Social apps get the picture for marketing opportunities
Never underestimate the power of an army of mobile phones to help transform your communications program.
Business communicators know that the best written copy still won't have the same impact as a photo. Studies have shown that images increase readability in press releases, blog posts and across social media. Online marketers are also finding that in social platforms, users are more likely to read, like or share stories or posts that include an image.
Using social apps has more potential than just randomly splashing images into your marketing program. It gives you the unique ability to perform every stage of the communications process -- research, plan, implement and evaluate. Use social apps strategically to help you create and execute a thoughtful approach.
Strategies that snap
Let's say you've logged onto an app like Instagram. How can you use it to further your business? Here are some easy strategies to follow:
Find fans -- Search and follow people who already use your product or service and shared their experience. Connect with users who are not yet customers but who demonstrate similar interests. You are beginning the process of creating a community of people who are already raving fans and cultivating those who might soon join their ranks.
Conduct a search for hashtags -- Think keywords or key phrases. In apps like Twitter or Instagram, this can be a great source of market research. For many users, you aren't just following pictures, you are following their lives.
Follow and connect -- In social lexicon, you follow to connect. When you find people who meet your criteria, follow them. Don't just stop there, like some of their photos that showcase or complement your services, comment on their blog posts with great reviews of yours or complementary products. That might encourage them to submit more.
Tell your story with photos -- How did your business start? Who are the key people who drive the vision and culture? What are your founding beliefs and principles? Find clever ways to tell these stories with photos and raise your brand awareness.
Document your news -- When you have announcements, use photos to share them with the online community. This is the ultimate show and tell platform. Use it to announce and brag.
Promote your products -- Showcase your new products or services with photos. If you are a coffee shop rolling out your new flavors of the season, make a splash with photos of the drinks and the baristas who brew them.
Introduce the team -- Photos of team members behind the scenes can help us get to know them and your company better. Here's the new IT guy who keeps our website humming and a few fun facts about him. We're bonding. Help us get to know you, so we can like you better.
Unleash the team -- Turn your team into instant reporters by encouraging them to share the good news about your company. What do they love most about working there? Let's share it with our own unique photos.
Promote your events -- From community volunteering to the anniversary celebration, get the word out with your photos. Your customers might not want to read daily versions of your press release, but fun and creative photos give you an excuse to keep your events top of mind.
Show off your awards - You won a coveted award? That's a great excuse for a photo. Look beyond the typical grip and grin award shots. Why not take photos of what you did that made you so special. You might even take photos of the team hoisting or having fun with the award itself. Try and inject a dash of personality. Help us see why it's a big deal.
A day in the life - What's a typical day like for your team? Choose a random day and have your employees showcase the best parts of their day.
Curate their best - Collect and showcase your favorite Instagram photos that reinforce your message. Pull images from a hashtag stream and announce your curated page. Generate excitement from fans who compete to be featured.
Contests build community - Hosting contests are one of the more successful social media strategies. Create your unique hashtag and contest guidelines, and encourage fans to submit their interpretations. Even for modest prizes, you can generate interest and engagement.
How will I know it works?
One of the more debated questions in marketing and public relations communities always centers around measurement. How will I know that all of this activity is generating results? How much effort should I invest and for how long?
Go for engagement - Tools like Instagram, Pinterest or Google + provide a unique opportunity to create a community and develop relationships with potential and existing customers. Accumulating a large number of followers might stroke your ego but not further your business. Like any other communications tactic, you want to use it to attract the right clients. As you build your community, the people who stick around and reach out to you become a higher level of customer. They are more likely to be loyal to your brand.
If most of your followers simply lurk and not engage, look for ways to get them involved. If you can't motivate, it might be worth considering whether you are attracting the right people.
Make it strategic - Don't embark on any activity -- social media or otherwise -- unless you have a clear understanding of how it will support all of your other communications strategies. If you are trying to establish yourself as the hip new agency, your contests and photos are all designed to reinforce that theme. Begin with the end in mind for more a more focused experience.