Visual Storytelling: Using the Right Social Media Photos to Increase Customer Engagement

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When it comes to using social media to promote your company, the popular cliché, “a picture is worth a thousand words” is spot-on.

Whether viewed on a tablet, smartphone, laptop or other digital device, pictures can be eye-catching and often stimulate a variety of emotions. Images immediately draw attention from the observer and inherently encourage interaction.

Photos, artwork, and videos used on popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, can help business owners and managers say something meaningful about their company. It encourages customer opinions, tagging, and sharing.

Recent studies show that photos, images, and infographics now generate more user engagement, sharing activity, and traffic than a basic tweet, blog post, or other written content. In fact, a status update on Facebook featuring an accompanying image generates 53 percent more engagement or response from fans and friends, according to a recent HubSpot report.

Photos in social media allow customers to feel more connected to and invested in a company’s product or service. However, the important thing to understand is that not just any old photograph will do; you need high quality images that are truly eye-catching and relevant.

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Photo sample courtesy of Dreamstime.com

Keep in mind: the better the photos, the more professional your business looks. Whether your business is a start-up or an established Fortune 500 company, here are some basic tips about how to use images to increase the number of users who interact with your company’s social media content:

 

1. Be creative, but stay relevant.

Your visuals don’t have to be taken by professional photographers — although that can definitely help. You can take many photos yourself, as long as they’re clear and well lit. Bright colors, high contrast and unusual angles can help your images stand out in a fan’s timeline or Pinterest board.

Imagery works if it’s compelling, not something that looks like a standard photo that you see on a random company brochure. Quality photos can grab a users’ immediate attention. Your photos should be so good that people will want to share them. Whether you use images of your products, or of you and your staff, be sure you post something that will immediately grab a follower’s attention, with the potential to initiate a conversation.

Photos can be used to help tell your company’s story or to show followers an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at your business’ product or service. Creating a quality, custom image is also a great way to commemorate company milestones and thank customers for the part they played in achieving them.

Don’t just use an image because it’s attractive or interesting, though. The visuals you choose should be relevant to the rest of your content, and your company’s brand and image. Avoid photos that are vague, or that can be misconstrued to mean something else. What’s the use of an eye-catching picture if it has nothing to do with what’s on the page?

 

2. Get Up-Close and Personal. 

Photojournalist Robert Capa once said: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Capa was not necessarily advocating the use of longer lenses; he was actually telling us to physically get closer — to become more involved and intimate with our subjects.

If you are taking the picture yourself, do your homework. Schedule some time beforehand to study a photography book to learn the basics, even if you will be using your phone’s camera.

Use a telephoto lens when you want to “zoom in” on your subject. This will not only give you dynamic, compositional lines that can result in a strong, visual impact, but also will give you an up-close, personal view of your subject.

Remember: You can actually tell a whole story by using a single, yet very powerful example.

 

3. Be Intuitive.

Take time to consider where the action will take place when shooting photos, especially at special events. From a larger perspective, guess where your subjects will be at certain points during the event, and what special activity he or she will be participating in.

For example, if you are photographing a VIP who will be planting a tree, don’t try to fight your way close to that person at the event’s entrance, or when the VIP getting out of the car – but rather wait for “the moment” at the spot where the tree will be planted. This type of advanced planning can ensure that you will have plenty of time to prepare for the important moment you want to capture.

Additionally, if you are using a new camera, be sure to familiarize yourself with it before attending an event. Your subject(s) won’t wait for you to take a photo.

Exposure adjustments have to be made rather as a reflex – you’ll have to know your camera, see the light and adjust accordingly, without too much thinking during the actual “big” moment.

 

4. Think Fast, and Pay Close Attention.

Giving thought to your scene and the subject can make all the difference in producing a meaningful image. For example, facial expressions play a huge role in determining whether a photo is good or bad.

Patience can be another deal-breaker when it comes to capturing the right image. Acting like a trigger-happy photographer could cost you to lose the best possible shot, so be sure to only conduct one exposure “test” per scene, and proceed carefully as you capture each moment. If you pay too much attention to the camera’s LCD during a special event, you risk losing out on good, quality shots.

 

5. Give permission to share.

Allow your audience to share your images freely. Make it easy for fans and followers to make your visuals go viral by posting details on your Web site’s terms of use section, or on your page footer.

For example, make your images “pinnable.” This means when a reader clicks on the image, it gets “pinned” on their Pinterest board. Pinterest can be integrated with other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, so when one of your readers pins an image, it has a chance to be posted on their other social networks as well, which ultimately means even more exposure for your company.

A great social media visual strategy can play a crucial role in increasing engagement with your social media audience. If you want to get more from your company’s social media activities, start by implementing eye-catching image strategies.

Visuals have the power to grab a customer’s attention and get to the point quickly. Try to use social media sites as ways to build your visual brand. From a marketing perspective, if you incorporate this method into your overall content marketing approach, you can successfully and cost effectively expand your reach on this fast growing, high engagement platform.

 

Guest author Serban Enache is the Founder and CEO of the stock photography site Dreamstime.com, which has more than 130,000 contributing photographers and offers more than 16 million images for  6,000,000 clients ranging from individuals to Fortune 500 companies.


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