consistency
Before you start trying out social strategies, first figure out a schedule and stick to it for a couple weeks. Try out a posting schedule for 3-4 weeks and make sure you can stick to it.
#2 Reflect on What You Want Your Social Media to Be
Starting your social media is almost like crafting a new service if you’re a service provider or an additional product if you’re a product based business. What is the purpose of the social media platform you’re using? Set your foundation for social media by:
- Crafting a mission statement and/or a vision statement.
- Writing down your core values.
- What you’re willing to do on social media.
- What you’re not willing to do on social media.
This will build a backbone for your social media. Most people start and have no idea what they’re doing and try a bunch of different things that is confusing to their audience. Do the self reflection and lay the foundation.
#3 Start with the content you already have.
Go through the content you already have and see what fits. Try to share without overthinking and hope for the best. Keep the consistency of showing up 3 to 4 times a week and sustain that.
Once you have that down, you can start diving into the actual strategies of what kind of content you’re creating, how you’re creating it, when you’re posting it, and what you’re doing to differentiate it. Try different things and see what you like and what you’re willing to put your energy into.
Instagram: What would you tell someone about the algorithm or the idea of beating the algorithm?
#1 Get rid of that mindset completely.
There are multiple algorithms running social media. You have to humble yourself a little and remember the platform does not owe you a thing. The fact that you have access to a platform like that with that kind of exposure is an amazing thing, so focus on that instead of thinking the algorithm is out to get you.
#2 If something isn’t working it’s usually because there’s a disconnect between the creator and the audience.
It’s usually super simple and people can’t see their content objectively. This is one of the benefits of bringing on a social media manager who can tell you this isn’t working for you and why, but you can’t see it yourself because you’re too emotionally attached to it.
#3 Be willing to try new things.
You have to be willing to try new things and see what does work. If the algorithm doesn’t like something, after a couple weeks you stop doing it and try something new. If it’s something you’re truly passionate about and has a lot of driving force behind it and you don’t care, then keep doing it. There has to be a balance.
The whole mindset around “the algorithm is out to get me” or blaming the algorithm is just counterproductive.
Mila’s Approach to Instagram Feed Posts & Stories
Every single account is different. For wedding photographers, feed posts work really well if you have an already engaged audience. If you don’t and share a feed post, no one is going to care. They’re not going to be shown. If you have an engaged audience, the easiest way to build that up is going to be through DMs and responding to comments and stories.
If you notice feed engagement is super low, get on your stories, start posting stories throughout your day. Show the behind the scenes of what you’re doing, why, share your thoughts, let someone in to your life. Start replying to every comment you get.
Engage with Your Audience
People are wanting to engage with the people they consume content from. Same with your stories. Once you have good engagement on stories or even through reels, get back to feed posts. Treat it like a portfolio. Don’t put up images just for the sake of it.
If you don’t have time to respond to comments or DMs, hire someone to do so. You can hire a community manager who will strictly take care of that. I think people really underestimate the power of social media and hiring someone to answer a few messages, but it makes such a difference. It’s your marketing.
Instagram Feed for Photographers
#1 Remember not everyone is going to find you on social media.
It’s ok to prioritize how your feed looks. When you have people checking out your Instagram who found you on Google, Pinterest, Wedding Wire, etc., you do need to be concerned of how your feed looks at first glance to people who are new to you. Treat it like a portfolio.
#2 Don’t Lose Sight of Why You Have Instagram in the First Place.
Cassidy explains that as a photographer, you have Instagram to book clients and show off your work. As a photographer, you are literally selling photos. It does make a difference when you have a feed that looks like a photographer’s versus a messy feed with random reel covers and such. Even if people find your profile from reels, they may not hire you because they have no idea what your work looks like or it doesn’t showcase what you really do.
#3 View Your Feed From a Client’s Perspective.
This is where Mila’s foundation comes back in. If you define what’s important to you, that will help define what you put on your feed. Put yourself in your client’s shoes and think of the client experience from start to finish.
Think about the couple who wants to book you and go through the experience of finding your account through different ways.
- What is the experience of looking through your content?
- Is it messy?
- Do they like the content they’re seeing?
- Is is a good representation of your current work?
- Are your captions worth reading?
How a social media manager can help with this:
As entrepreneurs, you only have so much time and energy. You will not believe the weight lifted from you if you define what’s important to you, what content you have available to share, and what you’re willing to make. Define those three things and bring someone to help you do it. You cannot imagine how much lighter you’ll feel, knowing that it’s going to be taken care of.
Mila’s Thoughts on Instagram Captions & Hashtags
If you’re doing social media yourself, you only have so much energy. Prioritize what’s important. If your images and getting engagement is most important then probably don’t worry about captions.
If you have the extra time or are working with a social media manager and want to give them direction, use captions to help Instagram index your stuff. Add keywords in there and make sure it’s super targeted to the people that might be interested in whatever it is you might be showing.
Photographers dread captions. Instead of trying to write, just talk. Do an audio message and just transcribe and correct little errors. Using that feels more in tune with the voice of the photographer and more natural than if you write something out.
Captions can be a great opportunity for self-reflection. Like why you really liked working with that couple, why you’re grateful you worked with them, and what you loved about it.
You can also come up with a strategy for how you share an event. Like two days after you deliver sneak previews you have a certain template you follow with a certain caption. Two weeks after that you have another template that you follow for every single wedding. It might relieve the pressure of having to come up with a new post every time.
