With the boom of Pinterest and Instagram along with the more photo-centric layout of Facebook, it seems the era of visuals is upon us. And why wouldn’t it be? Pictures are very accommodating and provide the entertainment value and “scanability” that online users prefer.
With everyone hungry for (and expecting) visuals, you have two choices: start integrating more photos and graphics into your social media campaign or become irrelevant. Naturally, no one wants to get left behind, but the question remains, how can you effectively include visuals into your content strategy? Start by following these five suggestions:
Pinterest is arguably the network that started the image-focused trend, so it only makes sense to join this platform. However, unless your business sells or provides something visually interesting (think wedding photographer, clothing designer, home builder etc.) knowing what to pin on your boards can be a challenge.
I love to show how businesses in boring industries are successfully using Pinterest. It just proves that you can be in the most boring industry, but still maintain a great presence on social network.
I decided to find the most boring industry I could think of, and what could be more boring than General Electric? Not much, am I right? To my surprise though, General Electric has one of the best Pinterest accounts I’ve seen. They have everything from customer testimonials to the latest in hospital equipment. They also have, get this, 4,483 followers. Well, 4,484 now that I decided to follow them. That is an amazing following for such a boring industry.
So, should the computer programmers, accountants, and statisticians of the world just not bother with Pinterest? Of course, not. No matter what industry your business is in, you can find a way to work it into Pinterest. It simply requires you to, as the old cliché goes, think outside the box. Here are some board ideas to spark your imagination:
- Team photos – Customers love seeing the faces behind a business. Dedicate a board to candid photos of your team at work or of your office environment.
- Motivation – Pin images of everything that motivates your business and employees. Depending on your industry, sources of motivation can come from far and wide, so get creative.
- Passions – Let people know what your business is interested in besides itself. For instance, do you sponsor an event or support a charity? If so, post pictures which showcase what it’s about.
- Favorite things – Do your team members love a certain type of coffee, restaurant, or TV show? Why not make a board of your favorite things — it’s fun and helps create a sense of connection and familiarity between you and your customers.
- Create a visual history – Use pictures to tell the story of your company or product evolution.
- Infographs – If you explain things, provide data, or relay general information to consumers, you have the perfect opportunity to create and pin infographs.
Naturally, some of your images will link back to others’ sites, but try to make any visuals related to your business link to one of your own web properties (for lead and conversion purposes). So, instead of uploading pictures directly to Pinterest, post them on your website or blog and then pin them to one of your boards.
Embrace Facebook’s New Timeline Layout
Recognizing the power of visuals, Facebook recently updated its business pages with a new timeline layout, which is very picture oriented. Many social media managers grumbled about the changes, but it’s time to let go of the past and take advantage of the marketing opportunities the new layout presents.
Start by choosing an eye-catching cover photo (it’s much larger now), and consider getting creative by overlaying it artistically with your profile photo. Also, utilize the new “star” and “pin” features that allow you to showcase an image larger and higher on your page.
One of my favorite companies to follow on Facebook is Ford Motor Company. I have never owned a Ford in my life, and as of now have no intention to, but their Facebook timeline can make any car lover drool. Check out a few examples:
They are using pictures of gorgeous classic cars and engaging with their audience by asking them to guess what model and year the car in the picture is.
Another great thing that they do that every business should be allowing (and heavily monitoring) is allowing fans to upload their own photos. Allow me to show you another example of how Ford Motor Company does this:
This is such a great way to garner fan participation. Your company doesn’t have to sell cars, but If you are selling a physical product, allow your customers to upload a photo of them with your product.
Additionally, try to incorporate an image with every post. It’s widely known that postings with pictures get more attention than those with just words — people have a lot of feed to scroll through and images are simply more noticeable.
So, no matter what you post, include a complementary image, and when providing a link, use a thumbnail image if possible.
Don’t Forget about YouTube
Visuals don’t just refer to still images, they include videos too, and for video, YouTube is still king. There are all types of videos businesses can make, and it helps to create all kinds. Some video types you can film are:
- Product demonstrations
- How-to videos
- Explanation of Business process
- Entertainment (just for laughs)
- Success stories
- And more
What’s great about videos is people love sharing them, so they appear all over social networks and are even embedded onto blogs and websites. All of this creates endless opportunities for exposure.
It’s true, Twitter is more about quick blurbs and witty one-liners, but you can still post twitpics. The only challenge is making your description enticing enough to encourage users to actually click on the link to your picture. However, if your followers come to recognize you as someone who regularly posts cool pics, they will learn to click on them automatically.
Here is an example of a picture we tweeted asking our followers which web browser they use:
Another way to make your Twitter profile more visually appealing is by using the customization features on your Twitter page. Not everyone who follows you will explore your page, but for those who do, you can impress them with a custom background that speaks of your brand and encourages conversions.
You can either use Instagram as its own separate social network, or incorporate it into your Twitter strategy (or both). It’s easy to include a quick link to Instagram on your tweets, and once there, visitors can scroll through your whole portfolio of pictures, which creates potential for longer engagement (yeah!)
Also, it provides a quick, off the cuff way to update your followers. For instance, if you’re at an out of town work convention, take a few pics of the people or scenery, edit them and apply a cool filter in Instagram, and then tweet a link to the picture. That way, you can stay connected even when away from the office and without a computer.
This time I just happened to stumble on General Electric’s Instagram account. I don’t know if it’s something in the water at GE or if their social media team is just that amazing, but their Instagram account, much like their Pinterest account is perfect! I decided to take a few screen shots to show a few examples. I found everything from the London bridge to pictures of pretty sweet airplanes.
Arm everyone on your team with a smartphone and an Instagram account for a non-stop stream of unique content. Not only do these spontaneous pictures get more attention, they say more about your brand than what’s capable with mere words.
Visuals are fun, simple, and provide quick insight. Keep in mind, utilizing them is useful not only when interacting on major social networks, but any time you are connecting with consumers. So, when you send out a marketing email, post a blog entry, or something similar, use the visual strategies mentioned above. Also, don’t be afraid to recycle images from one network to another since not all of your followers will participate in every platform.
Do you have any other ideas about how to creatively use visuals in social media marketing? Share below.