9 Reasons Your Studio Is FAILING at Facebook

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This opinion piece written by Doug Cohen of Frameable Faces Photography is a no-holds-barred-rant meant to motivate you to change the way you Facebook.

Much of my social media material comes from my own experiences running our campaigns.  I handle all of the social media community management, monitoring, and content creation for our studio.  I spend much (most) of my time doing this.  There is a lot of trial and error, I make my mistakes and I learn from them.  I also learn from a handful of “gurus” whom I’ve grown to trust over the last couple of years, and I also follow many studios on facebook who are clearly floundering.

I hear the frustration of many on some of the forums I’m on.  I feel the pain of those who are stuck and don’t have a good grasp of facebook.  On top of that facebook made a few changes which has many throwing in the towel.  Sure it can be frustrating, but the time has come to suck it up and I feel some tough love is in order.

Here are 9 reasons your studio is failing at Facebook.

  1. You are over-posting because your content sucks, it isn’t reaching anyone since facebook changed their algorithms, and this is the only (really lazy) way you can come up with to overcompensate.  That may sound harsh but a lot of this is about effort.  Listen, you know when you are just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.  Don’t do that.  Put some thought into what you are putting out there for your peeps.  Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself whether you would find this interesting – look at what other brands are doing so you can get some inspiration.  Posting a ton of memes is probably not the answer – does that really represent your studio?  Does it really represent YOU?  If you flood the news feeds of your followers they will hide you and you likely won’t get them back.  That’s called a backfire…
  2. You are still whining about how your numbers have gone down since the algorithms changed.  Kind of number 1b regarding the facebook changes.  Stop it.  Really.  Believe me when I tell you that good content still gets nice reach and engagement.  That hasn’t changed even with the new algorithm.  You just need to earn it now by being more creative, putting in more effort, and maybe even spending a couple dollars to promote a post here or there – more on that later.
  3.  You are posting images of your clients without their permission and (at least in the 43 states that require it at last check) a signed model release.  I’m amazed at how many photographers blow off getting proper permission and then end up with upset (former) clients.  I know of some who are still doing it and getting in trouble as we speak, or their clients just get upset but don’t tell the photog and go out to sprinkle a little bad word of mouth to their friends.
  4. You aren’t social.  Yes this is social media.  You have to take the social part to heart.  Be sure to like other pages that you have a connection with – find pages that are local to your community, pages belonging to your clients who have supported you, pages in your industry that you can learn from or partner with, pages which provide content that is relevant for your audience.  Like, comment, and share the stuff that you like and BE GENUINE about it.  If you don’t like it, don’t like it.
  5. You are putting links about yourself in the comments you post on your clients’ statuses and finding other ways to ram your brand down their throats.  Don’t hijack other pages whether they belong to brands or people for self promotion.  I see people I know whose photographers have commented on a picture on their personal page to the effect of “This is so cute of your son!  By the way please like my page at XYZ Photography”.  Yuck. This tends to make you look pretty bad.  If you want to participate and be seen that’s great – but do it without an agenda.  They’ll already know it’s you especially if you are commenting as your studio.
  6. You aren’t promoting properly.  I’m still tinkering with this formula myself so there isn’t a perfect answer that works for everyone.  In the meantime here is a great article by Jay Baer with a nice 4 step checklist to determine when you should pay to promote a post.  Spending $5 – $15 once in a while to promote a worthwhile post to make sure people see it may not be the worst decision.  Personally I have done this three times.
  7. All your eggs are pretty much still in the facebook basket.  Focus on your website and/or your (self-hosted) BLOG.  You own those.  Tweet if it makes sense for you, maybe try Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn etc.  You don’t need to be everywhere but you can’t be in only one place.  You just can’t.  Being in only one place makes you a sitting duck when that place changes things up on you like facebook recently did.  Here are some tips on the other platforms from another guest post I wrote for MCP Actions in September 2012.  Keep in mind having all your eggs in the facebook basket may not directly explain why you’re failing ON facebook, although the fact that you did is likely why you’ve been panicking since the changes and abandoning your strategy which is probably leading to failure.
  8. You are mixing your personal page with your business page too much.  This is another mistake many photogs are making at this very moment as a way to try to game the system.  In other words “well my reach went way down on my studio page so I’ll just post all my sneak peaks and specials (barf) on my personal page”.  Don’t do it!  People who like your page like it because they like your brand.  People who want to be your friend just want to be your friend.  They don’t suddenly want you selling to them.  Would you do that to your friends offline?  Then don’t do it online.  Your message will start to get lost.  I’m not saying you should never ever mention your studio on your personal page, but don’t overdo it.  P.S. – the reason I barfed after the word “specials” is because I think sales and specials for a photography studio devalue your work.  Just my opinion…
  9. Your content is all about you.  This ties back into the first item on this list when I said your content sucks.  If your content is all about you, then yes your content sucks.  ”WE do this and that and such and such for our clients”, “WE can do this kind of session, WE can even do that kind of session!”, “Hurry in to take your holiday photos – our time slots are filling up fast”,  ”WE just got a whole bunch of orders in!”, “A FREE this or a HALF OFF that for the first three who comment”, “Check out our SALE!”, “Make sure you like and share our posts or facebook won’t put us in your news feed” – that one might be the worst of all of them.  What better way to put the focus on your clients than to make them jump through hoops to serve you – right?  Wrong.  Sorry to break it to you but these examples collectively represent boring garbage.  Do people really go to facebook to seek out commercials and be sold to?  If this is all, the majority of, half of, or in my opinion even a quarter of what you are sharing then you are BORING.    Okay so if that’s boring then what is interesting?  I think that’s going to be my next post….  Stay tuned.

