Saturday, September 22, 2012

Integrate Visual Content Into Your Social Media Strategy


Here are five steps for your business to join the visual revolution online:

1) Brainstorm Ways To Communicate Your Messages Through Imagery

What is your business trying to say via its social media presence? What actions do you want potential and current customers to take?
If you’re a plumber, you’re likely interested in using social media to drive referrals when someone is building a home or needs a repair. You might also want to remind customers about plumbing-related issues and worthwhile check-ups to build loyalty and drive future business.


2) Put Processes In Place To Make Imagery Possible

Once you’ve brainstormed the types of images that will help tell your business’s story and generate engagement with customers, lay the framework for integrating imagery into your social media strategy.
The first area to tackle is how to build your business’ image archive. Does your business have a digital camera that can be used on a regular basis? Does your business need to hire a pro to help start the image inventory, especially if the quality of the photos is important in your field? (For example, a fashion designer or jewelry maker will want much higher quality photos than an accountant showing images of tax forms). Will you purchase photos from image galleries or ask others to reuse their photos?
A second area to focus on is what capabilities your business has available to enhance, build and format images so that they’re successful in social media. Does your business need to hire a graphic designer, or do you or someone on your staff have the time and skills to handle such work?

3) Determine The Best Ways To Integrate Imagery

Imagery should be used to enhance social media channels that you are already using, as well as to introduce your brand to new sites like Pinterest and Instagram that are more exclusively image-focused.
On a channel like Facebook, take typical content like text updates and links and think of ways you can enhance those posts with imagery. Try out a few approaches to see what your business’ followers cling to – you might start with trying one-off images of a new store display, or a photo album featuring a variety of products.
See what garners the most likes, comments and shares, and what is more often ignored. Also note that shorter descriptions of photos result in higher engagement rates, according to research.

4) Maximize The Relevance Of Your Business’ Content On Each Site

Whatever social networks you engage, learn how it works so your business can take advantage of all the work you’re putting in. You want to ensure you don’t stick out by failing to know how to participate.
• For example, on Pinterest, adding prices to photo descriptions creates a banner alongside the image, so that followers can easily see the cost of the products you’re featuring. But avoid missteps like posting too much of your own content too quickly (Pinterest will delay your future posts) or adding a PinIt button alongside a Flash photo album on your website, since users won’t be able to pin the content! • On Facebook, make sure you choose a great cover photo to promote your business and size your logo to fit correctly. But make sure you meet Facebook guidelines, which state that a cover photo should not include price or purchase information, a call to action, or contact information.

5) Solicit Customers To Participate By Sharing Photos Online

Find ways to encourage customers to share original photo content related to your business: it not only engages them, but provides you with new imagery to use. Some ideas include:
• Hosting a contest promoted on Facebook that solicits photos of customers using your business’ products
• Enabling your business’ Pinterest board to allow your favorite or most active fans to pin pictures to complement your own content. (Additionally, take advantage of a tool that allows you to track which photos on your website are being shared on Pinterest, so you know what’s resonating: visit http://pinterest.com/source/YourWebsite.com/ – replacing “YourWebsite.com” with your website URL).
• On Instagram, encourage followers to use your business’ hashtag when posting images related to your product as an incentive to receive a free gift with their purchase.

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