It's already well-established that posting images can help increase engagement and shares on Facebook: photo posts account for 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook, and can get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links than text-based posts (Buffer.com)
Let's take a look at some of the imaginative ways brands are using visuals to tell compelling stories on Facebook - and how they are generating real engagement.
1. Clever photo collections that inspire engagement
The first thing you notice about American Express' Facebook page is that it is strikingly visual. The financial services company has invested in their images to give a strong visual representation of their brand - which is particularly impressive for a service-based company as showing what you do visually is always more challenging.
American Express likes to photograph collections of images to ask questions, reflect a mood or stimulate discussion. Recently, the weather has got everyone talking, so American Express put out this simple - but hugely descriptive - visual on their Facebook timeline to sum up their attitude to the freezing weather.
It says it all right there: "It's a day unlike any other, you're probably having a snow day, and all you need is your American Express card in case you need to order pizza/download a movie/do some online shopping without braving the weather." The post quickly received 105 likes and 15 shares; they certainly captured the mood of their fans.
The company uses the same technique to engage followers by asking questions too, and this image posted on December 23rd brings together some intriguing clues:
The post asks: "Guess whose holiday essentials these are?" It's a clever alternative to the in-your-face holiday posts that have been doing the rounds, and invites plenty of discussion and good-natured responses. Hey, doesn't everyone need a credit card? Those reindeer vet bills sure do add up.
Tip: photographing your product together with everyday objects or in a live setting can tell a fun visual story and spark the emotional connection. These visuals communicate relevancy: show why a customer might welcome your product, how (s)he would use it, or communicate the benefits that your product can brings to their lives.
2. Creative backstory that sparks emotional connection
Sometimes, a company's marketing gimmick can take on a life of its own. Several years ago UK-based insurance comparison site www.comparethemarket.com created a campaign based on the idea that 'market' sounds just a little bit like 'meerkat', those cute little African mammals that stand on their hind legs to look around. Despite having nothing to do with the actual company, Aleksandr Orlov, the meerkat who has a Russian accent and is of an aristocratic heritage, along with his family and friends, was a huge hit. Although the company comparethemarket.com isn't actually on Facebook, its little mascot Aleksandr does have his own page, with more than 800,000 likes.
The story of Aleksandr, his friends and his family (including the new baby, Oleg) is played out on this fun and interactive page - which drives traffic back to the main company page with its clever use of storytelling and merchandising (a free meerkat toy with every purchase through the site) from its cute mascot.
Tip: if you don't have a mascot, why not tell the story behind your logo, choice of location or something else that makes your company unique? Your fans will always look for a human connection with your brand and your people: they want to peak behind the scenes and explore your culture, understand your mission, how you produce your product, what inspires your innovation. Marketing is not about B2B or B2C anymore, it's about P2P (people to people).
3. The story of your brand's mission and values that invites your customers to be a part of something bigger
Many businesses make a point of giving back to their community, but TOMS shoes go far further than this: the entire company was founded on the ethical concept that for every pair of shoes they sold (and eyeglasses too, more recently), they would donate a pair to children in poverty around the globe.
Telling the story of your brand's values works really well in a visual sense. On their Facebook page, TOMS shows how company's products (shoes and glasses) are helping communities around the world, and celebrating how their customers are a central part of that. It's one thing to know that a company has a strong ethical background, but showing the actual people who are being helped day-to-day makes their fans feel more connected with the company and their journey to make the world a better place, one pair of shoes at a time. TOMS shows plenty of more regular updates about new products and company updates, but there are consistent posts about the communities the company is connected with too, which reinforces their importance in the everyday life of the brand.
Tip: showing what your company is passionate about can tell the story of its core values in an appealing way. No matter how boring you think your brand or product is, there is always an inspiring story behind your brands heritage, there are always extraordinary stories of your employees who are passionate about your company and their communities, there is always inspiration behind the innovation. You just have to be inspired to tell it in a human and visual way.
4. Your customers' remarkable stories extend your brand through organic advocacy
Some brands like to celebrate the most important people in their business: their customers. On Starbucks' Facebook page many of their updates are taken from Instagram photos posted by their followers of their Starbucks experience. This gives a customer-eye-view of the brand, which is a really clever way of generating fresh, relevant content that brings your business and your clients closer together.
This photo, shared from Instagram user Stephanie, generated a massive response with over 78,000 likes, 460 comments and 1,500 shares. Using customers' own photos to tell their brand story is a wonderful, inclusive strategy and clearly resonates well with other fans. Not only that, this type of advocacy inspires authentic word-of-mouth.
Tip: your customers are your greatest asset; make them feel like a valued part of your story by sharing their images. By providing a hashtag to tag their photos, you will be able to collect them together more easily.
5. Your heritage connects you to your communities
Reflecting on your brand's own history can bring a whole new dimension to your current marketing. Showing where your brand has come from, the challenges you have overcome, and celebrating some of your best achievements can make your followers proud to be associated with you and all the great work you have done over the years. Positive nostalgia fosters true emotional connection.
In technology, the name IBM stands for quality and an illustrious history of innovation. Some of the company's most liked and commented-on posts on their Facebook page are the ones they have taken from their archives to show just how much has changed in the world of information technology over the years, and the breakthroughs that have led to much of the technology that we take for granted today.
Tip: Don't just bury photos from your past in the archives, use them to show how far you have come and the moments you are most proud of, and celebrate those moments with your communities.
Your brand has got some great stories to tell, so why not devise a strategy to tell those stories through visuals and rich media? Telling your story visually can bring a whole new dimension to your marketing: it can help customers connect with you and understand more about why you're doing what you're doing and who you are helping. Look again at your Facebook content strategy and think how you can mix in photos that show your world in a different way. Customers who feel more connected to a brand display greater loyalty and are more likely to advocate for your brand.
Originally posted in Social Media Examiner<a href="http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_mfw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fbuilsocibrid-20%2F8001%2F48c0812f-0f37-43fa-a540-25d682998870&Operation=NoScript">Amazon.com Widgets</a><a href="http://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_mfw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fbuilsocibrid-20%2F8001%2F02e62f8f-fb54-4bdf-948a-25ddfa596933&Operation=NoScript">Amazon.com Widgets</a>