Doug profile pic 125x125px 9 Reasons Your Studio Is FAILING at FacebookDoug Cohen is a co-owner of Frameable Faces Photography with his wife Ally in the Orchard Mall in West Bloomfield, MI.  Ally is the photographer and Doug handles the sales and marketing  You can also find Doug personally on twitter in addition to the studio at dougcohen10.  He writes for their blog and sings in a rock band called the Detroit Stimulus Package.

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 9 Reasons Your Studio Is FAILING at Facebook

MCP Guest Writer

This post was written by a MCP Guest Blogger. If you would like to contribute to the MCP Actions Blog, check out our Guest Writers Wanted page.

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21 Comments and 23 Replies



  1. 1
    Jennifer says:

    Hallelujah! #7- yes yes yes. And #9! And #2! Ok. So maybe this all makes since… but those are my favorites.

  2. 2
    Beth W says:

    Seriously, who doesn’t get a release signed? This BLOWS my mind!!!

    Since I do a lot of newborn photography I am super sensitive to what I post on my facebook page. I ALWAYS ask my newborn clients if they would like me to post a sneak peek on my FB page. Granted, they sign a release so I can do it anyways but I would NEVER want to upset a client.

    • Doug Cohen says:

      Exactly Beth. I had someone challenge me that my point (which I did look up on the PPA website) about the requirement in 43 states is actually incorrect and that the commercial use in the requirement I cited applies to endorsement advertising and not portfolio use. My response to that is if I misinterpreted this than I guess technically I’m wrong – I want to make that clear in case I provided info that is incorrect especially when it comes to copyright protection and/or commercial use etc. I’m actually not so sure I’m wrong but I’m the first one to point out that I’m not an expert in this arena. Either way it does NOT change my point. Try explaining to an angry parent of a high school girl or a 10 year old child that if they don’t like the fact that you posted their kid’s picture on the Internet that it’s too bad and you are well within your rights. I guess you’ll be right alright…. right out of business eventually. To your point, it’s best to have the conversation ahead of time with the client, to ask for their permission and to have them sign a release giving consent for you to post the images.

  3. 3
    Rosaileen says:

    Thank you! Great article!

