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What if all photos were treated like many race photos?

Race photography is an important part of your race marketing efforts. Don't be that race that makes runners post photos with "proof" all over their moment of glory.

What if all photos were treated like many race photos?

The ability to quickly and easily share and view photos is one of the most popular reasons users are on social media. Over 350 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day. People can’t wait to show off accomplishments, major milestones in their lives, and of course the beloved photo crossing the finish line of a race. Yet, as race directors, we often take the route of selling race photos to save money, make additional revenue, or a bit of each. When users don’t buy, they download and post their photo with “proof” plastered all over their victorious finish. Are these the photos that you want to best represent your race?

Marketing your race doesn’t stop at the finish line
Up until race day, it’s mostly on you to promote your race and get runners to your event. However, after the race is when your participants do all of the marketing for you, at no cost. As your participants start posting photos of race day, their big finish, and smiling while running with friends, you’re getting a serious push for future events. This type of marketing is about as good as it gets, as it’s coming from trusted friends, rather than a sponsored post.

Race photography options
Yes, hiring photographers and buying the rights to photography is expensive. In my last race with 2,000 participants, I spent around $3,000 on race photography; $1.50 per participant. However, it allowed all participants to download every one of their photos for free, and share at will. And share they did. It also included a crew of 6 photographers, so each participant averaged 6-8 photos of their race experience. To help offset some of the cost, I created a sponsorship opportunity, where a local running store’s logo was watermarked on the bottom corner of each photo. The store gets huge reach with their sponsorship, my runners get great photos they’re happy to share, and I’m getting tons of free marketing for next year’s race. The race logo was in the other bottom corner.

Depending on the size of your race, you may be able to hire local photographers or photography students. Just ensure that they can get solid photos of your participants, even when there’s a stampede at the finish line. Also, check to make sure you have full rights to use, share and distribute the photos.

Photo hosting options
If you have a large number of photos in high-resolution, this part can take a bit of time, but is again absolutely worth it. I recommend using Facebook and Instragram to upload all of your race photos. Your participants will spend the time to find photos of themselves and friends, and will start tagging away. The number of people you reach will quickly spike and see far greater reach than most individual posts. This is where you’re going to also pick up new participants who will want to jump in next year with their friends.

For full resolution photo hosting, upload all of your photos to an album on Flickr and link to the album. It’s free, highly available, and trusted.

Let your participants be your marketing crew and get them the tools they need to make the most of their effort. Unless there’s absolutely no other option, please let’s help to keep proof photos out of our news feeds. Let your participants show off their moment of glory, while promoting your race for you.

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