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social media how toAre you sharing your stories with your fans?

Do you use pictures in your social marketing?

People want pictures in their social channels.

When done right, these pictures become visual stories.

In this article, I’ll show you how five brands are using pictures to share their stories and why that’s important.

Great Marketers Are Great Storytellers

As a marketer, you know the importance of stories, but do you know how to tell a story with few or no words at all?

“We’ve now entered a phase in which visual communication is supplanting the written word,” says Bob Lisbonne, CEO of Luminate and former SVP of Netscape.” Some are now calling it the dawn of the Imagesphere.”

Our brains process pictures 60,000 times faster than text. When your brand shares a picture, your fans decide in a split second whether they want to see more.

People upload about 250 million photographs to Facebook every day, and Twitter has become more visual, showing photos and videos right in your feed.

The growth of other image-rich sites like Pinterest has been stratospheric, and apps such as Instagram, Vine and even Snapchat aren’t just for teenagers–savvy marketers are using them too.

These channels help you tell stories that create engagement, build communities and ultimately help nurture brand loyalty and long-term relationships with customers.

Below I’ll show you how five brands are using visual stories to engage their audiences.

#1: Give Life to Your Products

Stories don’t have to be history and they don’t have to be long. In fact, quick-moving social platforms encourage using fewer words. Twitter has always limited you to 140 characters, but now you can add a picture or video to your update to reinforce your message.

Whole Foods Market used this picture on Twitter to emphasize how their products fit into customers’ lifestyles:

whole foods breakfast sandwich

Whole Foods Market connects with followers by sharing pictures of their products.

Over 3.5 million fans follow @WholeFoods, in part because the brand shares great ideas on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Whole Foods’ tastebud-worthy pictures aren’t just for show; they subtly reinforce that all of the ingredients to make a delicious meal are available at their stores.

Tip: Use high-quality images or videos to give a “lifestyle” angle to your marketing. Show your customers how they can use your product in their everyday lives.

#2: Tell Your Other Story

Whether you want to share your culture, show how you design a product or celebrate some of the unsung heroes of your business, photos tell a more eloquent story than any copy ever could.

Your fans know what you look like on the outside. If you want to make a deeper connection with them, show your brand’s human side with a peek into your everyday humdrum.

Letting your fans see an alternate perspective gives them a new, more personal way to connect with your brand.

ABC World News uses Instagram to show a lighter side of the network that truly connects with its audience. Sharing informal moments makes anchors, reporters and their teams appear more relatable.

abc news instagram image

A look behind the scenes helps your brand connect on a personal level.

ABC World News shares these personal glimpses across all of their social networks, but Instagram lends itself especially well to the in-the-moment, spontaneous fun.

Tip: Don’t just take photos of perfect “on-air” moments. Give depth to your brand by showing the real work that goes into researching, designing and marketing your products. Those pictures convey your passion far better than an oh-so-perfect photo shoot.

#3: Celebrate Your Community’s Passion

Why do your customers buy your products instead of your competitors’? What is the lifestyle that goes hand-in-hand with your brand? As a marketer, you know the answers to those questions and how they define your audience.

Too many brands only use Pinterest as a way to show off their products and services. But the most successful companies on Pinterest tell the story their customers want to hear.

For example, at Random House, Inc., they know that books aren’t a product, they are a way of life for their customers. They use images to capture the entire philosophy of books, reading and literary interests.

Random House, Inc.’s 1.5 million Pinterest followers appreciate that and are eager to follow boards like What Would Jane Austen Do?, Bookish Nooks and Literary Weddings.

random house pinterest image

Know your audience’s passions and give them the story they want.

Tip: Highlight the things your customers love, celebrate the communities where you live, share what causes are close to your heart and show what inspires you.

#4: Bring Your Brand to Life With Video

If you’re only using YouTube as a repository for your ‘official’ advertising, you’re missing the boat. You can do so much more with video—and give people a reason to subscribe to your channel.

Beloved tech brand Apple is a master at creating videos their fans want to watch, share and comment on.

For example, this video, which has over 3 million views, gives a tour of Apple’s new Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor—a tech development they know their fans are interested in.

Show off exclusive product features (and their stories) to wow your audience.

What sets Apple apart is that they don’t just show you the new feature, they show you the stories behind innovations; why they were necessary and how they make lives better. Fans identify with those stories because it’s their problems being solved.

Tip: Use videos to create a story around your product features. Share employee and customer passion to relate with your audience and let them know their interests are your driving force.

#5: Cater to an Individual Audience

Sometimes, when you try to reach everyone, you end up reaching no one. In those cases, it helps to set up channels for specific niche audiences and just tell the story that’s relevant to them.

If you’re trying to reach the elusive age 16-24 demographic, Tumblr is a perfect choice to show your visual journey, one photo at a time.

Target’s style blog on Tumblr is successful because it shares only the images that their younger, female, more fashion-conscious followers are interested in.

Under each image or set there’s a link back to the product page, which is a very clever way of selling without the hard sell.

target tumblr image

Use social platforms geared toward the community you want to reach.

Tip: Don’t use a one-size-fits-all story. Focus on a specific niche by telling a story relevant to them. If you’re having fun with it, they will too, and they may be more likely to buy. Don’t forget to drive traffic back to particular sections of your website.

Over to You

Social media is a gift to storytellers: You can tell a story in more interesting ways than ever before and reach a much larger audience.

Using images and video to tell your story gives a new dimension to your brand and builds closer relationships with your fans, followers and subscribers.

What do you think? How have you used pictures to tell a bigger story? How has your community responded to your visual content? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

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