Adding Imagery to Your Social Media Marketing Mix
Images are hot in social media right now — from Facebook cover photos to Pinterest boards to Instagram albums — and companies everywhere are getting wise to their increasing value as part of their marketing mix.
And that’s awesome news if your business makes pretty things.
But what do you do if your company doesn’t? What if you make a gangly sprocket or sell a service or even just ideas? Does this mean you have to miss out on the visual revolution?
But you DO need to get a little creative.
Those photos you have on hand of your President shaking hands while accepting an award or posing with a shovel at a groundbreaking just ain’t gonna cut it anymore. Like the written content they consume, social audiences today want the content they view to be more active, entertaining and original.
Here’s how to start creating some imagery for your company to fit this bill.
Take pictures of your people doing stuff.
If your business has a staff, then you have a subject for pictures.
Even if it’s just pictures of them sitting around a table arguing about an idea, seeing your people bring your product or service to life can be as interesting as your promotional blurb describing it.
- If you’re hiring, take pictures of your staff having fun around the office. (These will be way more compelling to applicants than the best-written job description.)
- If your staff are going to events and conferences to learn how to do their job better, sell that investment to your potential clients/customers by capturing those experiences in photos.
- Does someone bring their dog to work? Take a picture of it. (Cute kids and animals are ALWAYS a popular subject matter for photos.)
Take, and create, pictures of the things that inspire your work.
If you sell ideas, those ideas need to come from somewhere, and THOSE places may make for great imagery. For example…
- Share early sketches of a new product.
- Brainstorm ideas and take a picture of the resulting white board or create a sketchnote that encapsulates a discussion.
- Use an application like visual.ly to create an infographic to explain your company’s process.
- Take pictures of the places you go (the park, museums, etc.) to come up with your best ideas.
- Share color palettes that inspired the design of your logo, your office, your product’s packaging, etc.
Remember, images about how you think can be just as exciting as what you think. Just be sure to give credit where credit is due if any of those images were originally created by someone else.
Take pictures of people who use your stuff.
Camera shy? No problem. Just like your written content, you don’t want all of your images on social media to be “me, me, me” all of the time.
Who are your customers and clients? Can you take pictures of them and incorporate those into your marketing? For example…
- Instead of just including a written testimonial from a client on your website or social post, take a picture of the person with some blank wall in the background and create a photo quote.
- Take pictures of your products and services being used/enjoyed/consumed “in the wild.”
- Take a before and after picture of something you transformed for a client and Photoshop them side by side in one image so people can get a sense of your process.
Create images that stop traffic.
There is gobs of content on the web, so you will need to up the ante if you want yours to stand out from all the rest.
Sure, it’s both easy and reassuring to use polished stock photos of people looking brochure-worthy in your marketing (er…kinda like the photo I used in this post). But images like that aren’t really going to pop out and grab people’s attention in a crowded social feed. Instead, try to…
- Photograph things that are out of the ordinary.
- Photograph things in an interesting way.
- Photobomb your own perfectly posed company shots.
- Wear something out of the ordinary in a picture or use a prop.
- Crop a picture so people can’t quite tell what it is and need to click through to learn more.
- Create an illustration instead of using a photo.
So, how are you going to capture all of these images?
Consider two options…
- Go cheap for spontaneity: Some of the most exciting pictures these days are being captured on camera phones of things happening in the moment. Remember that your staff are always likely to have some sort of camera on hand, so get in the habit of saying, “Hey, let’s take a picture of this,” as much as possible. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and you can always delete them or not use them if they turn out wonky.
- Go expensive for the “shock and awe” factor: Photography is an art form, and the people who do it professionally have great skills that, even with cool filters, the rest of us just won’t match. So, if you come up with some great ideas for pictures, consider hiring a pro to help you out. (Hiring a photographer and saying, “shoot cool pictures” as your creative direction isn’t going to cut it.)
Just don’t over think it, folks. The world is becoming increasingly social and the lines between professional and personal are more blurry. People want to be connected to people, so step out from behind those logos, put on a smile and start clicking.
Funny: we’re getting ready to blog our hearts out at our annual conference, including photos of (gasp!) customers! Your timing is impeccable as always!
Awesome. Hope that goes well for you.
Jen: This is hugely helpful and timely information! As a long-time conference manager, I always knew that ‘sessions whose speakers had photos’ were better attended than others: we humans are definitely VISUAL creatures. (I just updated my ‘testimonials’ page online to include actual pics of the people saying nice things, a huge improvement!) Your point is well taken about integrating compelling visuals everywhere we can – but there’s no excuse for just stealing other people’s visual stuff without payment/credit (a point I know we agree on~!) To that end, my current favorite free image resource is http://www.morguefile.com/.
I think people are just in information overload mode all of the time. And pictures help with that, because you can get the gist in a glance. Kinda sucks for us ladies who don’t have professional photographers at our beck and call, but a little challenge ain’t gonna stop us 🙂 Thanks for the photo resource. I’m always looking for new places to troll for pics.