As a professional photographer, it’s a must to have an online presence to promote your work, network and grow your business. After a website, social media is the channel of choice for photographers. Hundreds of millions of photos are uploaded every day to social networks like Instagram, Facebook and Flickr.
There are many benefits to using social media for your photography business. However, it’s important to understand and manage the risks of having your work and your photography business in the spotlight.
The Benefits of Social Media for Professional Photographers
Professional photographers that use social media effectively can accomplish a wide range of business and marketing goals. You can use social media to:
- Share your portfolio
- Show off your skills
- Identify target audiences
- Build a following
- Network with other professionals
- Advertise your business
- Reach new clients
At the same time, it’s important to think about how you want your business to interact with the public online. The right kind of content will further your business objectives while minimizing the risk of potential claims.
Here are some ways that professional photographers can maximize the benefits of social media for the business:
- Create a profile on major platforms (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, etc.) that is professional, engaging, on-brand and up to date.
- Network with appropriate organizations online, such as PPA, industry and trade groups, civic organizations and the local chamber of commerce.
- Make a profile page that includes relevant information about your business, such as website, contact email / phone, up-to-date booking instructions, etc.
- Post special offers, helpful content, important business announcements and positive news about your business.
And here are a few types of content that it is best for professional photographers to avoid on social media:
- Avoid statements about the business or business offers that could be deemed false or misleading.
- Avoid using the business’s social media channels for personal purposes.
- Avoid making statements about controversial and divisive topics that could reflect negatively on the business now or in the future.
- Avoid posting content that may violate the privacy of employees, models, vendors or clients.
- Avoid posting content that is against the terms of service for the social network.
Social Media Liability Risks for Photographers
Even by following the guidelines above, professional photographers will encounter risk by engaging with the public on social media. Even with social media use, photographers are at risk for liability claims, especially regarding:
- Model releases—Generally, a model release is only required if a photo will be used for advertising. Though you may share client’s photos on social media to showcase your abilities, it is safe practice to include a model release form in any client contract.
- Music licensing—If you compile videos or slideshows in your scope of services, you may include music in the background. However, if the song is copyrighted, social media sites may pull your content down. Lately, Facebook informs its users if the included song is allowed through the licensing deals acquired by the social network. If not, the video will be muted, unless the uploader submits a dispute.
- Advertising—Social media sites have made it easier than ever to advertise. However, be sure to consult relevant industry and legal statutes concerning online advertising and social media site requirements to make sure your social media is compliant.
While there are social media liability risks for photographers, there are also many benefits. Though there are liability risks associated with social media, taking preventative measures and purchasing the proper insurance coverage can outweigh those risks.