Tips + Techniques

Building a Genuine Social Media Following From the Heart

June 29, 2017

By Si Moore

Photo © Bayly & Moore

There’s an enduring idea in the post-record label music world that all you need for a successful career is a thousand real fans of your music, and that those thousand people will take it to the world and give you a sustainable audience. That’s exactly how we see our photography business, and because of that, everything we do is built around understanding who our “super-fans” are and what they love.

Twitter is built on conversations around links rather than conversations around images, so it’s not our thing. We tend to post on Instagram and Facebook daily, on weekdays only, and we’ll post at a time that overlaps our audiences in New Zealand, Australia, southern Europe, New York City and L.A., which is usually first thing in the morning or late at night—generally, 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. are our windows.

Photo © Bayly & Moore

We’ve found that fans don’t use social media metrics in the same way that photographers do; they’re solely interested in what they’re seeing at face value, how it fits into the wider story that they’ve become a fan of and the chance to interact with you, rather than measuring your posts against someone else’s. We post stuff that we love, and over the years we’ve gathered a fan base that loves the same stuff.

Letting the crowd direct your images quickly becomes a populist kind of portfolio, and before you know it, the potency of your ideas has been dumbed down to what gets engagement from a bunch of people lying in bed at night flicking through Kardashian images.

Photo © Bayly & Moore

Posting what we love keeps our feet on the ground and ensures that we’re living a life not dictated by social media. It also means we’re never “panic-posting” or feeling like we’ve got to keep up with other people. Confidence is everything when you’re creating and making, and we have a feeling of connection to our little tribe of fans that’s really strong. It comes through in their emails, their DMs across Instagram and Facebook, and their responses to our Stories.

If we shouted in the language that social media likes, we’d definitely have more of a crowd. But it’d be the kind of crowd you’d get at a Trump rally; they don’t really serve a purpose beyond engagement numbers. Our strategy of putting fans first means we have a solid line of inquiries all year from couples around the world who are genuine fans of ours, meaning that they’re dedicated to us and we’re dedicated to them.

Photo © Bayly & Moore

We work hard to keep posting the same work, to keep it looking the same, to not be plugging and promoting, to have a kind “voice” in all of our interactions, and to remember that real people and their lives are what lies at the end of the social media trail. What we do on social is just one small part of the fan-building conversation we have with people, from being genuinely nice people in-person when we’re shooting, to meeting people randomly on the street and giving them the time of day, to answering huge emails full of questions about a million things from complete strangers, to Skyping with random people who want help, to replying to messages across all of our platforms regardless of how kind or critical they are.

We keep our eyes on the prize, which is how lucky we are to do this and how just a handful of real fans who connected with our work back in the early days have taken our stuff to a much wider audience and made it possible for us to do this wonderful thing we do. We’re not rockstars; we’re wedding photographers, and we’re advocates for people in love. We keep that right at the front of every conversation both online and offline.

Si Moore is half of the married photo duo Bayly & Moore, who were named Rf 30 Rising Stars in 2014. Si is also a musician, who met his wife after she photographed his band back in 2008.

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