Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Facebook Privacy Notice You've Seen is a Hoax

Have you seen the "privacy notices" posted on the Facebook pages of some photographers over the past week or so? Guess what? It's a hoax.

You've most likely seen people posting something like this . . .

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, graphics, comics, paintings, photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention.) For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times! 

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute). 

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.

This new notice started spreading after Facebook posted its new privacy guidelines. In them, Facebook announced it would let users comment on proposed changes, but not vote on said revisions to their policy documents. A similar set of postings took place this past summer when FB revised privacy guidelines.

The "purpose" behind posting such a notice on one's page is that the privacy of its users will be affected because Facebook is now a publicly traded entity. This is not true.

Here's the bottom line: Back when you signed up for a Facebook user account, you agreed to their "Terms of Service".  Posting a "disclaimer" on your Facebook page(s) does nothing to change or alter that. You and Facebook are still responsible for abiding by the same terms and conditions that you accepted at that time.

Or think of it from this perspective:

As photographers, we expect our clients to follow copyright laws already in place. Even so, we place logos on our images and inform them of copyright rules in advance. Your client cannot write something on the back of a print you're created that negates the copyright logo you've placed on the front!

- David Grupa

Need some additional reading on this subject? Look here:






Monday, November 26, 2012

What are You Doing With Customer Email Addresses?

You get email addresses from your clients, right? It's time to start USING them.

Facebook marketing has become spotty at best. To put it bluntly, it simply sucks. They've tweaked things so much that half the people who like your page never see the things you post on it.

I went back to what worked for me before; direct mail and email.

Up until this month, I was using another email service for my marketing emails, but realized they were one of the more expensive ones out there and I wasn't really getting a good value. I switched to a company called MailChimp which offers some pretty cool options, even on their free plan.

MailChimpIn addition to their paid plans, they have a free plan. Up to 2000 names and 12,000 emails per month. After reviewing the options, I have decided to cut the cord with my old service when my paid subscription runs out at the end of the month. Currently, I'm in the process of migrating over to MailChimp. It's easy to use . . I've already done a couple of things with it. I also like the way their lists and groups are set up, which makes it easy to email a smaller subset of a larger group.

Why use a direct email service like MailChimp?

I like to use it just to "keep in touch" with people. If I don't keep my name in front of the faces of my clients, they don't have any reason to think about me. If they're not thinking about me, I run the risk of them being distracted by another photographer or their friend with a camera and a Facebook page who "wants to be professional".

Not everything I send out is direct advertising. Like a blog post, some of it is purely informational, like a newsletter. You can include seasonal items, recipes, tips for taking photographs at certain types of events, etc.

If you do mini-sessions, this is a great place to let clients know about them. I run a gift card sale on Black Friday, so this is how people get notified.

After an event such as a Bridal Fair, I will drop a couple of emails to those names/email addresses I collected inviting them into the studio or letting them know of a "special offer to show attendees."

You can create a signup form to put on your website or Facebook page so people can "opt-in" to receive it. They can also "opt-out" if they no longer wish to hear from you.

And . . . you have to be consistent, but not overbearing. Once a month with a newsletter . . . maybe once more a month to select groups with a targeted offer. Don't turn it into something where the reader just wants to delete you because you're in their mailbox every day like some companies' ads that just won't go away.

If you've not set anything up yet for email marketing and management of email addresses, give them a try. Click the Monkey above, or go to www.MailChimp.com

- David Grupa

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fun Facts and Thanksgiving Thoughts

Is Thanksgiving Day Just the Day Before Black Friday?

We have all been taught that the first Thanksgiving Day celebration occurred in 1621, when the Pilgrims sat down to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. It was their first here in the New World, and it was said to have been attended by 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans and lasted three days!

While the 1621 events were probably not of a religious nature, the colonists of that day were accustomed to regularly celebrating "thanksgivings"— days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as a bountiful harvest, the end of a drought and other occurrences.

Years later, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed November 26, 1863 to be a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens". Since that time it has become the official beginning of the "holiday season" in the US.

Yet, the focus seems to have fallen from Thanksgiving Day and being thankful for what we have, to Black Friday. Getting up in the middle of the night or camping out days in advance has become as much a part of the weekend as the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. It has been said that "Only in America will people trample each other for sales, exactly one day after being thankful for they already have."

