Pictures in Social Media

It has become a standard that pictures in social media content share a great deal, arguably more than other content types. One must only look to the success of Pinterest, or the plethora of cats and meme’s that (annoyingly? I don’t like cats much.) fill our timelines. Or, why Facebook acquired Instagram, CEO Mark Zuckerberg relates below:

For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote. “Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests. -Evelyn Rusli, in “Facebook Buys Instagram for $1 Billion“.

However, it may be a common fallacy that pictures are best. What’s worse, is that pictures are used to merely have a picture as content. Here are some points on using images, some from a webinar I recently listened to, myCMGR Worldwide Edition: Visual Thinkers (feat. John Bell from Social@Ogilvy). They raised some excellent points about using pictures in social media. Here are 5 points to help shape your sharing:

1. Connect with your community.

pictures in social media

One of the most important things to remember is to share things that resonate with your community. If you’re a B2B organization that sells custom programmed software to health care organizations, you are poised to bring value to your client base about your industry, it’s news and trajectory, developments, resources they might find helpful, etc. What is quite attractive is getting the “word out” about your brand by sharing the latest image of “Grumpy Cat”. While it may be quite funny, it likely doesn’t resonate with your demographic. Further, how is it connected to your story, your mission, your passion? That leads to. . .

2. Leave the fluff in the marshmallow jar.

As part of our organizational communication, we desire to have our community share our content to increase brand awareness. However, if it is just the popular stuff that we post that -again- isn’t connected to who we are, or who they are, we’re actually going to decrease our effectiveness. People will think we aren’t listening, or that we don’t have a grasp of either our story or our product/service. Unless you can…

3. Turn the fluff into a relevant part of your effort.

When the lights went out at the super bowl, the NFL floundered to fill the 20 minutes darkness with calm, or at least attention. In people’s lives, this may be a significant event they dialogue about on socia

l media. But a black out at the super bowl may have nothing to do with the food industry as content. OR, it could. oreo super bowl tweet; pictures in social media

The tweet was retweeted seemingly endlessly, as distracted viewers turned to Twitter to figure out what was going on. The tweet is widely regarded as a classic case example of always-on, real time social media marketing. – Jim Edwards, in “13 Execs Are Listed In ‘Creative Credits’ For That Oreo Super Bowl Tweet“.

Turning everyday events into usable content takes a quick eye and wit, and some nimble crafting. In this case, Nabisco had a good team that was following the Super Bowl quite closely, and was able to capitalize on the moment. Used in moderation, this can be quite an effective means to tell your story.

4. Use Pictures that tell your story.

Waffles INC on 5th 2007; pictures in social media

Although this image may not look like much, it was the first location of Waffles, INCaffeinated, a boutique waffle shop outside of the Pittsburgh, PA. When this picture was shared on Facebook, it garnered quite a bit of interaction. The town is small, the owners local, and the executive chef/founder trained under Chef Morimoto in his Philadelphia restaurants. Taken from a Google map street-view still, this picture is the perfect example of the authentic nature of imagery, and what it draws out of people. No meme necessary, just part of you story that people were written into as characters in the narrative. It’s history and connection to those who eat there do all the work.

5. Pictures with questions or fill-in-the-blanks invite conversation.

Putting together an image that asks a question about your products, services, or organization with an image is a great way to engage pictures in social mediafolks. I put this together in about 5 minutes, and will use it on some of our social media platforms to gauge how they’re doing. They can brag about their efforts, share their struggles, or ask questions. It also creates the opportunity for them to talk amongst themselves and work out bugs or best practices. Notice how I added our logo at the bottom; you can also add a URL, email address, or whatever info would be relevant to the post and what it might illicit from your readers/followers/fans. This was created using PicMonkey, although there are many other platforms you could find.

Parting Shot

Be sure that you get permission on copyrighted material! Technically, any meme is illegal if it contains an image created by someone else, or is part of a TV show, character, etc. Be careful what you use. One easy way is take your own pictures. You’re on scene, they’re your products, etc. Take advantage of that! There are resources available like iStock Photos if you need something else, or get creative looking for open source images on Wiki Commons.

So what about you: What have been your success stories with images? Crash and burn mistakes where you learned a great deal?