Use {Original} Photography to Connect With Your Audience

ACTIVE Days

Everybody’s heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, and we’ve had the data to back that up for a while, including these stats reported by Hubspot1:

  • Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. (Source)
  • Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. (Source)
  • Shoppers who view video are 1.81X more likely to purchase than non-viewers. (Source)

  • Using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%. (Source)
  • Visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. (Source)
  • Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images. (Source)
  • On Instagram, photos showing faces get 38% more Likes than photos not showing faces. (Source)

Don’t Get Stock Stuck

So – the case has been made for using imagery in your marketing and engagement strategy. Now what?

As the battle for your ideal consumers’ attention intensifies, it’s easy to go the stock photography route. Sometimes you just don’t have a choice.

If that’s the case, stock up on the types of stock images to avoid.2 Choose images in the most natural setting — avoid white backgrounds and unrealistically happy people, such as “Women Laughing Alone With Salad”3 images (among the most mocked stock images out there). Look for real life collections like Twenty20. (Meme by 9Gag.com)

The Power of Original Photos

When you use original photography, you eliminate the potential of using the same images others are using. You also can begin to tell a brand story that people can recognize just by sight.

Unfortunately, most community organizations don’t have an award-winning photojournalist on staff. Maybe you have a few photography buffs or you may have to settle for someone with a steady hand and a smartphone. However you make it happen, it’s worth your while to find, train or pay a visual storyteller for your brand.

But before you send someone out to snap what is, take the time to ponder what could be.

In his TED Talk, How Photography Connects Us4, David Griffin describes the mindset and inspiration behind storytelling that doesn’t just define the event but also creates “an emotional connection to it. And this is what a photograph taps into when it makes its own powerful connection to a viewer.”

What’s Your Story?

Ultimately, those marketers who use photography to tell their brand’s story well start with more than a good camera and an eye for composition. They start with a clear understanding of the deeper story they want to show-and-tell to their audience. When they see it, the camera is already focused and ready to capture something extraordinary. Sometimes, that intention helps them find a story they didn’t even know was there.

Consumers today are looking for stories that resonate and strike an emotional cord.5

Involve Your Community

You (or your photographer) can’t be everywhere at once – so it’s likely you’ll miss a lot of the action taking place among your participants. Empower your community to join you in the visual story-gathering by creating a platform for original photography and soliciting what is known as user generated content (UGC). Examples include:

  • Frost Bank’s website and mobile app background hosts a different user-generated photo of a scene in Texas (where the bank is based) every day or so.
  • Arch's bike chain 2Our internal ACTIVEx team solicits images of employees’ active weekend adventures and sends out a What’s Your ACTIVE? weekly photo-newsletter to the entire company. Seeing other participants’ lives highlighted in this way builds camaraderie and encourages teammates to get active and to share their own images. Sometimes, as illustrated here, the story is about the pitfalls along the way. (This could work with customers, too!)
  • Set up a gallery in your facility and encourage visitors to vote for the winning photographs. Even cooler if they see it in the lobby and can easily vote on their phones. (Through your app or a SurveyMonkey survey, perhaps?)
  • Social media is a great place to host a photo contest, where the most Likes results in a discount to an upcoming program or simply bragging rights.

Be sure to research any needed release forms, take care in posting images of children, and follow contest rules for the social platforms you’re using.

Get Started

However you do it, photography is key to connecting with your audience. Are you reinforcing your brand’s story through good visual storytelling?

Sources:

1Hubspot: 37 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know in 2016

2SEO PowerSuite: 7 Types of Stock Images to Avoid

3TheHairpin: Women Laughing Alone with Salad

4TED Talk: David Griffin on How Photography Connects Us

5Linkdex: Why Emotional Storytelling is the Future of Branding 

Gina Calvert

Gina is the Senior Marketing Writer for ACTIVE Network, providing marketing and business resources for active lifestyle organizations across a range of markets, including government, nonprofits, YMCAs, Parks & Recs, camps, schools and endurance events, for almost 7 years.

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