Visual creatures that we are, interesting pictures and colors tend to attract our attention, pique our interest, evoke memories and create emotional responses within us. Although relevant, responsive content still reigns supreme in the world of social media marketing, visual elements also play a very important role in engaging your customers, capturing their attention and maintaining their interest in today’s crowded senior living marketplace.
Images Increase the Impact of the Printed Word.
In his recent article titled, Four Steps for Using Images in Your Brand’s Social Strategy, author Stephen Shepherd reviews the importance of making a strong visual impression a key part of your social media initiatives. As Mr. Shepherd puts it, “Just when marketers thought they’d mastered social media marketing—creating and monitoring tweets, posts and links—now the social Web is morphing again.”
He says, “Today, social networks are all about images. Photo-centric social sites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr are rising quickly in popularity, while Facebook continues to revamp its Web and mobile feeds to focus on the more than 300 million photos its members upload every day. “To succeed with social marketing, brands now need to move beyond text-based posts to develop an image-driven strategy, incorporating photos, logos and graphics into their social content programs.”
Although image-driven social marketing is still relatively new, there are some proven ways of incorporating images into your social media content that will help you stand out from the competition. Shepherd suggests four practical ways to successfully incorporate images into your social media marketing programs:
1. Select Images that Create an Emotional Connection and Are Most Likely to Be Shared.
According to the author, identifying your brand’s most shareable images is the cornerstone of a successful “visual social” marketing program. Therefore, take the time to review your company’s inventory of images, including ad campaign images, people photos, logos, graphics and more—to identify those with the most emotional appeal. Those that are beautiful, humorous, touching or fascinating are the most likely to be shared by consumers and are therefore the best candidates for image-based social marketing.
2. Post Your Images on Today’s Visual Networks.
Many senior living communities today have a Facebook page, but do not have accounts on Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram. Those image-driven sites are growing far faster than Facebook and while they may not be household words for aging adults, they may have relevance to their more tech savvy adult children who are seeking information and guiding the decision making process.
Mr. Shepherd suggests getting the most mileage out of your community’s visuals by making sure to post them “far and wide.” Adding notes or comments can help drive engagement, but the most important thing is to choose high-quality, shareable images that “speak for themselves.” He references that research has found that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text, according to InfoTrends.
3. Monitor and Measure.
Tracking and monitoring social-sharing patterns of your brand images is important, but doing so remains challenging since most social media monitoring tools track only text keywords in posts and tags. If you tag your brand photos, you’ll be able to more easily track sharing patterns, their impact on engagement and marketing ROI.
4. Encourage Your Brand Advocates.
As the author points out, your best advocates are those consumers who share your brand’s images with others. Through social media monitoring and image recognition, you can identify who is sharing your photos most often, with whom and how that sharing affects your brand image and sales. By reaching out to your most active advocates and offering them special incentives, you can create loyal influencers for your brand.
However, if people post your brand images in negative contexts or complain about your facility or services, it is important to reach out to them quickly for “service recovery” purposes. By offering to explain a particular issue or to fix a problem, you can sometimes turn “lemons into lemonade.”
Implications for Senior Living Providers.
While pertinent content may be king, a picture is still worth a thousand words. Select visuals to represent your brand that are memorable, inspiring and compelling and that encourage sharing with others to help spread your brand message and value proposition. If your social marketing plan requires outside help, be sure to look for an experienced organization that operates exclusively in the senior living marketplace and has the specialized expertise and experience required to succeed.
As Mr. Shepherd concludes, “Social media today is becoming more and more about images. “If your brand isn’t using its visual assets on social networks, you’re missing out on positive customer engagement and an opportunity to increase your sales.”