Reinforce your social media brand with visual elements

A guest blog with Cyndee Woolley, APR, an author and public relations consultant. Email questions to or visit

The power of a strong visual element
Consumers are 80% more likely to interact with a Twitter post that has a photo attached than straight text. Often times, the social Facebook photo albums that I share for clients receive a much higher interaction rate than straight text posts. These visual elements are so appealing because they engage our brain and start to tell the story of your brand before you say a word.

Ideally, the elements of your visual storytelling should include five key messages:

1. Your Vision
Photos and videos should share the big picture of your ideal vision, not the tools that are going to get you there. Working with a client who wanted to appeal to families and children with fun activities, we did an inventory of their marketing photos. Most of the photos were of their activity stations – no kids, just the activity stations.

The average person likely didn’t understand what was in the photo and had no reason to engage. However, we switched the photos to happy children engaging with the activity stations and saw an immediate improvement in their engagement.

2. Establish Credibility
With the increased transparency and record keeping of the digital age, it is easier for watchdog groups to sort through your past and call you out for decisions that they disagree with like former Mozilla CEO, Brendan Eich’s, who was ousted in 2014 for a campaign contribution that he made in 2008.

While watchdog groups will take the time to sort through your past, the average consumer who is overwhelmed with content and short on time won’t. In seconds, your visual aids have to establish credibility in your brand.

For example, do you have a vision of health? Your photo stream should include plenty of healthy, active people making smart choice. If your photo albums have people smoking, drinking sodas, or sloppily sitting around desks, you are giving a contradictory message.

While your marketing materials must demonstrate your vision, the truest test of credibility is in the culture of your company – that is creating this brand message. We are seeing more and more companies take decisive action such as healthcare facilities going smoke-free; CVS is ceasing to sell tobacco products this year; and companies like David Lawrence Center are installing vending machines with healthy alternatives on their campuses.

3. Relevance and “What’s in it for me?” (Wiifm)
If you have ever taken a class in sales, you have likely heard the phrase “What’s in it for me?” The concept of Wiifm is that customers don’t buy features, they buy benefits because of how the benefits will make them feel.

In 2013, a study was released on millennials and their preference of microbreweries over larger brands like Budweiser. Initially, marketers thought that this generation was shunning the idea of being associated with brands. But, they were shocked to find that millennials were choosing specific microbrew beers because the brand label became a symbol of how they felt at that time.

As you are sharing videos and photos on your social media accounts, think about the unique emotional benefits that you bring to your customers. How might they wear your brand as a status symbol?

4. Brand Value
Before setting a price structure on any product or service, I encourage small business owners to look at the value of what they provide. Your business model can succeed as a low-price leader, best value, or as a luxury product.

However, the visual story that you present must match up to the brand value and expectations that you expect. If you chose to be a low-price leader, that isn’t an excuse to use sloppy, fuzzy photos. It just means that your photos and videos should incorporate models that are very approachable in generic clothing.

There was a copywriter who was selling a course on how to write sales letters at a very discounted rate. His initial advertisement incorporated beautifully scripted fonts and shades of green – which didn’t elicit any response. After reviewing the ad, he realized that it was a mixed message. He made the new advertisement look “cheap” in comparison by incorporating different fonts and a bright canary yellow color. The “cheap” advertisement sold thousands of copies of his course.

5. Close the Deal
Unless you are a sales person, “closing the deal” can be one of the hardest things about business. People have an inherent fear of rejection and often forget to end the conversations with something like “That is great, how many books would you like to buy?”

Even though websites and social media take some of the face-to-face rejection out of the equation, there is still a fear of being that jerk who is always selling. Ideally, you are creating a mix of content on your social media accounts, which means you are not the jerk.

There are several ways that you can help close the deal in your visual storytelling:
• Always include your website address your original artwork. You can’t claim other people’s photographs, but you can lead people back to your website by incorporating a simple watermark on your images. Similarly, every video should have a logo, website address and phone number included.
• Embed more emotional calls to action as watermarks. Instead of the generic “for more information…” you can include something more specific like “help us support young entrepreneurs in Junior Achievement of SWFL by…”
• Use hashtags (#) to spark conversation and virality. If you’ve watched Fox and Friends in the morning, the opening intro has a sign where the anchors display #BetterWithFriends. It is a visual cue for people to Tweet about their show.
• Visually show customers how they can engage with your brand by including pictures of customers using your mobile optimized website through a smart phone, logging onto a computer, or leaving feedback on Google+.

Important clarification… Just because we discussed five key messages, doesn’t mean that you should include all five in every visual element that you share. It is more important to get one message across correctly than to create confusion with multiple directions.

Remember, your customers have an overwhelming amount of data streaming at them from multiple sources. If you want to be successful in capturing their attention, you have to cut through the clutter faster than ever to show your relevance. With the ability to clearly demonstrate who you are, what you have to offer, and why people should care, you can build a life-long customer.

You can learn more about building your brand in Cyndee Woolley’s SoundviewPro course Building Brand [You].

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