Starting up in the drone industry can be daunting. To begin with, you’ll have to jump through a bunch of regulatory hoops in order to get a license. Then, as with most startups, you’ll need to invest in high-quality gear that helps you get the job done. But if your focus is to grow your drone business, read on!
But those aren’t even the biggest challenges. Getting certified in accordance with the Part 107 Rule and buying a drone good enough for commercial projects is the easy part. What comes next is where things can get difficult.
Somehow, you’ve got to make sure potential clients are aware of your services. You need to advertise the quality of your work, your areas of expertise and your availability.
Sure, you can build a website and exhibit your work and services on there. But there are hundreds of websites out there dedicated to individual drone pilots and commercial UAV operators. How are you going to stand out? Websites are also fairly complicated to set up, cost a significant amount of money to build and maintain and give you no guarantee of a return.
Having said that, you’re still going to need a website. But that’s an article for another time.
Getting a drone business off the ground is difficult without a significant investment in marketing. Unless you’ve got enough money to build a sales team who can speculatively contact and pitch to clients, you’re going to need to find a more efficient way of getting yourself noticed.
That’s where social media comes in. You might be living under the impression that social media platforms are full of a.) kids b.) partisan political bubbles and c.) clickbait. Sure, to an extent you will find all of those things across Facebook, Instagram and the rest.
But here’s the thing. Social media platforms are also legitimate places to advertise your business free of charge. And with careful nurturing you, your services and your best work could be circulating around the web and eventually getting in front of people who are interested in your services.
You will struggle to find an established business that doesn’t have social media profiles on all of the major sites. As a drone pilot for hire, it’s highly likely that you’ll be working for businesses, not individuals. So where better to reach out to prospective clients than on platforms literally built to bring people together?
Read more: How to Make Money With Your Drone
Why drones and social media go hand in hand
Media. Aerial photography. Landscape shots. Inspections and mapping projects. FPV flight. All of these have one thing on common: they capture our imagination, as well as spectacular views from above. They are also purely visual, a source of entertainment and wonder for many.
All of these factors together make it no surprise that drone footage and social media go hand in hand. Images and videos are proven to generate higher levels of engagement compared to text-only posts, and drones offer some of the most impressive images and videos it’s possible to publish.
In the world of social media content can spread like wildfire as it’s shared from one community to the next. Below are a few platforms that you should consider if you want to make a name for yourself and your drone business.
Grow your drone business audience = Growing your exposure to potential clients
The first thing to bear in mind is that different social media platforms are suited to different types of media. For example, your everyday aerial photography of landscapes and scenic views will go down well on nearly all platforms – handy if you want to publicize general aerial photography services.
However, if your work is more niche in nature, such as aerial inspections or mapping, then you may want to stick to the more professionally-minded platforms.
Social Media Platforms You Should Be Using ( include screenshots and links to social profiles.
Facebook is the world’s most popular social media platform, and although it’s not strictly for professional purposes, there’s no shortage of businesses publicising their best work via dedicated Facebook ‘pages’.
More good news: Facebook is also HUGE for video content. In fact, more than 500 million people watch videos on Facebook every single day, while the social media giant has also partnered with a number of drone manufacturers for live streaming in-flight.
It’s easy enough for you to set up a business page like the one in the image above. All you need is a Facebook account and you’re good to go. Once it’s all set up, you can add details of what you do and where you do it, along with contact links should anyone be interested in your services.
Facebook works with highly sophisticated algorithms, so your content will only be put in front of people who have shown an interest in it or things that are similar. Because of this, you’ll have to organically build an audience through friends and family, before extending your reach out to potential clients.
While Facebook is built more to help businesses gain ‘fans’ than customers, there’s no harm in sharing your aerial videos and seeing how viral they can go. Stunning aerial photography and an attention-grabbing caption are all you need for a video’s reach to grow exponentially.
You never know, it just might end up in front of someone who’s looking for someone just like you.
