We've been having a lot of fun – and learning a LOT – as we increased our focus on social media marketing this summer. We're constantly looking to Instagram and the web for photos of our partners' marinas and our boaters' adventures to share out and encourage other followers to get out and explore more.
Occasionally when we welcome a new marina to Dockwa – or post about a current marina partner that is hosting an event or has contributed to a blog post – we come up empty. So we'd like to say, definitively: If your marina doesn't have photos online, consider this blog post your next (fun!) homework assignment.
Why do you "need" photos?
To back up a moment, we'll turn to some data on how people take in information. The folks over at the design firm Ethos3 compiled some intel on this topic, and found some persuasive reasons for you to take and post more visual assets of your marina online. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Not only are boaters more likely to look at your website or social post if that page or post includes an image, the fact that it has an image makes them 4x more likely to share it out once they have. That's huge – if you're struggling with filling slips in your marina, make sure you're promoting it with images people want to see and share online.
We hear it all the time: Humans are visual animals. If you're able to communicate details about your marina through photos and images, you could cut down on the amount of messages that get sent back and forth about slip assignments.
In summary: We're more likely to click, remember, and respond to visuals. So show, don't tell. If your website says you have excellent fishing, get some photos of boaters bringing back their haul. If you have amazing sunsets and a fabulous restaurant on-site, get photos of both and share on your social channels and site. The list goes on.
Aside from helping convince a boater to book at your marina, photos and visuals can also:
- Educate transient guests as to the layout out your docks, facilities, and rules of your marina.
- Set expectations. If part of your facility is under construction or things have changed since the prior season, boaters appreciate being prepared rather than caught off guard.
- Increase your reach when you post to your social channels. Facebook knows people respond more to visuals, and have set their algorithm so that any post with an image or video is more likely to show up in your followers' feeds.
Need help figuring out what photos you need to have of your marina? Below are the 10 photos we wish we had for every marina on Dockwa. Treat them as categories, and keep adding to your collection to help your ongoing marketing efforts.
10 Photos Your Marina Needs to Post Online
1: Your Docks
We'll start with a softball: Stand at your office first thing in the morning, sip your coffee, take a picture. Pretty day? Post it on social. Foggy and rainy? Post it on social. Your docks or moorings are what boaters are hoping to see first, and if you don't provide photos on your website they may just move on to the next marina that has them at the ready.
2: The Approach
A photo taken from a boat underway as it approaches your docks allows boaters to put themselves in the shoes of a sailor on their way in. It's not purely a play on emotion – this point of view provides boaters with a visual frame of reference for their approach, decreasing anxiety for first-time guests. (Bonus assignment: Take a video!)
3: Sunrise, Sunset
There's just something about a sunrise or sunset on the water that you can't quite describe with words, and if you're on the water, chances are you have a vantage point of one or the other. Make a point to get photos and video of each to bring boaters into your world, and encourage them to see it for themselves.
4: Boaters on the Docks
After a long day on the water, stretching out on a stationary surface taking it all in can feel like a gift. Whatever you've got, flaunt it: the beach, picnic tables, a roped-off swim area – take photos so that boaters can feel like they have some breathing room as they're booking.
5: Common Areas & Amenities
If your marina has a lounge, showers, restaurant, ship's store, computer room, grocery store, those are all fair game to give a boater a better idea of what they can expect when they come in. At the very least, share/post a photo of your dock office that boaters will see when they check in. (My personal favorite: a marina's book exchange.)
6: The Yard
If your marina has a boat yard, show off the lift, your crew's finished handiwork, the crew at work, etc. If you don't have a boat yard, share whatever repair capabilities you have available, and perhaps photos of the boat yards you work with nearby.
7: The Team
Give boaters a sense of the friendly atmosphere they'll be encountering when they stay with you! Post and share photos of team members behind the desk, out on the docks helping boats tie up, or just enjoying life at the marina. If you have a dock dog, put that little guy to work mugging for the camera as well.
8: The Docks at Night
Whether your docks are lit by a cityscape, lanterns or the boats themselves, try to capture the scene for your potential guests. Setting the expectation for what they'll experience at your peaceful (or lively) marina will help them start dreaming of their stay there.
If you host events on-site or if your town does nearby, those are fair game as well! Show your local color with photos of everything from small traditions to big festivals. Seeing cookouts, live music, and town fairs all help indicate to boaters that with a bit of research, they could plan their trip to include some of the local festivities.
10. Local Attractions
Many boaters appreciate historical sites and local attractions. If your marina's hometown or region has one or a handful of noteworthy sites boaters might be interested in, snap a photo and include on your site.
How should you go about getting photos? Check out our recent blog post on one DIY method. Modern smartphones have much better resolution than those of even three years ago – the idea that you have to plunk down thousands of dollars for professional photos is intimidating and outdated.
That said, professional photographers exist for a reason. If you have the budget for it and want a series of great photos of your marina, try starting by including a call for photos in an email to your previous years' guests. Some boaters take up photography as a hobby (or profession) to make money as they travel.
Thank you to the team at Ethos3 for sharing their findings.