Three Reasons Your Photographs Should be Treated as an Asset

This week I had the opportunity to attend the American Marketing Association of West Michigan’s lunch where the topic centered around social media.  When I sat down at the table there was a small flier with tips for a photoshoot. Perfect timing, I thought as the next skill I hope to improve upon is photography and video.

I was even more delighted when Adam Bird from Bird + Bird Photography gave a short presentation on photography.  Adam shared several key takeaways that seem so simple, but to me were pretty profound. I’m sure this was because of my lack of understanding of photography as messaging, and I feel like I cannot be the only one who feels this way.  Because I was so impressed with his presentation I asked Adam for permission to write about it, and he graciously agreed.

Adam began with the premise that we all know that the best campaigns are run across multiple channels and that the messaging should remain the same across these channels (of course tweaked to be the correct content for the channel you are posting on). We have also heard that content is king. However, Adam shook things up a bit when he stated that content is not king.  Wait. What? He continued with “it is the Caesar – Dictator – in Chief President.” Well, it must be pretty important then. He explained that your photography must be multi-channel too, and it must not suck. Those are his words – not mine.

The first takeaway is that photography is an ASSET.  Sure, ok I thought to myself, not fully understanding the importance of photography.  As Adam talked though, it became perfectly clear that he is right. I imagine a large portion of us, myself included, think of a photograph as the last thing to add to a blog post or the awful headshots of employees flat against the obligatory brick wall for an ID badge.  Your photography should be a library of assets that you can access for many purposes. As with any of your assets, the better you do it the first time, the better the return on your investment will be.

The second take away is that a well thought out photograph can be used in multiple ways which Adam showed quite well, of course in photos.  The first picture was that of a girl sitting at a microscope in a classroom setting. He showed how that same photo can be repurposed for many different uses.  This one picture can be used as is for a blog or website photo. It can be cropped to accommodate the different types of social media. We can zoom in on the photo and just see the girl and the microscope, or we can recenter the photo so that the focal point of the girl and the microscope are to the side and text can be added to the other as we like to see.

The second image was a beautiful group shot of 9 people in an office with an amazing city view from the window off to the side and behind them.  They were grouped so that a couple was near the window and a few near or on a couch and the remainder were near a grouping of chairs. Previously I had gained some knowledge, somewhere, that odd numbered groups are visually more appealing. So now this photograph makes sense to me in that respect.  Now, take that information and couple it with the information above that photos should be thought out and staged. Not only can we show the big picture, but the photo should be built so that you are able to then dissect it and use it in multiple ways. Of course this photo can be cropped to fit the dimensions of the desired platform.  But here is the brilliant part to me. Each group of people represents a different department in the company. Now one single photograph can be used in even more ways by cropping for size, a tight shot or zoomed out or by the group to be able to tell a story of a particular department.

The final point Adam made is that great photography is an investment.  It should not be an investment that breaks your budget, but with all that a single, well thought out photograph can do, these photos should certainly be more of an investment than the cost of your office supplies.

As I was writing this, I did some quick research into how quickly we process images.  An article from the Daily Mail says it takes your brain 13 milliseconds to see an image. According to B2C that is 60,000 times quicker than a person can recognize the text of your company name or what the article associated with the picture is about.   You can capture the attention of someone quickly and draw them in to read your article or learn more about your company with a well thought out photo. Your images are what is seen first, and should always adhere to brand style. The viewer will begin to associate that style of photography with your company without having to read a single word, leading to instant brand recognition. That certainly seems to be a few reasons to invest in great photography.pixabay photograph - photograper

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

That quote is attributed to Confucius. I was not there to hear this, so I guess I have to rely on hearsay for this one.

What made me this of this right now though is that my husband is outside, in near-freezing weather, fixing my car for me. My son is out there as well, learning how to fix something in the suspension. My son graduated in December with an engineering degree and a lot of debt. I am incredibly proud of his accomplishments these past few years, including making the dean’s list the last 2 years. That is a proud mom moment, but not at all the point.

While it was completely his choice to go to college, as a society, in general, we have shunned learning a trade as a career. For many years our children were told that college is the only way to get ahead and make a good living. We now have a society that is crippled by student loan debt and yet we have a shortage of builders, plumbers, mechanics, etc. Often upon graduation, we do not find a job in the field that we studied in college or even a job we like.

What if more dad’s and mom’s and grandparents showed their kids as they were growing up how to do things such as fixing a car, building a shelf, laying bricks for a patio? What if these kids found something they enjoyed and were good at and could feel the satisfaction at the end of the day of a job well done? What if we respected our mechanics, builders and other tradesmen?

Would we be happier if we all found a job we could love?farrier-1246258_1920

Instagram Hashtags


Today’s tips are all about hashtags  These are easy to implement but should have a big impact on your page. As with all social media keep testing to see what works for you, and be ready to pivot and try a different strategy at any moment.

Why use hashtags? To help users find something they are interested in or is relevant to them.  Use them to put your brand in front of the right people to grow your audience, increase engagement and build your business if that is one of your goals.  