Top tip for marketing your business on Facebook…
Don’t be sucked into paying for ‘likes’. Facebook offers businesses the chance to ‘boost’ posts in order to advertise the page itself and, as a result, your services. In theory this is a great idea, but in reality, you’re likely to end up paying for worthless attention from a bunch of fake, spammy accounts in India and Africa.
Facebook doesn’t exactly vet who engages with your content – they get paid either way. If you are going to put money into accruing ‘likes’ for your page, make sure you tailor the target demographic to fit the audience you want to engage with.
On the face of it, Twitter’s 140 character limit might seem pretty restrictive. But that’s entirely the point. There’s no room for waffle and people tend to get straight to the point.
This, added to full optimization for video and general media, means that it’s a great platform on which to represent and publicize your drone business.
Just like with Facebook, it’s incredibly easy to set up an account a build a brand page for your business. But unlike Facebook, it’s really easy to reach out to people that might be potential clients. All you have to do is @ them and start a conversation.
Twitter is also a great place to discover members of the drone community, keep up with the latest industry news and keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on. It’s market research, marketing and sales all rolled into one – if you want it to be.
The good thing about Twitter is that almost every legitimate business that you might want to offer your services to will be on there and relatively active. The bad thing is that they, like you, will probably use the platform more for marketing than for buying services.
Top tip for marketing your drone business on Twitter…
Get involved. ‘Follow’ prospective clients and engage with their posts. Not in a creepy, stalkerish way, but find the right balance between letting them know you’re there and being a silent observer.
The beauty of Twitter is that, with the 140 character limit in mind, you can let your work do the talking anyway. Upload some of your finest drone videos and ping them out to people you want to work with. Easy.
Instagram is a platform tailor-made for aerial videographers. It’s all about the quality of your images and your ability to create a loyal following with mesmerizing media.
If your drone footage is strong enough, building an audience shouldn’t be a problem. You can also throw links onto your profile if potential clients want to get in touch.
Much like Facebook, Instagram is more likely to get you ‘fans’ than clients, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a great place to exhibit your best work, act on feedback from an engaged community and score one or two jobs nonetheless.
Top tip to grow your drone business by marketing on Instagram
Instagram is a visual platform, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for variation. Mix up the shots that you post, include both stills and short videos.
Another thing: engage with your audience. Sure, you might be a master of the hashtag. And it’s perfectly possible to build a following without ever following a single person, but you’re much more likely to grow your base quickly if you give others and their work some attention too.
There’s no easy way to say this: If you’re not using Youtube to market your drone business then you’re a fool. As well as being the platform for video content, Youtube has over 1 billion users and is the second most popular search engine after Google.
Instead of creating a profile on Youtube, you create a channel. There you can showcase your best work, provide contact information and talk some more about your services. As long as you give your videos relevant titles and descriptions, you’ll have a good chance of gaining a huge amount of exposure for your drone footage.
Instead of followers, your Youtube channel can gain subscribers. These people will be alerted every time you post a new video and will form the basis of your view count over time.
Best of all, Youtube videos are compatible with most other social media platforms, so as well as picking up views from Youtube directly, you have a good chance of seeing your work spread.
Top tip for marketing your drone business on Youtube
Your channel is essentially your portfolio. Remember that in the drone industry, it’s probably the first and final way that potential clients will judge the quality of your work. So only upload work you are proud of, and work that you would show to prospective clients to win their business.
Second, ensure that you pack your video descriptions with keywords relevant to the viewers you want to reach – Youtube is a search engine like any other, so treat it that way.
Youtube is the most mainstream video platform, no doubt about it. But Vimeo is certainly the most professional. The functionality of these two social media sites is very similar, but there are two main differences between Vimeo and Youtube.
First, because you have to pay to set up a business channel on Vimeo, it’s turned into a much higher quality site that’s mainly used by professionals. This is reflected in the lack of built-in adverts that can sometimes make Youtube annoying to use.
