Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, email marketing, website images – we live in an image-rich online world. And now that everyone has a camera on hand 24/7, brands can no longer get by with boring, same-old-same-old photos. Thanks to a rise in social influencers and user-generated content (UGC), those old images are losing their effectiveness. Consumers expect more authenticity.
While retailers are beginning to re-evaluate how they use photography to engage customers, they can’t rely on customers to generate all of that authentic imagery for them. Here are four ways to find a good balance.
Include your customers
One reason retailers love UGC is it showcases customers telling their own stories. It is authentic. Unfortunately, most professional lifestyle photos are void of customers, so look for ways to change that. You might include customers browsing products in-store, engaging with a sales rep, purchasing or just using the product in a social way. You know, real people doing real things!
Focus on the story
Whether you’re selling a trendy pair of boots or dental implants, think of the story you’re trying to tell with your imagery and find ways to reinforce it. You might overlay a customer quote on a specific image to better bring that story to life. You could use an image of an end result and ask your audience to caption it. Only when an image has meaning beyond a smiling face will it tell a story.
Set the mood
Images are meant to enhance or showcase emotion. Consider the mood of the images you’re using. While the natural tendency is for every picture to showcase a smile, there may be times where you want to convey a different mood. It could be sassy, defeated, frustration or even shock, to name a few. Capture images of varying moods through change in facial expressions, background and lighting, and use them when communicating your story. That way, if a social media specialist or email marketer needs an image of someone in shock to promote something new and exciting, you’ll have images to compliment the story.
Think of the end game
Is the goal of the image of someone sitting on a futon to drive an immediate sale, seek out more information on a product, digest a piece of content, grow your social following or create community engagement? By thinking through the end goal of the image, your photo shoots can become more strategic. Creating conversation around the gorgeous throw pillow on the futon may generate better sales results than focusing on the futon itself, while focusing on the futon may generate more social conversation. Create imagery that relates to the moment and the goal you’re seeking.
As I discussed in a recent episode of The Commerce Marketer Podcast, finding your brand’s voice and telling a story through authentic images has never been more critical for retailers. The goal is to take and use your photographs in a more strategic and engaging manner. Remember: Just because the photo isn’t a selfie doesn’t mean it can’t still be authentic.
Greg Zakowicz is a Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst at Bronto Software