  4. 4
    Stacey says:

    Thank you……I hope more folks read this article. I was starting to think something was wrong with me…I don’t have that much to say, I don’t constantly post, I don’t update fans about my personal life, my page is all about my work, that’s it. I wish more people could leave it at that. Thanks Doug!!

  5. 5

    Loved this since I’m new to running a facebook page. Looking forward to that next post!

  6. 6
    Julie says:

    Awesome article!! It helps to hear what my business is doing right….and wrong! You have valid points and I’m taking them to heart! Although I’m not running a photography business, it doesn’t hurt to hear some of the critiques and avoid them on my furniture refinishing page. Thanks again for great advice! ~Julie

  7. 7
    Amy Dungan says:

    Great post! Gives me a lot to think about. Thank you!

  8. 8
    Brandie says:

    Great post! My content sucks and now I’m really looking forward to your next offering!

    • Doug Cohen says:

      LOL Brandie – it’s all good – recognizing that you need to do better means you’re already on the right path as we speak and following MCP Actions is a good step. Lots of good and varied content here. Plenty of Photoshop stuff but also frequent social media articles and lots of good topics. There is no doubt in my mind that if you stay the course and keep at it the content does start to flow and you’ll get into a groove. It just takes a little time. Meanwhile I guess I’ll need to get working on the follow up…. :-)

  9. 9

    I really enjoyed this, even though it stung a little because I’m sure I do a lot of these things! I really enjoyed #9. Great post, funny and good content.

    • Doug Cohen says:

      Thanks Tavia! Funny thing about #9 is so many people are guilty of this one and I believe it’s because people have been used to seeing these tactics in traditional advertising forever and they just think that posting sales and promotional type content is just kind of what they’re supposed to do… The logical assumption is to set up shop, get a facebook page because they need one and start promoting away… It takes a little time to really build an organic (vs. inflated) following and get into a groove where you start to find your studio’s voice and what you bring to the table for your followers.

  10. 10
    Dariusz says:

    Doug, thank you, great post. With a few simple words you have explained a lot. Something what is suppose to be mandatory for smart people. Like many things in our life smart things are for smart people even internet. Sometimes people lost job because of internet, some lost friends… it is only a tool. If you know how to use it you are a winner :)

    • Doug Cohen says:

      Thanks Dariusz – I agree with you. I don’t think Facebook will cause you problems if you know what you are doing and conduct yourself appropriately, and it can definitely help your business. I think this is pretty much the case for all the social media sites.

  11. 11
    Dana says:

    Brilliant article. I especially loved the last tip. Thanks for sharing.

  12. 12

    Great post! Although the model release requirement is for commercial use rather than portfolio (as you stated in the comments section) I always get that release when we sign the contract. Simple. I am so tired of other photog friends mixing up their businesses on the personal FB pages. Thanks!

    • Doug Cohen says:

      Thanks Patricia! I still have some of my own questions about the model release requirement but I’m not sure I want to go down that rathole in this thread for starters because to your point and as I mentioned you should just get the release. Not getting it and having an angry client as a result is a mistake that can be easily avoided. :-)

  13. 13

    Great post! Well said.

  14. 14
    Nicole says:

    Thank you for this! I am by no means a professional photographer, but I do love to practice my passion, and I read a lot of photographers’ pages on Facebook. Personally, what bugs me the most, and I see it a lot, is the constant reminders of how good his/her images are. If you’re that good at your job, your proof should be in your images, not in how much YOU post about how great your images are. That’s my amateur opinion.

  15. 15
    Doug Cohen says:

    Thanks Nicole! Very solid and astute “amateur” opinion Nicole if you ask me… ;-)

  16. 16
    Brittany says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’m not guilty of too many of these but it is so helpful to be reminded of what to do and not to do from a real pro. I’ll be tweeking things on my page asap!

  17. 17

    This was by far the BEST damn article I have ever read!! No sugar coating, AWESOME job Doug!!!

