The swift rise in smartphones, digital photos and the ability to instantly share images has put photography at the forefront of social media and online marketing. When did you last read a blog post or article online with nothing to look at? A simple page of words…When was the last time you engaged with something on Facebook without an image?
With online presence in today’s society playing such a huge role in the successes of businesses, we can’t ignore the growth of photography in online marketing. Facebook alone has over 1,550,000,000 users and Instagram, a relative newcomer, has overtaken Twitter with 400,000,000+ users. (Nov 2015 statista.com)
Most businesses will have a website, many a blog and be active on at least one if not several social media platforms.
Humans are naturally visual creatures, the photos used online are often our first introduction to prospective clients, customers and business associates – What are you doing with photographs on these platforms? How are you using photography to market your business online?
With the rise of the visual culture we live in, it is becoming increasingly important to use image-based marketing strategies for your website and online content.
Tweets that include images get 18% more click, 89% more favourites & 150% more retweets on Twitter than plain text tweets. (source: buffer)
Facebook posts that include images get 53% more likes, 104% more comments than those that are just words. (Source: Mike Gingerich)Two posts on our own Facebook page are great examples of this; on the left a text online update that reached a measly 77 people compared to the one with images on the right that reached 1,049.
Images and videos are quickly becoming the most effective way to communicate online. Why? They increase visibility get people to talk about your business.
Pages with images or video draw, on average, 94% more views than their text-only counterparts. (source)Photos do a better job of telling stories, conveying emotion, selling products and services. We all know the saying “a picture speaks a 1000 words…” Research has shown that the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text and that 93% of all human communication is visual. (source)Using social media to market your business is all about keeping current. In the 3rd Quarter of 2015 there were 1,007,000,000 daily active users on Facebook worldwide (Nov 2015 statista.com). It’s where our clients hang out so why wouldn’t we?
But how do we make ourselves and our businesses stand our from the other 1,006,999,999 users…?
Four ways to rock your online social marketing with photography
1. Use photos to… be creative
In order to make our brands stand out in the online marketplace we need to be different to our competitors. Do your company website and social platforms use the same photos that you see all over the internet?
Visual platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are more popular with consumers than ever before, providing brands with plenty of opportunities to tell compelling stories to engage their followers. Don’t just ‘shoot’ your products or your staff. Style them, tell a story give viewers a reason to click, to like, to share and to talk about your business.
Starbucks is a great example of a brand who creatively use photography inter online marketing
What do they sell?
The simple answer might be coffee.
With the photography on their social media platforms they are selling a lifestyle. An aspiration…
Dates with friends, lazy summer afternoons in the park, leisurely weekend breakfasts with the papers, a bit of adventure, freshness, creativity and a little bit of Christmas love…!
Starbucks use images on social media to engage in conversation with their customer. Share a photo of a Starbucks coffee on Instagram, hashtag it & they will like, share and comment. Their creative use of photography opens up a two way dialog with their client.
But that’s Starbuck, a large, multi-national corporation. What if it’s me, myself and I?
Be creative, do something different, tell a story with photos, use Starbucks principle of engaging with their customer through their photos…
And carry on reading…
2. Use photos to… know your style
Does the style of the photos that you post online compliment your brand?
Your brand attributes will guide you towards a particular visual style for your business, it’s essential that you bring these elements into your photography. A friendly, fun, lively, contemporary business… Do the photos you post on social platforms reflect this?
Bright colours, for example, photographed on a white background can help create a fun, bold and adventurous brand. Think Apple…
Continuity is key. Visual content shared online is a great way of communicating with customers and potential clients – and one of the the best ways to build these relationships is to be consistent! Consistent in terms of sharing content regularly but also consistent in the look and feel of your photography.
When someone scrolls through your Facebook page or instagram feed there needs to be a connection between the images and your brand. A consistency in style, in the lighting you use and in the way you edit the photos.
3. Use photos to… personalise your brand
People like to connect with people, people do business with people. Consumers like the story attached to the thing that you’re selling.
Sharing photos of you and your team on your website, blog or Facebook page can go a long way towards humanising your brand. The team meeting on a Monday morning, a staff event, the work’s Christmas party. If you have a product consider ways you and your team can interact with that product. Illustrate the positive impact the brand has on you and your team’s lives and consumers will want to be a part of it too.
I do recommend using a professional photographer to take photos for you.
A pro has the expertise in working with light, the artistic eye and knowledge about how to position you to capture your best angle, the ability to catch the natural, spontaneous expressions and the skill in visual storytelling that will make your photos shine. The photos will have the authenticity of being real people – your employees – but with the quality of a professional photo.This is a client I worked with earlier in the year. Established 40+ years, they had little or no online presence.
A family run vehicle repair centre offering a personalised service – they wanted their online marketing to reflect this.
We used ‘real’ people – their staff team – and approached it in a documentary and photojournalistic style shooting them in-situ, in their workshops, in their overalls with the cars & vehicles they service. Over a day and a half we created a library of 600+ images for the to use to engage with their clients on an ongoing basis.
You want to personalise your brand but can’t afford a pro photographer at the moment…?
Here are three quick tips when shooting your own photos for use online:
1 Find the best light! This is probably natural light, position your subject by an open door or next to a window. If outside try to find some shade to avoid the harsh, contrasty effect of bright sunlight.
2 Remove distracting elements. Before you shoot, have a look through the viewfinder, is there anything that shouldn’t be there? A dirty cup on the desk, a coat on the back of a chair?
3 Think about composition. Try different angles. Shoot from above, from the side, close up, further back, but always, always remember tip number one – find the best light!
On a personal level…
So what was one of our most viewed Facebook posts this summer?
No, not a gorgeous bride, a stunning sunset or a captivating portrait… It was this:AJ and I, with our cameras, shot by a friend – seen by 1,200+ people, liked by 56. It was personal, it humanised our brand and people liked it!
4. Use photos to be original (AKA avoid stock)
The photography you use online, whether on your website, blog on social media platforms, should be about you, your business, your service, your products and giving your clients a little peep into your world. Stock photography won’t help you achieve authenticity. If you don’t show real people working at your company, how do consumers know you really stand behind your business?
Does your business website use the same photos that you see all over the web? Are you using the same stock photos as your competitors?
Or are you doing something different?
There is a fabulous blog post by Hubspot “13 Stock Photos to Never Use in Your Marketing”
To stand out from other businesses within your genre, you need to use photos that are different, that make you stand out, that make you individual… Create your own!
If you must use stock, here are three places I recommend trying:
And if you do use stock photography, get your rights right…
… Do not, ever, ‘right click save as’!
Just because an image is on Google doesn’t mean you have the right to use it for your online marketing. Simply crediting a photo to someone who hasn’t given you permission won’t necessarily cover you. And don’t forget to check your usage requirements, what can and can’t you do with the photo, some licences allow you to use online, some in print, some Worldwide, some just in the UK – if in doubt, ask!
We wrote a whole blog post about photography licences, you can read it here.
And here is a very useful link to a Do’s and don’ts guide to help you use images online correctly.
So, in summary, using photography to build you brand and market your business online:
Use photos to…
- Be creative
- Know your style
- Personalise your brand
- and be original
We recently did our own piece of market research about business professionals attitudes towards LinkedIn Profile photos, you can read our blog post and access the results here.