Beat the Algorithm


by Darty Hines

One of the hardest things for social media is to figure out what we can post on social media to get the most reach. Recently, Facebook made major changes to the algorithm which makes it harder and harder for small businesses to reach their target market using their Facebook (business) Page and/or Instagram.  How do we get the reach we used to get some years ago without paying for sponsored ads on social media?

We can start by posting content on social media that will be something that our followers will want to share.  This starts by discovering where your expertise lies and how we can use that expertise to our advantage on the social platforms. When we can figure out what we are an expert at and what makes us different from the other businesses in our area, we can use those differences to market to our clients. When we figure out what makes us unique, will we have the content we need to post on Facebook and Instagram?

A successful business should have a library of unique content to put on social media. This content can be made from photos, videos, stories, and even text. But what do we post? What will provide engagement and what will get shares? To answer those questions, we need to complete the three unique content circles.

Knowledge – The first circle of unique content is knowledge. This is your education, your skills, the things you know. Proper lighting and posing are two examples of your knowledge within the photography industry. In the circle of knowledge, we should list things that your clients cannot reproduce with their iPhones and/or consumer cameras (see image 1).

Image 1

Passion – The second circle in finding out unique content is passion. This word is very overused…. so let’s take a look at it a little deeper.

There are many types of photography in this world. From senior photos to newborns to weddings to commercial work. The questions you have to ask yourself are: What kind of photography makes you tick? What do you get fired up about? When you get out of bed and are excited about your sessions on the schedule, what is driving that excitement? On the flip side, is there is something you hate doing? Is there a type of photography that drains your happiness?  Why are you doing it? The Passion circle should only include the things that make you truly excited to be a photographer. When you create photography that makes you happy, that is the start of your passion. Many creatives say “photography is my passion” but that’s a generic way of thinking. Dive deeper into the type of photography that drives you to be a better photographer. For example, maybe your passion is high school senior portraits with a sports theme. List specific type of photo sessions that inspire you in your passion circle (see image 2).

Image 2

Tilt – The third circle is what makes us unique. Tilt benefits the client but it’s really about the competition. The tilt is the things you offer that no one else provides in your area. These are the things that separates you from your competition.  The tilt is what makes your business unique from all others.

Activity: To discover your tilt, make a list of everything your studio or business offers. Your list should be very long. The list should include everything you can think of in the customers process when they interact with your business. Walk around your studio and list everything from beginning to the end of the clients’ journey. Once your list is done, circle the items that are unique to your business. You are searching for items where you can use the word ONLY next to the word or words. When you can say; you can ONLY get this at our studio, that is something that makes your business unique. This is your tilt. These unique items are some of the most important things you can use as content on social media (see image 3).

Image 3

Expertise – Where these three circles intersect, this is where your expertise lies. When you own a business you are now an expert in your field. Consumers are coming to you because you know more than they when it comes to the products and services you provide.  Customers come to you because you are the expert. They trust you (see image 4).

Image 4

The contents of your circles, your expertise, and the list of the things that make you unique are what you can use to create an engaging post on social media. We hear that a lot; ‘engaging post’. What does it mean? Engagement does not have to be confusing, it is pretty simple.

Engagement is simply a conversation.

Engagement happens (A) when people interact to your social media post, (B) when followers comment on a post, and (C) when people want to share your post with someone they know. People share a post on social media because they feel the content will benefit a friend. When followers start to have conversations with other friends under your post, this will push your content at the top of the newsfeed. When engagement happens organically (without paying to boost the post or without you asking for comments) facebook and Instagram will push that content into the newsfeed at a higher rate. The more people that interact with your post the more it will get seen in the newsfeed. This is how the algorithm works.

To apply the circles of content to a real-world situation, let’s look at an example of how we can use our expertise on social media to drive engagement.

Through the years as a professional photographer, you have figured out what works and what does not work when it comes to a family portrait session. Perhaps your post could look like this:

Our Top 4 tips to survive your family photo session.
1. Arrive a few minutes early.
2. Do not schedule your session during your child’s nap time.
3. Plan your clothing to complement each member of the family.
4. The time of the day will determine the location of your photoshoot.
Learn more about family photos with our free Family Portrait Survival Guide which you can download from our website. (send them to your website for this guide)

Three things happen with a post like this. (1) You will find people will WANT to share this post to help a friend they know who may be considering a family photo session. (2) People will want to comment on their good experience with you or their bad experience at another studio. (3) By providing the client with a free Family Portrait Survival Guide, you are using this guide as a lead generator for your business. When they leave social media and head to your website to download the guide, be sure to
get some basic contact info so you can follow up with them at a later time. The downloadable content is called a lead generator.

In addition to the 4 tips you have provided on family photo sessions, take those same tips and use your content circles to break the tips down even further. For example, a follow up post may look like this:

Do family photos stress you out? We are the only studio in town with a coffee bar. Arrive a few minutes early for your photo session and relax with a complimentary cup of coffee.

Insert a few incredible photos of your studio’s coffee bar and you not only have an engaging post for social media, but you also have a featured blog post about your studio. Partner with a local coffee company and cross-promote with them to reach even more potential clients.

As professional photographers, we have a wealth of information that we, as the experts, can share with our clients to help make their photo days stress free and a unique experience. When customers believe in your advice and have an incredible experience in your studio, they will want to share your content with others. You want your followers to become a walking billboard for your company. Let them do the marketing for you.  They will want to share your content on social media when it showcases your uniqueness and your expertise. Be the expert and post unique content and see how easy it is to beat the algorithm.

Darty Hines (PPA Craftsman) is constantly striving to find new and innovative ways for small business owners to succeed.His ‘street smart’ marketing and social media knowledge continues to help photographers and small business owners across the country. His straightforward no-nonsense approach to teaching will help you stand out in an overcrowded market and will empower you to be a uniquely better photographer, marketer and business person. Learn more about Darty at