Posted by Nixon
23 October, 2015

Today social media is more powerful than ever before.

In fact, it’s growing uncontrollably and it’s becoming harder for businesses to keep up with this continuous form of digital communication.

Social media creates a conversation. It gets your customers engaged. It sparks inspiration.

This post will tell you how to find your place within social media and just how important preparation is for success.

The rise of visual communication

With the likes of Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube, consumers are now becoming increasingly focused and engaged with visual communication. Your chosen images give a sense of who you are, your values and personality. Just think about it – are you more likely to click on a link that has an image that excites you and leaves you wanting to know more? The answer is yes. If you can’t find one, you’ll keep on scrolling.

Internet Advertising Bureau UK recently stated that 80% of consumers would feel more inclined to purchase a product or service more often due to the brand’s presence online. Customers are more eager to learn more about your brand and discover your willingness to engage with the people who matter most. Their voices are now louder than ever before; give them a chance to scream about your business and tell the world by leading a brand new conversation through imagery.

First things first: create your tone

Put yourself in the shoes of the customer; who is your target audience and what do they expect from you, visually, as a business? What theme will your images portray? Look upon your customer’s lifestyle, location and interests then analyse how you can relate this to your business and keep things relevant for you and your customers. But remember not to blend into the background; keep things fresh, valuable and always stay creative so you stand out from the crowd as much as you can.

Are you playful? If that’s the case, expose your bright and happy personality through vibrant, simple and colourful images. Or maybe you are a little more edgy and artistic which means you may want to try more visual effects, fonts over images, collages or perhaps a simple artsy shot of the sea. The choices are endless really, but you must reach towards your target audience and stick to a chosen theme. People will be hesitant if your images are random, which will instantly kill that connection between you and your customer.

Starbucks’ Instagram feed is the perfect example of a theme that focuses upon darker tones, artistic perspectives and incorporates fonts with images to create variety within their posts. Starbucks appeals to all ages and certainly highlights the edginess found in popular culture through forms of collages and exploration of colours. Go Pro is another fine example of an Instagram account living a brand through cinematic, action packed and nature filled posts. This fully engages their target audience, the members of which are generally obsessed with the epic locations featured and appeals to those aspiring to live life to the full. Action is what the follower expects and action is certainly what they get. Top tip: Instagram users love a colour scheme.

Relevance and consistency are crucial

Before beginning a new post, always ensure your message has a purpose. Don’t settle for style over substance; create a story behind every image and take a step back and think, is this really relevant to my business and purposeful for my readers? Always write a caption to initiate conversation. The more comments you receive, the more likely someone is going to be stopped in their tracks and actually take notice of your very important post!

Within captions, maintain a lighthearted tone to make your brand more approachable to readers. Listen to what your customer wants from you, so you can always remain flexible when it comes to experimenting and improving.

With blog posts, always select an image that is relevant and let your image speak to your consumer without them needing to hear you say the words. A photo diary within a blog post can generate more traffic than your average post – a picture paints a thousand words and your reader knows that. Also, when sharing blog posts online through forms of social media, an image is much more likely to generate traffic towards your blog and website.

However, keeping it relevant but also regular is the tricky part. Consistency is of ultimate importance. It’s like a friend – if your friend doesn’t contact you as much as usual, you begin to lose their trust, your bond slowly breaks, and you’re no longer interested. This is the same for your business; you must maintain a relationship with your customer. Be someone who will always reply and always update with their news as much as possible; this will feed the customer’s visual need and keep them coming back for more. So, post often but post meaningfully.

Creating your plan of action

You have established what approach you are going to take and now it’s time to commence your plan of action. Choose two social media platforms that best suit your business and focus upon these so you can create innovative and rich quality content. It’s better to have two thriving platforms than a number of social media accounts with limited activity. Grainy photos taken and uploaded as you’re frantically putting on your coat and leaving the office just won’t do.

A social media calendar is a valuable tool for time management and can be easily created through a weekly timetable. Work as a team to brainstorm ideas, combat competition and produce a content plan that portrays your values and personality. Be sure to maintain consistency by following your schedule. Your customers will thank you for it.

If you liked this post, take a look at The value of video marketing to see how moving images can boost your social media, prompting shares and garnering engagement.

Guest blogger Hannah runs the lifestyle blog, Oh January.