  18. 18
    hayley says:

    Great article, thank you for sharing! It does suprise me too about #3, I can’t imagine not doing that! Do you have an opinon about posting photos? I see many photographers who put everything on thier main wall, while others split them up into client albums. I wonder sometimes is one is more effective than the other?
    Thank you again for the read…very well done!

    • Doug Cohen says:

      Thanks Hayley! As for posting photos referring specifically to facebook we’ve always used categories to make it easier for potential clients to browse for ideas and examples of our work – newborns, families etc. I’m not sure we’ve ever taken to the idea of specific client albums because we’ve never done online proofing and we shy away from posting more than 4 peeks or setting an expectation that it’s really their “album”. However our overall strategy has shifted to putting more of an emphasis on the blog and using facebook to drive our peeps to the blog. We usually post one photo on facebook now as a tease (with the client tagged) with a link to a fun blog post about the session with 4 images or so in the post. This is keeping with my point #7 about putting focus on your website and your blog (preferably self-hosted) since you own those. Keep in mind that’s NOT to say that facebook isn’t still really really important for us, I just don’t want to have all of our eggs in one basket and set myself up as a sitting duck if something radical happens with facebook. Does that help?

      • hayley says:

        Yes absolutely! Thank you for taking the time to respond. I put 1 photo on facebook as a teaser then after they order I always post more for them and create thier own album. I am finally getting back to using my blog more which last year I failed miserably at. Do you think if you are using your website and your blog that you can still over do how much you put on facebook? That’s kinda where I get torn…

        • I guess I would want to know when you say you post more for them after they order what are you posting? Just the images that they’ve actually ordered (I hope)? How many? We don’t typically go back and post more after they’ve ordered. I do think you can overdo it on facebook, only because I think it’s more powerful to show the very best from the session. People outside of the client and maybe their families and very closest friends may not take the time to look through 20 images from one session even if that client did purchase all of them. Personally I’d rather wow them with the 4 best….

          • Okay that was weird – this is me (Doug) – not sure why it just registered as “Guest Writer” for that reply but it was me. :-)

          • Doug Cohen says:

            Hmmm… these replies are out of order but I was logged in as MCP Guest Writer and didn’t realize it… now I’m logged out and can post as me (Doug) again. Struggs. haha

          • hayley says:

            Yes, I post 1 sneak peek image after the session then after they place their order i post more images from the ordered shots. HOpefully that makes more sense :) Thanks for your replies and conversation on this topic.

          • Doug Cohen says:

            If posting the ordered images has been working for you then I won’t tell you differently… for us I just prefer to stick to 4 or so of the best from the session. Otherwise clients may have the expectation coming in that you’re going to put their whole session or most of the images on facebook and they may not pay attention or realize when you’ve posted them, or if they were ordered images that were posted… just my opinion. Plus the best of the best has a better wow factor for showing off our work I think. :-)

  19. 19

    Lots of good advice here Doug. I’m still fairly new to the whole Facebook thing and some days I feel like it’s all a bit overwhelming. It’s funny that I have come to pretty much the same conclusion on most of your points. In particular, I’ve stopped re-posting to my personal page in the last week for exactly the reasons you mentioned in number eight. I also agree with you on “specials” and “sales”. What is your opinion about holding competitions? Yay or nay?

    Thanks for a very interesting and informative read.

  20. 20
    Doug Cohen says:

    Thanks William! Social Media can be overwhelming – no doubt about that so if you feel that way it’s totally normal. I still have plenty of moments like that even though I’m a “veteran” lol. As for competitions, if you mean “cutest baby” or things of that nature my feelings are a little mixed. They’re not for us at this stage in our business, but I don’t think they are a bad idea for building your portfolio if you are still in the early stages. My wife Ally did a couple of those several years ago before facebook was popular – she posted voting and results on her blog and had some fun with it. It got a few people engaged. This was before I joined her in the business and before we had our studio. We haven’t done anything like this in a long time – maybe there are people out there doing them with more success, I’m just not too plugged into how studios might be using them as a strategy these days.

  21. 21
    Gail Haile says:

    Great article! Really looking forward to what works.



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