(I know, the post right before this one is a Black Friday special as well . . . I still have to make a living, ya know!) ;-)

So . . . let me offer a few options for giving thanks and being grateful:
  • Consider volunteering. So many of us have talents for which we should be thankful; let's spread that wealth around and teach our kids that it's not always "all about me."
  • Share things where you have extras. There are lots of places looking for warm clothing this time of year. The Minnesota Twins and Justin Morneau sponsor a coat drive in the Twin Cities; I'm sure there's something in your area as well.
  • Donate items to a holiday toy drive. I always approached this as another opportunity to teach my kids about the importance of sharing and being thankful for what they do have instead of what they don't. They were responsible for setting aside a percentage of their allowance for a charitable purpose. We'd go shopping and choose items that would make great gifts for kids their age. (As a bonus, it clued me in to the things that they wanted for themselves; it made my Christmas shopping easier.)
Michael Symon, Cleveland restauranteur, chef and co-host of "The Chew" said about Thanksgiving Day "My restaurants are never opened on Thanksgiving; I want my staff to spend time with their family if they can. My feeling is, if I can't figure out how to make money the rest of the year so that my workers can enjoy the holidays, then I don't deserve to be an owner."

Before you gorge yourself with everything delicious this Thanksgiving Day afternoon look around your table and give thanks for the people with you, the food in front of you and the memories of those who are no longer with you. Don't forget to say a prayer of thanks for the blessings afforded you over the past 12 months.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

- David

(featured image: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Teach Your Clients to Refer You, and Reward Them for Doing it!

We all use some sort of referral program in our business to get new clients. However, are you educating your client on how the referral program works, or are you just stuffing a certificate in their bag with the hopes they'll actually read it? It's a shame to have invested your time, effort and money into printing beautiful referral cards if they're not even getting noticed.

It's a bit like the grocery store receipt. There are coupons on the back, but unless you actually look at them, you probably can't name more than 1 advertiser. Why not? You know what you bought, so why look at the junk in the bottom of the bag? It's probably just advertising . . .

In order for our clients to be good referral sources, we first need to ask them for the referrals and let them know the WIFM factor (What's in it For Me?)

"Mary, when you show your portraits to your friends, they're going to ask you where you had them created. Now, I know you always tell people that I'm your photographer and I hope you know I appreciate your referrals, but I want to do something more than that for you. So . . . for every person you refer to me (and uses this referral card) they're going to get $50 in print credits when they reserve a session with me! AND . . . for each one of these that comes back to my studio, I'll reward you with a $50 studio gift card as well!

When you get home, please take a minute and think of 1 or 2 of your friends who might be in the market for beautiful portraits of their family . . . and then pass these cards along to them. It's a win-win-win for all of us!"

I'm simply using the print credit as an example, but you can substitute whatever offer works best in your own studio or scenario.

You're thinking "But I could never actually ask people for more business . . . I think it makes me sound desperate!"

First, asking for business doesn't sound desperate in a situation such as this. You're simply reminding them to let their friends know that you'd like to be their photographer as well, and dangling a little carrot as incentive.

However, if you're not comfortable with actually saying the words out loud, you can always drop the certificate in the mail a couple of days after they pick up their completed. It gives you one more opportunity to thank the client, and your thank-you note can ask / explain the referral program.

It doesn't matter how you do it . . . just THAT you remember to ask! 

- David

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

No Matter Who You Choose, Just Vote.

The day to cast your vote is finally here.

We've endured the constant focus of politics on television, radio and in our mailboxes. Some of it has been upbeat, encouraging people to vote their side for the good things that will happen. Others target a particular candidate or issue for you to vote against. Rather than say "Vote for X" they tell you to "Vote against Z". (In my house, we've gotten to the point where we turn down the sound when commercials come on. We've made up our own silly versions versions of ads which are far more entertaining than the real thing . . . )

All this mudslinging isn't new. There was an interesting spot on this past week's "60 Minutes" featuring a history / political science professor discussing campaigns of the past all the way back to Thomas Jefferson / John Adams era and how dirty they became. Suffice it to say that what we're hearing today is rather mild compared to the rhetoric of their days.

VoteEither way, I hate it. I want to go back to being friends with my Facebook friends who've been spewing "their side" for the past months. I want the misinformation that we see on TV to just be done.
So . . . after months and months of campaigns, the day has come where we have to "put our money where our mouth is." The facts aren't difficult to find, but they're not in television commercials and campaign flyers. If you haven't done so already, do a little homework before you go to the polls. It will be worth your investment of time.

Most of all, please make sure and get out and cast your ballot. I was floored a few years ago to hear that a friend who had very political leanings in their area was not even registered to vote, even though they had lived in that town for over 15 years!! You can register at the polls in most places and it only takes a few minutes.

You DO make a difference.

Let your voice be heard.

Just vote.