Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr … even Foursquare, Twitter, and Google Plus. Guess what all these social media sites have in common? They’re all highly visual sites. Each of these social media sites highlights visual content in some way.
Visual-based social media, like photographs, graphic images, and videos, is becoming a highly useful tool for small businesses to use. Visual media is actually pretty easy to create, too. You don’t have to be a professional photographer, and you don’t have to use fancy equipment to get your visual point across to customers.
Here are five tips to help you get started making great visual-based social media:
1. Show off your stuff.
If you are a small business selling a product, this part is easy. Simply take some photos of your products, and post them in the social networks that most of your customers use (most likely, that’s Facebook and Twitter).
Don’t think of these images as some sort of extended product catalog. Instead, share images of new products that you’re excited about. Post the photo, and write a paragraph about the product, too. Share WHY you’re excited about it. Sharing that enthusiasm helps get your loyal customers excited too – especially if they can SEE the thing you are excited about.
Not a product-selling business? That’s ok – images work here, too. For example, if you work for a non-profit homeless shelter, take some photographs of your “product” — the homeless shelter.
2. Show off your Staff.
This one’s scary to some, but so helpful. Take some pictures of your staff, and post those photos to your social networks. Most likely, somewhere in your business plan is the idea of creating ongoing relationships with repeat customers, right? One way to do that is to help your customers connect with your business. No one likes to “friend” a coffeeshop … but people DO like to “friend” Jenny, who’s really nice and makes that amazing soy milk latte for them every Tuesday.
See the idea here? Show your customers the friendly faces behind your business. That helps customers connect with your staff, and therefore, your business. One caveat here – no posed “suit and tie” photos! Also, no “T-shirt and beer” photos either (well, unless you own a sports bar).
3. Get Close.
Here’s an important tip. You don’t need to use fancy-schmansy cameras – your iPhone will work fine. But please DO get up close to the person or product you are photographing! Make sure to fill the frame with the image. In many cases, images uploaded to social media sites will be viewed in a small, thumbnail-sized box first. So the subject of your photograph needs to be clearly visible, even at a small size.
So fill the frame, and don’t be afraid to get up close.
4.Great Lighting is Key
Get the best lighting you possibly can! You don’t have to buy expensive studio lighting systems to achieve better lighting (though it certainly doesn’t hurt). Just make sure to use whatever lighting you have to your advantage.
To get better “natural” lighting, try these simple tips: turn on the overhead lights before you take a photo, even if the room you’re in seems brightly lit. Make sure the light is behind you when you take a photo. If you are outside, make sure you (and your camera) have your back to the sun. This way, your subject will be well-lit. If you are inside, put your back to a brightly-lit window. Move a floor lamp closer to the subject.
5. Make your Photos Helpful to Customers
In general, use these visual sharing opportunities to be helpful to your customers and clientele. “Being helpful” might mean any number of things. It could mean sharing a photograph of a new sales rep. If your building has had a recent addition, make sure to to share that with customers. Some companies share photos of how their product works, or how to fix a problem.
Another way to think about being helpful is this – just the act of sharing photographs of products, services, and staff is helpful. You are visually showing your customers the who and what of your organization. When those customers come visit your business, they will already know who to ask for, and what they’re looking for, because you have already shared that information with them. You have made their task (i.e., buying something from your business) that much easier.
So dust off that iPhone lens, get your camera out of the bag on the shelf, and start sharing visually with your customers. Follow these simple tips, and you can start helping your customers and client succeed. And you can start tomorrow.
Editor’s Note: This article is an extension of David Lee King’s recent interview with Inc.