When our friend and fellow PPA member, Kristi Sutton Elias of Long Beach, Calif., told us about StickyAlbums, we knew we had to give it a try. At her suggestion, we did the free trial and were immediately hooked on the concept.
The bottom line is this: If you need a tool that lets your clients enthusiastically share your work with their entire social network, StickyAlbums are the way to go.
In our studio, Je Revele, we believe there's only one thing that generates business more than a solid referral: the solid visual referral. An online endorsement with an accompanying visual is as good as gold. That's the premise behind StickyAlbums. If you want your studio and your work to go viral, StickyAlbums could be the tipping point. Global retail brands and major marketing pioneers are always looking for new ways to infiltrate the mobile communication space. StickyAlbums, founded by photographer Nate Grahek, gave us a leg up in our own industry. So, enough hype.
HOW IT WORKS
A StickyAlbum is a mobile smartphone app that allows you to share your client's session images in a mobile "mini-website" format, complete with your studio's own branding. In turn, your client can show off your work to family and friends straight from their mobile phone or tablet. It gives clients the choice of several social media platforms to share their album using text message, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or email. Your images can be passed forward and shared in a crisp format, without the ability for a client to download, or right-click copy. Genius.
Here's a simple run-through:
1. You set up your album from the user-friendly StickyAlbum site according to your branding and specifications. They even provide optional downloadable branding template files to help you design it. They also provide a great tutorial online to guide you through your first album. You need to think strategically about where and how your customers will get to link to your website, because that's where the new site traffic flow begins.
2. Once your settings are arranged, you can create individual client albums and upload your images. It allows a maximum of 30 to 40 images per album, which could be considered a drawback. But still, a great sampling of your work. Images must be resized to meet StickyAlbum dimensions. Here at Je Revele we set up a batch Photoshop action to resize for us. StickyAlbums can resize images for you, but it doesn't always work with large files or images you want to appear at a specific ratio. I'm optimistic that this function will be improved in future; StickyAlbums upgrades frequently. According to Grahek, "The StickyAlbums Builder ... creates a lower-res image (1,600 pixels) that is delivered to users on phone-sized screens and then a 2,048-pixel image for users on a computer or iPad 3. However we recommend users process their images down to 2,048-pixels on the longest edge before uploading to the builder to save upload time."
3. Next, you have StickyAlbums’ latest feature, the option to embed YouTube or other site links. We embedded our Animoto slideshow set to music into a client's album recently, and she loved being able to access her slideshow presentation to share with friends. It's great to be able to use two vendors that we use frequently in tandem and have it work so well. It could also be a great way to visually promote our client experience in the future.
4. As a final step, you simply copy and paste a link and email it to your clients. When they receive it, they'll get a prompt to add the app to their phone. When they tap the app on their screen, it is a mini-website, complete with a link to our studio phone and website. It couldn't be easier for them, or for us. When your client shares the album, the recipient must then upload your studio's app on their phone too. A small number of clients consider it a drawback when they want to share a single image rather than the entire album, but I like it. StickyAlbums is considering single-photo sharing for future upgrades.
Our signature museum-quality prints are very important to our studio, so we have a very firm policy about not giving away JPEGs. Only top-tier clients who are purchasing from a large collection for their own archiving purposes have an option to purchase digital files. Though we tend to attract a high-value clientele, we can never seem to elude the “I’d like the JPEGs on a CD” request. StickyAlbums has given us a great alternative to the awkward, “No.” My response now is, “Oh! You’d like digital files with your prints? Yes. Wait until you see our iPhone app. You can share the album with whomever you like. It’s a mini-website for your iPhone and iPad. It’s only $X!” They usually seem pretty jazzed, even if they can’t print the images.
StickyAlbums has also become part of our client-incentive program. When clients reach a certain spending threshold, they are eligible for a variety of complimentary add-ons; StickyAlbums has become one of the most popular choices. In boudoir, family, and coming-of-age sessions (seniors), it’s the most requested bonus. They truly want the app, so they are willing to spend a little extra to get it.
2. Viral Promotions
Our studio has a promotional calendar throughout the year. This holiday season, it occurred to me that we want our promotions and specials to be as widely shared as our work. With people on the go and out shopping, the mobile device is a great way to reach them. Why not set up some pretty promotional pages of each of our specials that our clients can forward to their friends?
3. Niche Marketing
SENIORS – Some studios have senior client ambassador programs, which can be difficult to execute and costly. With Sticky Albums, senior ambassadors can showcase your work in precisely the way teens communicate with each other.
BOUDOIR – Sometimes our clients are so proud of their intimate portraits, shyness is a non-factor. One of my boudoir clients is a single thirtysomething with an affluent, influential circle. When they ask what she’s been up to, she shares her album for a little shock value. Another client used it as a sneak peek for her husband before the big album arrived.
WEDDINGS – Like many wedding photographers, we scramble to get those sneak peeks from the wedding to start spreading like wildfire on Facebook the morning after. You can send a StickyAlbum as a surprise to the bride and groom on their way to the honeymoon. You can bet they’ll be sharing with everyone they know from their iPhone before they even board the plane. It’s an instantaneous wedding referral that will likely lead to bookings.
NEWBORNS – We’re finding that many of our busy Moms are skipping the hassle of mailed birth announcements and going mobile. They’ll order a fabulous fine art portrait or album for themselves, but then send everyone else a quick digital album straight from their mobile contact list. Some tell us they love the idea of friends and relatives carrying the baby’s photos everywhere they go. It’s a great add-on to a studio Baby Plan, too.
4. Business analytics
As former business executives, my partner Natalie and I get a bit hard-core when it comes to our marketing metrics and effectiveness. StickyAlbums recently launched their album analytics, which enables us to view client engagement with the app. From our Sticky Albums dashboard we can see the precise number of an album’s unique views and views vs. unique views. We know exactly who is spreading the word and which clients are a bit more private.
For a relatively modest subscription fee ($27/month or $224 for a year), we’ve been able to tap into a cutting-edge tool that’s a delight to our clients. All in all, StickyAlbums have been a wonderful addition to our studio offering. And we’ve only just begun to think of the many amazing ways to use it.
Cate Scaglione is a photographer, freelance writer, and former advertising creative executive. She is a proud member of PPA and co-owner of the award-winning duo known as Je Revele Fine Art Photography, a multi-service fine art studio she co-owns with her business partner, PPA member Natalie Licini. In addition, Cate spends time consulting with creative businesses, photographers and artists on brand strategy and design.