It’s time to pay attention to visual social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram.
Of the social media platforms, Pinterest is the 2nd largest driver of website traffic worldwide (according to Shareaholic) and Instagram users engage 10 times more than users on Facebook and Twitter (according to this Business Insider article).
We all know that a picture speaks a thousand words and so this high engagement with imagery doesn’t apply to these visual social networks alone. Images on Facebook generate 53% more likes than the average post and tweets with images get 55% more leads (according to this and this Hubspot article, respectively).
For even more compelling statistics, such as “94% more total views on average are attracted by content containing compelling imagesthan content without images,” read this.
The proven fact is, using images rather than text alone, gives us a chance to engage more people in what we have to offer them.
But my business isn’t visual!
The power of the visual comes down to showing your work, rather than telling people about it – letting it speak for itself. This can allow for a more authentic interaction with your audience where, rather than having to convince or give them a hard sell, you’re letting them into your world and all the wonderful things they can engage with there. Including your products and services.
So how do you get involved when your business isn’t necessarily visual? For creative professionals, using visuals is a no-brainer. Photographers, artists, culinary artists (aka chefs, bakers, caterers), designers etc. – these people have it easy.
But what about you? What about the homeopaths, the coaches, the counsellors, the massage therapists, the naturopaths, the nutritionists, the osteopaths, the psychologists … and all the other wellness practitioners? The people whose work is often very private, taking place behind closed doors? How do you let people into your world through pictures?
You get creative. You take a close look at the details of your business and weave a narrative around them. You elevate the every day. You tell stories with pictures.
What does that look like in practice?
First, a quick note about platforms
We have some tips and examples to get you started but, before we get into them, it’s worth pointing out that we’re not encouraging you to go right ahead and set up a Pinterest and/or Instagram page this very minute.
We want to ensure that you’re establishing a social media presence that is sustainable for you to manage. It’s better to use one platform well than to be present on several but without any consistent activity and engagement.
The point that we do want to push today is that visuals are key. Whether you post them on Instagram and Pinterest or on Facebook and Twitter.
5 tips for using visuals in social media, even if you aren’t a visual business
1. Show don’t tell
Challenge yourself. For all the messages you want to convey on social media, consider whether there’s a way to show rather than tell. How could you illustrate the message?
Perhaps you’re promoting an upcoming event – what visual symbols come to mind when you think of the event’s subject matter? Does the event to do with a particular season, a particular audience, or a particular place? Could you take or source a relevant picture? (when sourcing from other people’s images, make sure you have permission to use them and adhere to how the image owners want to be credited).
If you’re sharing some press coverage or an article you’ve written, and there are no related images, could you pick a compelling quote from the text and style it in a visually interesting way? You can make use of apps such as Word Swag, Studio, Canva or Paper. See our post on “Pictures with words” for more on this.
Perhaps you’re notifying people about your hours – could you take an interesting image of the place where you practice?
What other business tasks could you take interesting pictures of? To inspire you to look at the mundane in a whole new way, we recommend visiting the Happy Mundane Instagram feed.
A photo posted by Jonathan Lo (@happymundane) on Apr 12, 2015 at 9:32am PDT
2. Think beyond the photograph
When we talk of visuals, we don’t just mean photographs. There’s also lists and checklists; doodles and drawings; infographics and diagrams; styled quotes and quotes overlaid over photographs; videos created from still photos (easily done with the app Flipagram); presentations (upload yours to SlideShare and then share it via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest).
You can do a lot of these things yourself. Take the time to give them a go and explore some of the many apps available that make this easier and more accessible for you. We’ve mentioned a few above and we regularly add our favourites to our ‘Resources’ page. You may also want to commission a graphic designer to create original visual content for you. Our images package is an option too.
A photo posted by Lulu Kitololo (@lulukitololo) on May 14, 2015 at 9:21am PDT
3.Use your words
As much as this is all about visuals, words still matter too. You might have actual words on your visuals. The thing with great visual content is that it gets shared so, if you’ve created original visuals, you may want to include your URL or social ‘ID’ on the actual image, so that people can follow the trail back to you.
Whether or not you have words on your visuals, don’t neglect the captions that go along with them. Here is your opportunity to:
Explain the image – if necessary
Add appropriate hashtags, to enable your ideal clients and customers to find you. Perhaps it’s your profession (e.g. #homeopathy), or the problem you’re solving (e.g. #stressrelief), your particular niche/audience (e.g. #athletes), or your location (e.g. #oxford) and more. Hashtags are very powerful and the convention works across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and beyond.
Mention other people and businesses, if relevant. You can tag these people on most social networks by putting an ‘@‘ symbol before their name. It’s good to mention people as a sign of appreciation and respect, as well as to open a conversation which can lead to more engagement with them and their networks.
Include a call to action. It’s important to do this as most of us like to be given direction. Avoid coming across all sales pitchy although, occasionally, it might be appropriate to push a particular offer. If that’s the case, it’s best to try and use the same kind of language you would if you were speaking to somebody, face-to-face. When you’re not promoting something, your call to action could be a simple question, encouraging people to engage further with you. For example, “what do you think?” or “do you agree?” or “what’s your take on this?”.
Insert a link, if relevant. Which ties in nicely with the next tip…
A photo posted by Tracy Karkut-Law (@tracykarkutlaw) on Mar 9, 2015 at 10:43am PDT
4. Entice people
Don’t give everything away. Intrigue people enough for them to want more. After all, a big objective of your social media activity is to drive people to your website (aka your online home) and/or to your physical place of business, if you have one. Get them excited and lead them to where they can find out and get more. This applies for visual posts as well as posts without them.
A photo posted by @theearthoracle on Aug 27, 2014 at 8:40am PDT
5. Be selective
Once you get into the hang of using visuals, it can be easy to get carried away. We’ve seen people posting images of anything and everything they see and curating cheesy, low quality images from others. All that you post reflects on you and your business so, always use adequate discrimination. Ensure that images are always of a high quality and constantly put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Is the visual that you’re posting useful or inspiring? Will it help people to get to know you and build their trust and confidence in you? Will it support and enhance your brand? If it’s not adding something, it’s likely taking away because, adding to the noise puts people off. Be discerning.