15 Photographic TipsTo Maximize Social Media Engagement
How did we ever capture the small moments of life before we had digital cameras to snap selfies and social media platforms to share them over with our friends?
Our smartphones and cameras have become our ever-present visual notepads, and social media—Facebook, Flickr, Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest—has become our repository for the instantaneous share. It only makes sense that marketers tap into this snackable, visual content trend.
5 Eye-opening social media photo facts
To put the implications of this social media photo content into perspective, here are a few eye-opening facts:
- 82% of people use their smartphone to take photographs! (Selfies anyone?)
- Facebook contains 10,000x more photographs than the Library of Congress!
- Snapchat has 150 million photos uploaded/day but most disappear in less than 10 seconds! (If you haven’t heard of this social media entity, your age is showing!)
- 54% of moms use their phone to take photos at least once a day! (Say cheese!)
- Facebook has 1.1 billion photos, Instagram has 100 million photos, Flickr has 87 million photos and Pinterest has 49 million photos!
15 winning tactics to use social media photos
Here are 15 winning tactics divided into 5 broader content marketing strategies for using photos to maximize social media engagement.
1. Tell stories. Learn from the fact that we grew up with picture books that left us with indelible images. While our parents read the text, we remembered the images. What images can tell your business or brand’s story. There’s truth to the old adage, a photograph is worth a thousand words.
- Use one image. Concentrate on one point of interest. You want viewers to be pulled into the frame.
- Offer a series of photographs. Focus on a specific subject or timeframe of importance to your audience. Alternatively show multiple images in one frame.
- Get employees into the frame. Here you’ve got two options. You can take photographs of your employees or you can let your employees showcase their point of view by letting them take the pictures.
- Ask fans to share their photo moments. Everyone wants their 15 seconds of fame. Why not help them? Photographs are great for encouraging community participation since most people have a good camera in their phone and it doesn’t require a lot of effort so that it gets lurkers out of hiding.
Law firm Mcdermott Will and Emery used photos on Instagram to show off their new offices and Dunkin Donuts spotlights its fans on Facebook in these two photos.
2. Evoke emotion. Just as corporate-speak provides a Teflon experience so do stock images. How many companies use photographs of people acting like they’re working? Somehow they never look like any business I’ve ever seen. You don’t need to hear the sound of your boss’s voice to know that he’s pissed off, you can tell by his face. The same thing holds true for your photographs. Consider this the next time you’re photographing your new products for your website and/or catalog.
- Enable window shopping. Pictures are your storefront to lure potential buyers in. Imagine your prospects sitting on the couch dreaming about what they want to make their lives better. They don’t call it couch commerce for nothing!
- Re-imagine your business from the outside. Use an outsider’s perspective. What would they want to see about your business? What would they find of interest? What shows the personality of the people working at your company? Perhaps you do a montage of people’s cubicles or workbags. Add a special twist.
- Entertain viewers. Offer fun, even if you’ve got a very serious business.
Kitchen Cabinet Kings shows customers how their cabinets will look in their kitchens.
3. Solve problems. One of the reasons people turn to the web to research products is to get solutions to their specific challenges. They aren’t necessarily looking for your company; they’re seeking an answer to their issue. This holds true for both potential buyers and existing customers. Some people read the manual and some people don’t. To become the company of choice, you must provide solutions for both types. Problem solving information supports multiple aspects of the purchase process.
- Show me what to do. Use photographs to explain how to use your product.
- Illustrate how to style. This is important for fashion, makeup, weddings, interior design and other similar products. Answer your audience’s question: “How do I get the look I want?”
- Demonstrate your product in action. Most people have trouble visualizing products in context. Help them out.
Gap shows customers how to style their clothes on Instagram.
4. Simplify your photograph. Less is more. If your image is too busy, people will move onto the next one.
- Use a limited number of words (if any). Don’t overwhelm your audience with words.
- Reduce the number of effects you employ. Don’t try to do everything in one image.
- Focus your image. Don’t have too much happening in one frame. It’s visual overload. You need to be able to attract a viewer’s attention.
Take a page from Crest toothpaste where they show photos on Facebook that focus on things that make people smile and show their teeth.
5. Be consistent. The goal is to support your branding efforts by incorporating attributes of your brand into your photographs. This can be done in a variety of ways. You can always use the same background, filter or frame to portray your brand visually. Alternatively, you can share photographs of a specific object, animal or person. Pet companies do this well.
- Think visual meme. Have an on-going theme that viewers can tell and possibly add to.
- Leverage visual elements of your brand. You don’t need to hit people over the head with this. What’s critical is consistency.
Ford Motor Company spotlights its brand when customers share their photos of old cars on Facebook.
To effectively incorporate photographs into your social media content marketing plans, think strategically about what you want them to accomplish and what your target market is seeking.
What other photographic tactics would you add to this list and why?
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2015 is going to be a great year for social marketers, but to make the most of it you'll need a fine-tuned social strategy. This guide is your countdown to the New Year with ten fresh tactics based on the 2014 trends expected to shape the coming year, and ways you can refine your brand's social strategy for success.
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