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Show, Don't Tell: How To Share The Right Pictures Using Social Media
April 29, 2014




Photo Credit: rookiemag.com


They say a picture is worth a thousand words; sometimes, though, a picture can be worth your entire career. As social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram become ever more important sources of traffic, it’s critical to know which photos to choose and when to post them. Weaving together pictures that tell a cohesive story – whether it’s about you, your brand, or your interests – can help you not only attract an audience, but also also establish your authority as an expert in your field.


A great example of a business telling its story through pictures is Woods Hole Inn, a small bed & breakfast that sees itself and inns like it as the perfect place for quiet self-reflection. In 2011, the innkeeper at Woods Hole started capturing this story with the help of a red chair. This chair subsequently traveled from one inn to another, its journey documented on a central blog and then shared across social media. Through these photos, Woods Hole Inn has had the opportunity to tell a story about what makes bed & breakfasts different from hotels: everything from the intimate scale and cozy atmosphere to the unique landscapes.



Photo Credit: redchairtravels.com


Of course, you don’t need to be a business to tell your own evolving story. Blogger Kristina Ciari, who is always on the go — whether it be skiing, mountain climbing or otherwise traveling — often takes pictures of her adventures with an adorable mascot named “Owly.” The presence of Owly in every adventure brings consistency to her story, a reminder that her entire journey is about the wisdom that comes with travel.



Photo Credit: kristinatravels.blogspot.com


In order to attract readers, an audience, or a dedicated customer base using photos, focus your pictures around a theme or visual motif that your friends, fans, and/or customers will remember. It doesn’t need to be as elaborate as Woods Hole Inn’s traveling chair or as kitschy as Kristina Ciari’s globe-trotting owl. It should be memorable, though.


Start by asking yourself, “What story am I trying to tell? What aspects of my personal or company brand am I trying to convey?” If you have a mission statement, dust it off and spend some time thinking about the type of photos that would visually support this statement. If you don’t have a mission statement, take the time to write one. Identify your core themes and then think about the kinds of imagery associated with these themes. For inspiration, create a private Pinterest board of images that appropriately convey the style, tone and core themes of your story. If you stick within these thematic bounds, your story will be more accessible. Your fans, followers, and customers will have a clearer sense of your brand, which in turn will lead to more opportunities in your career and industry.


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When choosing photos in the future, ask yourself if they “feel right”. Do they match your core themes? Do they align stylistically with the rest of the images you’ve used across social media? Even if your audience doesn’t read a word of copy, will they still have a general sense of who you are and what themes matter to you just by looking at the pictures?


If the answer is yes, then you’re ready to post — just remember that different channels can be used to support different goals. You may want to dedicate your Instagram account exclusively to sharing fashion photos. Pinterest, meanwhile, makes it easy support multiple themes and business goals. Just remember that there’s no need to link every photo on every board back to your own blog.  A well-curated board on a certain topic can build an audience of thousands. The resulting traffic from the few pins that do link back to your blog will go a long way toward establishing you as an expert in your field.


There are countless way to integrate photos into your storytelling toolbox.  How do you use pictures to tell your story on social media? Share your thoughts in the comments!



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The best way to have an impact online is to create and share great content that will strike a chord with your followers.


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