7 Ways to Drive Engagement with Images

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Images, especially photographs, are 2012's social media darling, as evidenced by Pinterest's meteoric growth. Images are powerful marketing tools because they attract attention, eliminate the need to compose text, and can appear in places that texts can't.

When integrated into your social media, images drive engagement across a variety of platforms, especially Facebook (as shown by a recent study study of 1.3 million Facebook posts conducted by Dan Zarrella) . Here are seven great ways you can use images to engage your prospects, customers, and fans.

7 Ways to Drive Engagement with Images

  1. Show, Don't Tell. While small children are encouraged to use words to explain what they mean, it's not always possible across all social media platforms. In these cases, an image or photograph can convey what you can't say in text. Facebook's cover photo is a key example of a social media tool that only enables images. Oreo has been using their Facebook cover photo to celebrate customers for a while. Now they're also effectively incorporating their 100th birthday.

  2. Show Your Product in Action. Skip the boring stock photographs and suppliers' images because they make your offering look exactly like your competitor's. Instead, show your products in action so consumers can easily see what's unique about your brand. Target, for example, has well-known stylists create looks for them on Tumblr using various Target products.

  3. Teach Customers How to Use Your Products. Consumers often look for additional content when they research products. Consider teaching them how to use your products. Retailers have done this for years to entice consumers in terms of in-store demos and samples. Whole Foodsdoes a great job of using images and recipes on their Pinterest page.

  4. Put Your Customers Center Stage. Use photographs with your customers as well as your employees to show prospects that anyone can use your products, not just specially trained actors. Here's how Philadelphia-based retailer Jomarincorporated customers into their images on Facebook and their website.

  5. Simplify Data and Related Information. Infographics are social-sharing bait that visually convey otherwise hard-to-digest information, specifically facts and educational content. B2B marketers often use this format to show their knowledge and attract social shares. The infographic below provides a checklist while showing readers how to create an A-list blog.

  6. Turn Your Words into Images. Organizations often struggle with legal issues related to the use of photographs, even if the photos were originally created specifically for them! One workaround is to create images from relevant quotes and the like. ESPNhas used this strategy to their advantage. Note that they have integrated their brand into their word blocks.

  7. Invite Customers to Share Their Photographs. Expand your image offering with customer submissions. While only a small percentage of your customers will participate, you only need a few good ones to make this work. Don't forget to verify that the person submitting the photo has the right to do so, especially if the photograph includes children. Ford posts customer photographs that show pride in their cars.

Once you have figured out how you're going to use images, be sure to follow these three tips to ensure genuine customer engagement and interaction.

  1. Brand Your Images. In addition to ensuring that your brand is integrated into your image and readily identifiable, you should watermark your graphics and include a URL so that no matter where your images are posted, viewers can easily find your website.

  2. Add Social Sharing Buttons. Make sure that your visitors can easily distribute your visual content to their family and friends. Don't forget comments, pins, and email shares. To this end, it's important to only post images you have the rights to use.

  3. Incorporate a Call-to-Action (Where Appropriate). Integrate a contextually relevant request to get your visitor to take the next action towards purchasing your product. While minimizing the number of steps between your image and the sale is critical, understand that on social media platforms, it's best to send prospects to your page on that particular social network before trying to get them to leave the network and go to your site.

Since humans are visual beings who are attracted to images, it's critical to assess how you can integrate visual content into your social media marketing to increase engagement. And once you've gotten prospects to take an initial action, make sure you respond to them! That's true engagement.

How have you used images and photographs in your social media? What were the results? Did you encounter any obstacles? If so, what were they?

Happy marketing,

Heidi Cohen