Second, all videos on Vimeo are HD minimum, which makes it perfect for drone footage and pilots wanting to show off their best work.
Top tip for marketing your drone business on Vimeo
Just like with Youtube, your channel is your portfolio. Never upload content for the sake of it – only publish footage that you’re convinced will win you subscribers and appeal to potential clients.
Second, make the most of the Vimeo Business membership, which allows you to add CTAs and email sign-ups directly to your videos. That way, even if your footage is embedded in an exterior website you can generate genuine business opportunities.
Skypixel is DJI’s baby, a drone-only social media platform designed to build a community around aerial photography. It goes without saying that this is an ideal place to set up a profile and get yourself noticed in the industry.
On the one hand, Skypixel is perfect if you want to find inspiration gain feedback from your peers. On the other, you’ll be marketing your services and expertise among a collective that’s largely doing exactly the same.
It’s that age-old problem: do you separate yourself from the competition by pitching up elsewhere? Or do you join together so that potential clients know exactly where to look?
Top tip for marketing your business on Skypixel
Make sure you create a profile in the ‘companies‘ section – that’s where prospective clients will be searching for drone pilots. Include your contact details and a link to your personal website.
LinkedIn differs from all of the above social media platforms. First of all, it’s strictly professional – You won’t find any selfies or political rants on here.
On the face of it, LinkedIn isn’t the best place to exhibit your aerial videos. However, it is a great place to discover potential clients and establish yourself as a professional in the drone industry.
Just as with Skypixel, you can create a company page dedicated to your services
Top tip for marketing your drone business on LinkedIn
Get involved! LinkedIn is a place for debate and the sharing of informed opinions. See a construction company showing off media from their latest project? Comment on their photos and suggest aerial photography, instead. Have some thoughts on new drone regulations? Share them with your peers and build a reputation for industry insight.
Social media marketing strategy for your drone business
Show off your best work
A running theme throughout our explanations of these social media platforms is a simple one: only publish your best work. Clients don’t want to see footage of you crashing your drone into a tree.
They want to see what you can bring to their business, so only show your A-game on your social media platforms.
As video platforms such as Youtube and Vimeo can see your content become embedded in websites and on other platforms, it’s in your interest to make your content look as professional as possible.
Engage with potential customers
It might be tempting to simply post your work on social media platforms and watch the follower/subscriber number continue to tick upwards.
Being a silent observer on social media won’t hinder your chances of winning new business. But it will hold you back from reaching your full potential. Engage with your audience, connect and start discussions with potential clients, and always respond to feedback and questions in a timely manner.
A proactive approach like this will help you build a loyal following of ‘fans’, as well as expanding your reach as quickly as possible.
Repurpose your content
Although you’re in the business of aerial photography, you don’t only have to share videos of your work. Mix it up a little.
This could include publishing still images from a recent project, or writing up a blog post detailing the steps you took to come up with a popular piece of footage. Explore using infographics of Gifs.
Repurposing content will help you spend less time developing content to share on social media and more time earning money.
Social media platforms give you the opportunity to become a genuine thought leader in your field, so don’t be afraid to share opinions and tips. Both will make you more trustworthy in the eyes of clients while repurposing content.
Publicize your relationship with big clients
Feeling proud about a particular project you’ve worked on with a big name in the industry? Tell the world!
Publicizing successful projects with big clients is an easy step toward winning more business.
Adapt your strategy to suit each platform
As we’ve detailed, each of the above platforms (and there are many more, by the way) has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Some, such as Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, are arguably better suited to gaining fans rather than clients. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (more fans = more exposure for your work). But it does mean that you’ll have to tailor what you put out there to suit the audience.
Youtube and Instagram, for example, are ideal places to show off your best footage and gain more exposure for your work. LinkedIn and Twitter, on the other hand, are probably better suited to engaging directly with prospective clients.