Facebook as a medium is a great way to reach out to local businesses. Finding a wedding vendor on Facebook may seem like an easy way to build your dream wedding but it’s not without its pit falls and today I am going to share a few useful hints and tips on what to look for when choosing your wedding vendors via Facebook.
I have been an admin on several Facebook groups and pages for a few years and during that time have come across quite a few people that have had issues. For example a couple that arranged for their dream wedding to be held in an outdoor location only to find on the day of the wedding that the caterer booked via Facebook did not show up, even though they had been paid in full a few weeks before. The couple’s that have booked a photo booth for their wedding, only to find when the company showed up, that instead of the photo booth they thought had booked, a young student turned up along with a basic camera, a white sheet and a few props from the local pound shop. As a wedding photography business ourselves that do use Facebook, more worryingly for us are the guys and girls we see on Facebook photography groups asking extremely basic photography questions on those groups and yet offering their services on another wedding vendor group as experienced wedding photographers. However there are also plenty of good quality wedding vendors that advertise their services on Facebook as well, hopefully reading this will make it easier for you to find them.
If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!
Always be wary if you see any wedding vendor service offered on Facebook at a ridiculously low price. Every wedding vendor will have associated costs, from the business you choose as your florist right through to your wedding car company and the business you choose for your wedding invitations. While there will always be differences in costs if one particular vendor is vastly cheaper than the rest you should be suspicious of them. The question you have to ask yourself is if there is a huge difference between that company and the rest, how can they afford to do that while giving the same service? The simple answer to that question is that they can’t. This simply means that they are not offering the same level of service in some way, or even worse the service they are offering does not really exist at all.
Facebook Fan Pages
Pretty much every wedding vendor on Facebook will have one of these. This is because it is free to set up a Facebook page and anyone can do so. Facebook have no checks of any kind in place to ensure that Facebook business pages are set up and maintained by legitimate businesses. Regardless of how many likes the fan page has this is no guarantee that the vendor you are dealing with is a legitimate business or operates in a legitimate way. When you create a Facebook fan page the first thing it asks you to do is invite your friends to like the page. Many people have lots of “friends on Facebook” many of these can be people they don’t know and have added due to playing Facebook games etc. On average if you invite all of your friends to like your Facebook page over 65% of them will do so which means a new fan page can be created and if the user has 2,000 Facebook friends there fan page can show as having 1,300 likes within just a few hours. Did you know that many businesses also pay for fan page likes? There are literally thousands of companies online that someone that has a fan page can buy Facebook likes from and it is reasonably cheap to do so. I have seen advertisements online offering 10,000 Facebook likes for what works out at about £50 when converted into pounds. The exact same thing applies to reviews on Facebook these also can be purchased at extremely low costs. When checking out a wedding vendors Facebook fan page always check to see if the business address is listed in the about section, confirm that the telephone number is listed and that there is a link to a real and properly functioning website. While checking these things offers no sort of guarantee, if these things are included on the page then it is more likely that you are dealing with a real business.
Google is your friend
So you have found a wedding vendor on Facebook whose service is of interest to you, how do you find out more about them and their business? Simply Google the business name, if the only search result Google returns is their Facebook fan page or there are no hits returned be wary of dealing with them. This is simple theory to test, do a Google search for purephotoni and you will find our website listed along with thousands of other entries showing our business name listed on various wedding and photography related websites along with links to our various social media platforms and our yellow pages listing etc.
The various ways of checking out a business above are no cast iron guarantee. If you have checked these things out and are still unsure about the vendor you are dealing with or they don’t meet the criteria talked about above due to being a new business or a very small business there is nothing wrong with asking if anyone can recommend the company you are dealing with. There is always the small chance that a very small business will not have a website etc. I would think it much less likely if they have a Facebook fan page that there would however be a legitimate reason for hiding their address information. Another way to check is to simply post on the Facebook wedding vendor groups asking if anyone has used the business and what their experience was like. Make sure you get a few responses before making a decision as there is always the chance that a reply you receive maybe from a friend of the person whose business you are asking about.
Photographers, what to look for
As a Northern Ireland wedding photographer this is something that we have the most in depth knowledge on. If you want to check out a photographer there are various other things you can do to ensure that the service you pay for is as expected and that the quality of work is as advertised.
Firstly do the same checks as described above..
Does there Facebook page have their address, telephone number and website listed?
When you search the business name on Google does it return the expected results?
Is there website active and regularly updated? (Always check the blog section)
Does there website show a variety of work from different weddings? Be wary if you can only find images from a couple of weddings. Also be wary if there are only a few hand-picked images as this may not be a reflection of their real ability. Pretty much every wedding photographer in Northern Ireland will have a blog section on their website, always check this to view most recent work and real weddings. A lot of photographers do not use real wedding images of their own to advertise themselves, be that on Facebook or on their own websites. Many use stock photography images which they have purchased, many also use images captured during fake wedding shoots with models. I have seen quite a few photographers using images that were taken by them but were captured during workshops were lighting and camera settings etc. have all been controlled by the more experienced person teaching the workshop so may not be a true reflection of the sort of quality of images you can expect from your big day. This type of shoot is undertaken in very controlled conditions and it’s extremely easy to get great images, very few though are able to replicate that sort of quality though when it comes to a real wedding.
Unfortunately sometimes photographers steal other photographers work. I see this talked about quite a lot and it seems to be a common problem. For example I was reading on a photography website only a few days ago about a photographer in England whose entire collection of images displayed on his website and Facebook page were images he had downloaded from other photographers websites worldwide and was using to advertise his services. The problem was that this photographer in no way had the ability to replicate that quality of work meaning he ended up with several very unhappy couples. If you are unsure about a photographer you can check to make sure they are using their own images by using a reverse image search website like www.tineye.com this allows you to do a search to see where online the images have been uploaded before. To see how easy it is to do this feel free to download this image of ours as a test. Simply right click on the image below choose save as and save to your desktop. Then upload the image to the www.tineye.com website and it will return a result showing the image on our website but not on any other photographers website.
Always arrange to meet your wedding photographer face to face before letting them shoot your wedding. Always ask to see an example of the wedding album they use if you want an album included in your package.
Lastly but by no means least always ask to see your photographer’s insurance documentation before booking. Every “real” professional photographer in Northern Ireland will have public liability and indemnity insurance, if they don’t have these in place or say they are unable to show you a copy of the documentation do not book them.
Hopefully this blog post will go some way to helping you find a reliable wedding vendor on Facebook. Many people will book vendors without considering these factors and while fingers crossed for them will hopefully receive the service they expect. If you use the criteria above you are absolutely going to be less likely to run into any issues. We have our own Northern Ireland wedding vendor group on Facebook if you would like to join the group just click here.