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Boost Your Online Exposure By Using Pictures - 8/27/2013 -

Boost Your Online Exposure by Using Pictures

There’s no denying that we've become a world of visual consumers — people love pictures. Are you sure you are using that to your best advantage?

By Marsha Friedman

You absolutely must use photographs, videos, and infographics on your website, blog, and social networking accounts. They're what draw users' eyes, and they tend to get shared a lot, which boosts your visibility and gives you a bigger audience.

Our social media strategists ask clients to send as many photographs as possible — of both events related to their business, product, or book as well as photos of a more personal nature, such as vacations. The latter help make you appear more human online, and, as our lead strategist Jeni Hinojosa likes to say, "Humans want to connect with humans."

In the just-published fourth edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, online marketing guru David Meerman Scott has added a new chapter called, "An Image is Worth a Thousand Words." It's full of great tips and new tools for using visual content to build your audience. These are things anyone can do, whether you're an organization with a marketing department (or not) or an individual using social media to generate awareness of your organization’s services, products, or publications.

Here are some of the nuggets of visual wisdom from The New Rules:

  • Use original photographs whenever possible. Using your own images, as opposed to stock images, allows you to show off your unique qualities and better tell your story. In his book, Scott tells the real-life story of Zursun Idaho Heirloom Beans, the first company to offer heirloom beans and unusual legumes to consumers around the world via specialty stores. Many of the beans have a distinctive look; Orca beans, for example, are black and white like killer whales. Scott quotes Allison Boomer, founder of Eco-Conscious Food Marketing, who worked with Zursun on its website: "I was careful about writing the content," she says. "However, it turns out the photos resonated so much more with customers than the text. Zursun has reached an awesome tipping point, for which I give much credit to those glorious bean photos."
  • For fast, artsy photos, try Instagram. The free mobile app allows you to take a photograph and — as of this month — video with your phone, apply an artsy filter, and immediately share it online. "Instagram is so easy!" Scott writes. "It just takes a minute or two to shoot a photo, manipulate it with the filters, and share it with your network." You don't even have to write anything, he notes. Instagram works with iPhones, iPads, and Android mobile devices.
  • Share photos on Pinterest to boost exposure and get more links to your web content. Pinterest is a popular social network that allows you to organize and share visuals on online bulletin boards. You "pin" photographs to your boards, and if people like your content, they can follow you, just as they do on other social networks. And if they click on something pinned to your board, they'll be taken to the original source online. For example, if you share a photo on your blog, someone clicking on that photo will be taken to your blog. People who like something can "repin" it, which grows your audience in the same way as "sharing" on Facebook. Scott suggests making sure you have great visual content on your website that people will want to share, and make it easy for them to do so by adding a "Pin it" button (available free at Pinterest's website for businesses).
  • Make complex data easier to understand with infographics. Infographics are the pie charts and flow charts that make it easier to understand sets of numbers or complicated processes. "An infographic that delivers information in a useful way is highly valuable to buyers," Scott says. "It may also be shared via social networks, including Pinterest." Marketing software company HubSpot offers a free template for use with PowerPoint; you'll also find free resources at Piktochart.

If you're not using plenty of visuals in your online content, you're missing out on lots of opportunities. Remember to use original photos whenever possible, and try some of the newer tools, such as Instagram and Pinterest. Don't forget to incorporate short videos and infographics that people can easily share.

MarshaFriedman is CEO of the public relations firm, EMSI.


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