Instagram Hashtags: Where are we putting them?
Put them in the caption. I don’t think there’s a right amount of hashtags just try different things. You want to have a good mix of niche hashtags and widely used ones.
Instagram shows related hashtags to people. Keep in mind people are very rarely typing in a hashtag into the search bar. Often they’re interacting with photos that have a hashtag attached to it. Instagram keeps showing them more posts like it.
TikTok Strategies for Someone Starting Out
#1 Lay the same foundation as earlier.
#2 Before you start creating content, analyze TikTok videos.
Go to your For You page and spend a few days scrolling. Pay attention to how different the content is there compared to other social platforms. Analyze the videos you watch very closely. Videos follow a formula on TikTok and you can pretty much sift out immediately why something did well. Go through and analyze the different videos you’re watching. Do you think it did well because of the sound, the format, because of what the person said. How can you transfer that over to your content?
#3 Start Making Stuff
Most wedding photographers should stray away from overly curated content on TikTok. Keep that on Instagram. Remembering the whole thing of you’re almost like crafting a new service. What is the service you’re delivering through TikTok? Is it education for brides? Sharing your experience as a wedding photographer? Is it auditing your work? What is it you’re doing and build off of that.
#4 The Law of Perception
In the the book, “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing,” the most important law is the law of perception. People will perceive you to be a certain thing if you just show them behind the scenes of that. So if you’re going through and talking as an expert, even if you’re not showing your work, you’re going to be perceived as an expert. Maybe the perception you’re working on Instagram is different than the perception you’re working on Tiktok and matching those two together. Make sure people are perceiving the right thing and go off of that.
#4 No Rules to Posting on TikTok
Do whatever feels right. It’s less demanding than Instagram. It should be fine to take a break and just do it as often as you want to. The content it shows people is not based on who they follow, so it’s easy to get stuff out there and have it do well. With trends they basically give you formats to follow them and then you follow them and get rewarded for it.
Using TikTok to Sell
Mila suggests being very careful with not being very salesy on TikTok. People can tell when you’re making something with the intention of selling it to them, so just being as selfless as possible.
#1 Have a Place to Redirect Your Traffic
Mila recommends redirecting warm leads on TikTok over to Instagram. Instagram is where you can continue to nurture and then turn those warm leads into sales. Depending on what industry you’re in, it could be as easy as a pdf you sell, collecting emails for a future launch, or promoting something you’re constantly selling on Instagram. Giving people a place to land like your Instagram and then having a clear message as to how people can work with your or buy from you is the best.
#2 Nurture Leads on Instagram
As a wedding photographer or someone who is selling a high ticket item or an item with an emotional commitment, there needs to be an emotional warm up. You get them onto your Instagram and really nurture your audience. This is why stories are important, community engagement, posting frequently, and showing up on people’s feeds authentically so they can connect with you is important.
What does Mila’s day to day look like as a Social Media Manager
It’s different every day. Usually her day revolves around meetings, and syncing up on strategy. Sometimes it’s conducting market research, and consumer research to figure out what people like about a product or service it is they’re marketing. Also, coming up with campaigns for clients happens day to day.
Creating Campaigns for Clients
For Mila, instead of just coming up with content they’re going to post indefinitely, they figure out what they’re going to post for the next 6-8 weeks. They stick to that for 6-8 weeks and see what works and what didn’t work. Then they adjust for the next campaign. So creating campaigns and then executing them happens daily for different clients.
She’s in these little parts of the business at any given point every single day. It’s a lot of research. A lot of writing. A lot of ideation. Project Management and mapping out how are things going to get done. We have this content for the next 6 weeks. What of that do we already have? What needs to be edited? What needs to be produced? How is that going to be produced? Does that client produce it do we? Then managing a team to get that done.
Tips to Get Started in Social Media Management
It’s depends on if you’re wiling to invest time or money. If you’re willing to invest time, Mila recommends going online and researching what you can find about social media management. Just observe. What are people doing? What are they saying about it? What does it seem to include and write as many notes as possible. Figure out your next steps based on what you learned. Next steps are most likely going to be forming your LLC. Getting a social media platform for yourself. Building out your services and then start marketing them.
If you’re willing to invest money, and not so much time, start working with a coach. Someone to get you started. There are a few courses that are intros to social media management, so you could start there.
Get a good feel for exactly the services you’re offering and what needs to happen to make those succeed and take it from there. Keep in mind that social media managers don’t have to be strategists. What Mila does involves a lot of strategy and involves a lot of pre-ideation. You can start being a social media manager just as execution. Some people just want people to simply post for them, not literally tell them what to post, but just to post. You can start small and then build up once you have some clients.
Mila, thank you for coming on the podcast and leaving us with so much good knowledge!
You can follow Mila here:
Get Picsello 3 Months Free: https://www.picsello.com/friends-of-picsello/cassidy-lynne
$20 off your first month of Nuuly using OHSHOOT20: https://bit.ly/3s36kdr
Get 50% off Honeybook here: http://share.honeybook.com/cassidylynne
Want more free education? Check out my website for photography freebies, presets, & courses!
Are you a part of our photography Facebook community group? Go to http://facebook.com/groups/cassidylynne/ and join the discussions of thousands of other photographers.