Gabrielle wants you to use analytics
to grow your creative business
I learned about Gabrielle Hail Photography through a Facebook recommendation. In a fairly uncharacteristic move I asked for wedding photographer recommendations on Facebook. Nate (we co-parent &SONS) and I were getting married in a few weeks and were scrambling for a photographer. A mutual friend sang Gabrielle’s high praises and, after seeing her portfolio and an insightful email exchange, we had our photographer.
This piece is not about Gabrielle’s photography. However I want to do something very unorthodox – I want you to stop reading this and go to her portfolio. Then come back, please.
Great, you’re back! And now you know why hiring Gabrielle was such an easy choice, despite only having a Facebook recommendation and a link to her portfolio. Gabrielle, on the other hand, already had an idea who I was. That’s because behind Gabrielle’s thriving business and social media presence there is a quantitative, analytics-focused strategy. This approach means Gabrielle knows her target, how to reach them and how to convert them into a customer.
A left-brained approach to her creative inclinations came naturally to Gabrielle, “I was always attracted to the arts in some capacity but could never draw or play an instrument so I thought photography could be a medium that also satiated my analytical brain.”
Gabrielle started her business organically, “I would post my work on my personal Instagram account and people would reach out regularly to book sessions or collaborate. I realized how powerful a tool social media was and through learning how to efficiently use hashtags and locations on Instagram and ads on Facebook, it helped propel me to being a full time professional photographer.”
Her hobby is now her full time, flex-time gig. And the most amazing part – she gets about 75% of her business through Facebook and Instagram. She’s thankful, for sure, that tools like Facebook and Insta are available to her, but she’s also taking full advantage of their analytics.
So here are 4 reason Gabrielle wants you to think about
how analytics can grow your creative business
1. Likes are nice, but comments are money
It’s hard to explain, but most folks get it – a like is easy but non committal, a comment requires some investment in the post. Social platforms quantify both likes and comments, but Gabrielle has found that comments is where she finds more qualified leads that she can start a dialogue with.
Gabrielle says “a successful post to me, isn’t so much about the number of likes, but the meaningful engagements like comments and shares. Also being able to engage back with those comments helps make a post successful. I want a photo to move my audience, make them feel and encourage a dialogue. If I’m able to do any of those things over social media, I consider it a success.”
We do not suggest the post and forget method. Engage with your audience and see it grow – real conversations in your comment threads allows you to show your commenters (and their followers) the creative human behind your work.
Gabrielle, take it away. “Interaction is key! I can post ads all day long but the best way to reach more people is to interact with more people. Consistent, meaningful connections with real people on Instagram or Facebook not only keep my posts relevant in the browse feed, but also lead to an increase in reach across the board.”
Timely posts create momentum. To refine our prior point – we do not suggest the post and temporarily forget method. Post and be ready to engage quickly.
2. #niche #those #hashtags
The social media world is vast – trying to conquer it’s broad continents with hashtags like #cutepuppy is a lil ambitious and you won’t get much or any traction outside of your followers.
Gabrielle had this issue when she got started, “If you’re a wedding photographer in Seattle and want to book more intimate, outdoor weddings don’t use generic, saturated hashtags like #weddingphotographer on your images.”
Instead niche hashtags that target a location or interest group will reach a larger audience. For our Seattle photographers, “hashtags like #seattleweddingphotographer #seattleelopements #pnwphotographer #pnwweddings #intimateweddings or #adventurebrides will put your images in front of potential clients who are both in your area and looking for a photographer specific to your brand.”
Gabrielle started using niche hashtags in 2017 and the subsequent success is evident at @gabriellehail. Below are two beautiful photos, but by using more niche #s her likes and comments increased 5X.
Generic hashtags like
#bride, #bridal and #nature
65 likes / 5 comments
Niche hashtags like
#neworleanswedding and #radlovestories
33 likes / 26 comments
I could keep blah-blahing about hashtags, but Gabrielle says it best. “When I organized my first styled bridal shoot a little over a year ago, it was natural for me to tag the other vendors involved so they could see the images. Of course, this led to all of their followers to also see the post and the engagement of these images went through the roof. I always make it a priority to tag my posts with not only the subject and vendors, but also feature accounts that may share the image if it aligns with their aesthetic and message. For instance, I always tag my New Orleans wedding images with #wednola and #thatlacommunity. On occasion, I’ll be featured on their Instagram accounts and thus reach a wider audience.”
3. Use the free tools, and pay for the premium tools
There are some great free tools, especially through Facebook and Instagram. Without spending a dime you can see follower trends. In Insta, for example, all you have to do it go to your profile and click the bar chart icon in the top right.
From there you’ll be able to dig into the number of impressions and reaches your posts have made, how many profile views you’re getting as well as the highly coveted website and contact info clicks.
Gabrielle also spent the dollars and signed up for a business profile. She can “keep track of (her) impressions and what days and times yield the highest results as well as my reach in terms of specific demographics like location, age and sex. With this data, (she’s) learned that posting at specific times like 11:00 am and 5:00 pm on weekdays reaches the 77% of my followers who are women between the ages of 25 and 34.”
On Facebook she also “measures (her) reach through their Insights tool. I regularly boost posts that are marketed towards my ideal client and can keep track of people reached, engagement and button clicks. Lead conversion is my biggest goal with boosted ads and I learn how to make better ads with Facebook’s insight data.”
4. Analyze to convert
There’s something called a conversion funnel, and Gabrielle gets it. Anything you do – whether it’s through social media or word of mouth, should lead to a conversion. A conversion can be a new customer or a new email address address capture. The idea is that someone you didn’t know becomes someone you know and can contact and (ideally) charge.
Flowers use conversion funnels – through evolution they developed a compelling reason for their target audience (e.g. birds, bees) to convert into pollen-carriers. Gabrielle doesn’t have or need millions of years to evolve her conversion funnel because she analyzes as she goes. She experiments with what she thinks will work, analyzes what efforts turn followers into customers and replicates those efforts.
Gabrielle’s “ultimate goal” is for her clients to “hit (her) website already invested in my work, learn more about me, view my portfolio and be ready to submit a contact form.”
We mentioned before that Gabrielle receives 75% of her business through social media efforts, which means most of her clients have been the unsuspecting bee to her flower’s conversion funnel. And in Gabrielle’s case this funnel translates into thousands of dollars for our badass boss lady.
And here’s the funnel now!
Attract the right audience with niche hashtags
Increase impressions through post boosting
Low cost relative to traditional PPC
Create conversations and credibility with comments
Give social followers an easy way to get to your website
Give web visitors a reason to contact you – and make it easy!
Free, once you have a website
There are three funnel things I want to make sure you walk away with :
- This funnel is simple it is responsible for converting 75% of Gabrielle’s clients
- Most components are free and overall it’s very cheap
- No one involved in the funnel is in pain. As someone who buzzed her way through this funnel I can say it was inspiring and exciting to become one of Gabrielle’s clients. And all Gabrielle had to do was be herself!
So here’s my final thought on why Gabrielle has been so successful in such a short time. Sure, part of it is that she’s tenacious AF, willing to look analytics in the face and learn from them. She’s also staying true to herself, which comes through in both her work and marketing efforts. And now she’s rocking a funnel that only depends on her continuing to be herself.
OK, final final thought. Subscribe to our newsletter! We have a new plugin coming out next month and we want to tell you about it, along with new posts to help your business grow.
Subscribe to the &SONS newsletter