Today I am sharing a real candid conversation with two of my Leslie Kerrigan Photography model team members, Mallory and Hannah Grace. We’re chatting about social media, what’s cool and what’s cringe, and all the things high school seniors think about when it comes to photography.
This conversation includes what’s trendy and how to impress your Gen Z clients so that you can really understand the teens that we are marketing to and it’s a great example of what you as a photographer should be asking and talking to your seniors and model team members about.
Usually, they use Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram—those are the main three. Snapchat is how they talk to their friends. That’s not somewhere they want to see businesses or adults in general. With Instagram and TikTok, it is more accepted that you are going to be marketed to. You expect to see influencers and more paid sponsorships there. You can shop from Instagram too.
Mallory and Hannah Grace personally post more on Instagram. They use stories for reposting other people’s. They also keep their LKP stories on the Story Highlights and add to that. Teens in general don’t post as often on their feed, so what qualifies as a good enough post to make it on your feed? When you’re going somewhere and you want people to know that you’re there because you’re excited about where you’re going and what you’re doing. Your feed isn’t as casual as the other person in your story.
A feed photo has to be worthy of the feed. Your feed is for when you’re really dressed up. In other words, it’s not a casual thing. It’s more like “I really, really like this photo.” The background and your outfit matter.
Teens like when you post more about your life, which gives an insight to who you are as a person. They don’t want to see things like “I took this photo, book me,”…they want to see behind the scenes and the places you go. So it’s not just about your photography business the whole time. Instead of always directly marketing your business, they want you to share a little bit more about who you are because you feel like if you know more about the person that makes you connect to them better on Instagram.
Both Hannah Grace and Mallory had their senior photos taken back in September – at the beginning of their senior year. So do they share them all at once? Or save them throughout the year?
“I’ve posted a Senior Sunday just so that I could post more of my senior pictures and to show that I got into USC,” said Mallory.
Hannah Grace said, “I first posted all of my favorite pictures. Then I posted the ones with my friends. Then I feel like we took so many on our shoot that I still have a few that I can still share throughout the year.
When you get into college, you want to save some of those photos to announce that. And then also maybe closer to graduation and a Senior Sunday. So you kind of, you kind of break them up.”
If they know a certain photographer, either through an older sibling or a friend who used that photographer, they’ll go with them. So word of mouth and referrals are huge. They’d never just blankly hire a senior photographer because of a social media post. They’d look into it and ask around if any of their friends have used them.
Girls at school will ask about the senior photos that they post or about their experience being on the model team—including the younger girls who are going into their senior year. The younger girls follow the senior models on social and see their posts (which is how they know they’re on the team). This visibility prompts them to ask about it at school. It naturally develops interest for juniors who want to be on the model team next year as seniors because Hannah Grace and Mallory have shared the fun they are having with it. Their friends have hired me because of them naturally share their experiences.
Both Hannah Grace and Mallory have followed LKP for a long time. They looked up to all the girls who came before them on the model team. Knowing girls who were a part of it made them follow along, and watch what they were doing, and then when it was their time, they wanted to be a part of it, too.
Through the model team, they get more than just your senior photo shoot. They love connecting with others at the holiday parties and the fact that they still have so many other shoots that they can share throughout the year. They don’t have to post so many just from that one shoot.
While they love getting their hair and make-up done, as well as having an excuse to buy new clothes (though they don’t have to do that…), my models also love:
The first piece of advice is to share parts of your life on your Instagram by incorporating what you do besides photography. For example, you can share about the college where your kids go and what you like to do in that area.
The other advice is to show off different destinations of where you can get your photos taken—because most people don’t think to ask about that! A lot of people just get their senior pictures where they live. That means a lot of senior pictures are similar. But if you have people on your model team that go to different places, share where those pictures were taken. When they see cool destinations, they think, “oh, we would love to get our pictures at the beach!” That is another thing that makes them want to use you as a photographer.
Gen Z doesn’t have to be a hard nut to crack. You just have to talk to them, ask them questions and listen to what they have to say. Then take that info and implement it into your business and determine how best. to market to Gen Z.
Now it’s your turn! Ask your model team or senior clients to sit down with you for a candid conversation. Meet them for coffee or take them to dinner and talk to them. And if you don’t have a model team or you’re new to senior photography, use what my models shared with you today about what’s trendy and how to impress your Gen Z clients.
If you want to start a model team or improve on your model team and need help with all things model team, I have a few amazing resources for you. The Spokesmodel Academy is an online course that teaches you how to create, structure, launch, and successfully run a model team for your senior photography business. In this course, I walk you through my exact model team, what works and what doesn’t, how to plan the launch, and get the most models that you can.
If you’re looking for an in-person event to learn more about model teams, I have something coming that is just for you. You can be the first one to know about this and any other in-person retreats that I have coming by joining the waitlist here. Be sure to put your name on that list, because I’m sending all the info there first.
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