Social Media Spotlight: How Conor McCabe Photography impresses clients in real time

Three Business Customer
On: 21 Jul 2016
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In this second blog of our series “All Businesses are Media Businesses”, we talk to Conor McCabe – an entrepreneurial photographer who finds social media is the perfect place not only to showcase his work, but also to make a World Record attempt.

The potential World Record is for the fastest posting of an image to social media by an official photographer, and Conor has almost certainly set the benchmark. For a one-person business, that kind of differentiator can do the job of a whole sales team in gaining attention and winning new business.

“I was photographing an awards ceremony and took a shot of one of the winners on stage being presented with their trophy. They walked back to their table and put the trophy down to take a photo of it. As they took their phone out to take the picture, they saw they had a Twitter notification that there was a new Tweet from the event – which was my official photo of the award being presented. Fifty-three seconds from presentation to posting!”

Conor, of Conor McCabe Photography, Dublin, specialises in shooting events such as trade shows, product launches and conferences, for corporate and PR clients. He has coined his own name for this kind of high-speed reportage: “Real-Time Social Media Photography,” and he’s carved his own niche in the Irish market with it.

Although speed is of the essence for both his work and his use of social media, Conor is well aware of the importance of taking a measured approach when required.

“I made use of social media from day one of starting my own business,” he remembers, “but I made sure I had my website up and running first because after looking at, for example, my Facebook page, I knew it would be my website that people would want to look at next.”

As a one-person business without the luxury of a sales team for maintaining or making new client contacts, Conor makes good use of LinkedIn.

The LinkedIn site and the updates it sends help to keep him informed of who amongst his clients and contacts is moving jobs, and where to, and who is replacing them.

“Relationships are very important in this business, so when someone new comes in they will often bring their `own’ photographer with them. But I’ll make a point of checking out the new appointee online, then send them an email when they start telling them what projects I worked on with their predecessor. And all my emails are signed off with my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter links so it’s easy for them to find out more or follow me.”

The broad spread of social media where Conor’s work pops up means he is difficult for potential clients to avoid – in a good way. In fact, even though he’s far from the only Conor McCabe in Ireland, a Google search for his name delivers his website firmly at the top of the list.

“It’s not a paid-for listing; my website isn’t even search engine optimised,” says Conor. “It’s down to the fact that I’m pretty much a workaholic. I post heavily on social media, though I make sure that I focus on the job in hand and use my posts to support my clients first. That’s why most of my tweets are retweets from clients’ feeds about their event that I’m working on at the time. But it still helps my business because it shows that I’m active every day and shows the sort of photography I do.”

Whereas in the past a photographer like Conor could expect 90% of the photos he took not to be seen until a company’s Annual Report was published, now the vast majority are available online and often – especially in Conor’s case – almost immediately. As Conor points out, “some clients really embrace the possibility of images being posted quickly online, and are delighted when they see the event they are attending is already trending on Twitter.”

Conor adopted the technology he uses for his Real Time Social Media Photography from the world of sports photography. The digital image is transferred from camera to iPad via a wireless ad hoc network (WANET) using a WiFi device attached to the camera. Then using a Three SIM card in his iPad, he can then email the image straight to the client for validation and use it anywhere it’s required.

Conor shows that you can use social media not only to get your business name out there but also to let people actually sample your wares; not an option of course for say bakers or dressmakers, but social media certainly is important for any small business.

“Don’t ignore it” is his basic piece of advice. “It’s a hugely important way to get your message out there. But also keep focused. Some people’s Twitter feeds are just a stream of thoughts, but you should only put up things of real interest. Pick wisely, but on the other hand don’t be afraid to post.

“And I connect with potential clients on LinkedIn and they connect with me, even if they don’t want to engage me just then.”

Which leads to what could almost be The First Rule of Social Media: it helps you create engagement. And there’s no engagement without first making a connection.

Time to start connecting?