The right kind of imagery is the difference between social media graphics and ads that convert, and others that make little or no impact. So you want to select
image that sells. You must select images that sell.
They can also turn customers away if the images aren’t handled just the right way. We’ve all seen it. Blank, glossy eyes, stretched smiles, forced, friendly interactions. The telltale signs of a stock photo. Over the years, people have become professional stock spotters, and they typically don’t like them.
The thing is, there are times when stock photography is necessary, and with a few tips and tricks, you can disassociate your photos from the generic smiling businesswoman standing in front of a conference table.
For successful visual marketing, it’s important to have the skills to know how to choose images that will sell and convert.
To help you out, we put together this handy guide with many useful tips that will help train your eye and transform you into a visual marketing pro.
Select image … never compromise on quality
Low quality, pixelated images are a big no-no. Many viewers will click off of a web page if the images are grainy. Make sure your images are clean, crisp, in focus, and have a good resolution (images online should be no less than 72 dpi). As well as our selection of free, high-quality stock photography to choose from, there’s plenty of great options out there that won’t require you to spend a cent.
JQuery image picker … evoke strong emotions
Humans are emotional creatures. A great way to connect people to your brand is through striking an emotional chord. The emotion you portray should be the one you want your brand to make people feel. If they feel something towards your brand, they’ll build a stronger connection.
An ad drawing attention to the poverty other countries face
This image plays on irony and empathy. You’re curious why a man in the middle of a desert would be holding a glass of beer, and when you read the text, you make the connection. You feel empathy for him, and even a little guilt about drinking your beer while he has little fresh water.
Utilize hashtags and popular search terms
This is one of the most important things you can do with your images. If you optimize your images, you can create more traffic to your website through search engines (like Google Images). It’s almost like a hashtag in a sense and can be done rather easily.
Image picker HTML … images express the message without text
The images you choose should lend well to your message. Make sure they support what you’re trying to say, whether that’s visually representing your message, or acting as an accent.
Audience should see them in the design
If you’re targeting millennials, don’t show images of middle-aged people. Show the people you want to have as customers. Put them in situations that your viewers can relate to, and try to make them feel as real as possible.
Experiment with Instagram
Instagram can be your best friend. Snap a quick photo with your phone (the quality is often as good as some digital cameras) and post it online. Take a few more seconds to create an interesting composition, slap a filter on it, and use a few hashtags and you’re on your way to tons of likes.
There are a lot of brands that are heavily active on platforms like Instagram, and they have a huge following, like Topshop. Not everything they post is necessarily a product they sell or related to the company, but it still fits in with the overall theme they have going on.
The Instagram aesthetic is incredibly popular and can be found in a lot of images taken with professional grade cameras. They’re very easy to construct and edit, and you can see some good examples of the imagery above.
Visual content should always have a purpose
People can smell a generic photo from a mile away. Make sure you’re not just using an image for the sake of using an image. Sometimes you’re strapped for time and can’t shoot your specific image, but if you have to use a generic one put it into context.
Here’s a good example of what could have been a generic ad for prescription medicine. A blank staring pose and empty frame, yet it was customized just enough to pull it out of that generic, medicine feel.
Jazz up your images
Don’t feel constrained to the image you have. You can do whatever you want with it. Try cropping it, adding text and filters, and adjusting the colors. Feel free to utilize the image in whatever way works best for you.
This is a good example of photo manipulation. This is a little more advanced, but a lot can still be learned from it. Odds are, they had the picture of the goldfish sans helmet. They added in a separate image of the helmet to create one entire image. Feel free to put multiple photos together if it suits your needs.
Here are some examples of adding filters and text, cropping, and changing colors on existing photos to give them a new feel.
Imagery using a punch of color to attract attention
The bright color in this image leads to the freshness of the product as well as the season. It looks pleasant and appetizing and encourages you to visit the market and purchase what you’re seeing.
Choose images that relate to your objective
The things you post personally on social media won’t always be the same as what you post on your business’ social media. It’s important to know where that difference lies to avoid issues.
A brand that relies on humor. And it works.
Taco Bell is very humorous and carefree. They can get away with posting a lot more radical stuff because that is who they are as a brand. Make sure you know what your brand stands for, and reflect that in your social media and imagery.
Tip: Once you decide what kind of images your brand will use, also decide which ones they will avoid.
Here are some things that are good to avoid (unless you’re someone like Taco Bell). If you’re not a liquor brand, you probably don’t want to be posting drinks and parties. Keep it professional and keep ‘rants’ on your accounts.
Engage audience by getting them to generate photos with your product
Another instance where Instagram can be your best friend (along with other social media platforms). You can encourage people to snap their photos and post them online. Give them a unique hashtag to use, and you’ll have people from all over stockpiling images for your brand.
An example of a brand that posts user generated photos on Instagram
Benefit Cosmetics often features people who use their products on their Instagram page, and that’s a great way to get people to build a relationship with your brand. Essentially they’re doing the work for you; you just have to sift through the images and decide what ones you want to feature yourself (but always be sure to mention the original owner).
Select image … find creative ways to optimize images
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so save your breath when you could use an image. If you don’t need to spell something out for someone, don’t. Choose to do it visually.
Here’s a good example of communicating a message visually. You know exactly what Nikon is trying to showcase: facial recognition. The ad shows different faces being highlighted humorously.
Choose photos that provide a feeling without needing to be explained
In these images, you get the message without seeing words. If you see a blazing red chili pepper, you know it’s hot (the same with flames). You see the images and understand the feeling they’re giving off without it being spelled out for you.
Create a sense of energy with action images
Show action in your photos; it excites the viewer. It doesn’t matter what the people in the photos are doing as long as it relates to your brand or message, it could be talking, eating, dressing, shopping, etc.
You can feel the movement in this image even though it’s still. The energy creates an emotion and fuels the message underneath. It is so much more powerful due to the action, and wouldn’t have the same effect if they chose to show the impact of two vehicles another way.
Get your viewers excited by choosing images that show action.
All of these images contain action, yet they all show it differently. Some of it is fun and lighthearted, some are intense and adrenaline filled, while some are relaxed and playful. Action can help enforce the mood and emotion you’re hoping to create in your imagery.
The bottom line
We often talk about purple cows; about why we need to stand out from the crowd, and why it’s important being different. Some people make it their quest to be different.
It’s so much easier to be remembered when you’re different, it’s true, as a person, and as a business. But, being different is not it, when it comes to marketing and business.
If you look at a specific group of people, the individuals inside the group will try to be different from people outside the group. But, at the same time, they understand that they belong to the group. So, it means that they’re different than the rest of us, but they’re similar to the people inside the group they belong to.
Look at the people in a band. Are they that different from the other people in the band? They’re not identical. No, they’re not. But, you can probably see the same features. They’re different from you, but not that different from the other people in the band.
Being different is more important than ever. But, it’s still not it.
Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman says that 95 percent of our decision-making takes place in the subconscious mind. This means that most of the time, we don’t make rational choices. What you should be focusing on is not being different, but the story of how to create difference for your customers.
That is creating visual content and selecting images that will be remembered because they are so unique.
Need some help in improving the creativity of you and your staff? Creative ideas to help the differentiation with your toughest competitors?
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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More reading on creativity from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:
12 Successful Ways to Select Image That Sells