Being Bruce -: Business Social Media Tip #10 - Picture This! Picture That!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Business Social Media Tip #10 - Picture This! Picture That!

The most dramatic, effective, wide-reaching element you can utilize in your social media presence is the photograph. Whatever you write may be misunderstood. Audio files may be missed if computer speakers are turned off. Many don't watch videos (though video use is growing extremely rapidly). The common denominator for universal communication is the graphic or photographic image. How will you use photos in your posts?

The power of photographs cannot be overstated. While words, to be effective, must be interpreted by the brain, and to be understood at all must be written in a language and idiom understood by the reader, photographs are not only universally understood (or at least recognized), images also communicate more directly than words. Whether you call it the heart, the subconscious, or the inner being, regardless of the label, images carry lots of weight and are much better at producing emotional reaction than words. (The fact that advertising and marketing power are based on emotion is too obvious to be belabored here.)

So what images should you use in social media postings? The answer to that question will vary by business and social media 'personality', however, a key question is, how do you want your market to feel? Or more directly, what feelings would you like your market to associate with your company or with you?

It does matter, somewhat, that photos you include in postings are related to your business, but it's more important that your included images carry emotional weight.

Think about it. Do you want your market to associate your business with trust, power, speed, competence, style, sex, security, comfort, happiness, beauty, or joy? All of those feelings or qualities can be conveyed directly or indirectly by photographs.

Think twice before including photographs that are likely to product negative emotions. If your market associates your business with negative feelings, even on a subconscious level, it's unlikely to help. Look for images that portray solutions and good feelings at all times - for example, if you have an insurance company, use images that associate with positive feelings such as security, comfort, and happiness - the benefit insurance is intended to provide, not the problem it addresses.

It's pretty easy to just put up cute photos of babies or puppies, and you will find that viewers like those images and react favorably, and you can certainly attract attention (perhaps not all desirable) if you feature beautiful people in your social media postings. However, the greater challenge is to find ways to include images that add to your social media presence and personality, appeal to your target market, and capture the eye immediately.

For social media that allow it, for example Facebook, use albums for your photos. If your images are stored in categorized albums people can find them more easily after the initial posting.

If you'll post images you capture yourself, which I highly encourage, carry a digital camera whenever you're out and about and get in the mindset of shooting images. Even if you just shoot and post a couple of images a day of interesting things, places, or people you see, the inclusion of photos will strengthen your social media presence.

One last word of advice on photos used for business social media - remember your market and your business purpose for social media. If you're obsessed with trains, for example, but sell custom cakes and desserts, don't overdo it in your business social media with train shots - use them elsewhere. Also, if you have lots of party photos, be aware of the impression those images might have on your potential or existing customers.

Oh yeah, and if you already have lots of photos on the web in social media and elsewhere, of your high school and college days . . . it's a good idea to do what you can to either remove them or have them fall to the bottom of on Internet searches by posting lots of more recent, more, ahem, appropriate images.

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