How many should I use? The maximum number allowed is 30.  Should you use all 30? Maybe not. Using the top hashtags can help you find followers, but are they the right type of follower that will engage you?  A good number to shoot for is 12-15 relevant tags.

Where should I put them? Caption or comments?  If you’re interested in hiding your hashtags you can put them in comments so that after a few others make comments they are essentially buried unless someone searches all the comments.  Alternatively, you can hide hashtags below the comments by using dots or line breaks.

Research your hashtags

Users –  what does your target market look for and respond to?  You can look back at your own posts or check out your competitors for that.  Which leads to …

Competitors – use the same or similar hashtags to try to get the same type of results or move in the opposite direction and use completely different ones.

Influencers –  they are influencers for a reason so you should take cues from them.  No need to  mimic what they do –  keep it natural and true to you.

Instagram suggestions – go to your search bar and enter a keyword and click on tage. Instagram provides alternate hashtags and the number of public posts with that tag.

Whatever path you choose, keep it relevant to you, your brand, your audience and the photo.  You don’t want to use  #happy when the photo shows something that certainly is not happy.

There are 4(ish) types of hashtags you should look at when deciding what to use to help get the results you are looking for.  I have already mentioned popular vs very target, niche type tags.  #love or # photooftheday can reach a lot of people and may be good for some easy likes to help boost engagement quickly and thereby helping your post appear at  the top of other pages.  But a very targeted and not so popular tag such as #squishyfacedogs is going to lead to a more engaged audience than #dogsofinsta will. Another way to approach your hashtags is more relevant to those who want utilize their Instagram for business.  As a social media manager, I like to stay on top of what others in the industry are doing, and will likely get good interaction using something like #smm. The interaction is great but an industry specific hashtag such as this is not likely to be the ideal client I want to put myself in front of.  Yes, you can definitely argue that maybe someone is going to search for a social media manager by searching the tag #smm. Conversely, you should use hashtags that are industry specific to your target market.  So if one of my target markets is auto repair shops I could use the #mechanic with 925,578 public posts, #mechanicwork with a significantly lower number of public posts at 6,926 along with something like #socialmedia and then the mechanic searching for his industry posts may see your post talking about how a repair shop can benefit from using social media.

Finally, to keep track of the hashtags you are using or would like to use, just pop them into Google Sheets.  With this tool you can categorize to your liking, keep track of the number of public post, how many times you have used the hashtag and the responses you have received and it is easily accessed on mobile.

What hashtags are you going to use?  Do you have industry-specific hashtags?

Leave me a message if you have questions or if you are ready to claim back some of your time and want to leave social media to someone else.


Instagrap Tips

I have a couple of Instagram tip for you this week.  They are crazy simple and you can start doing these things today.

The # 1 tip …   Show up.

Every. Damn. Day.

And even multiple times per day.  

If you are trying to grow your engagement and followers post up to 4 times per day.  If you miss even a few days you will see decreased rates of interaction.  Be there for your followers so they begin to know what to expect from you.

What should you be posting?  Well, whatever has been working for you keep doing that!  But, if you want to step it up, research what the influencers in your industry are doing and follow their lead.  Find your own voice and style so your feed is still authentic to you. If you are finding that your followers are not interacting with the new type of posts move on to something else.  

Current trends are moving to video and Instagram Stories so give this a try to see how it works for you.  A second trend is moving toward realism.  What I mean by that is that the photos are not always the beautifully staged photos and pages are not perfectly curated.  Show the real you, the behind the scenes processes, the imperfect the ugly and the ordinary.

Super simple right?  

Leave me a message if you have questions or if you would like to start outsourcing your social media.

How are your New Years Resolutions Doing?

It’s that time of year again when we create goals and resolutions for yourself or for our businesses. This past year I had told myself that I was going to go all out on my business and be able to quit my job.  Well, things happen.  Or rather don’t happen when I keep making plans to do something just as soon as this other project is finished or that project is perfect. There is always something else that seems need to be done before you finally take action.

Late last year I made some changes to my plans and goals, and while I have had a few hiccups along the way I feel that I have made some progress.  So what did I do this year that I will continue in the new year?

  1. I found 2 people whose personalities and philosophies I feel align with myself and my goals for my business, and I soak up all of the information I can from them.  Funny thing is they are quite similar.  Rachel Pedersen has been a blessing with her knowledge, enthusiasm, and her genuine interest in the success of the members of Social Media U.  I cannot wait to be able to grow my business with her help and to watch her grow her business and family.  I am a new fan of Gary Vaynerchuck.  His consumer-centric, no BS and giving attitude has made me a fan.  The only thing I can outdo that bundle of energy in is dropping the F-bomb, though he is a close second.
  2. I have accumulated many downloadable sheets, courses, infographics – you name it.  I may have looked at them and I may not have.  All of this information I threw away.  Social Media U has all of the information I need for this moment in my career and the rest was all clutter taking up space in my home and in my mind.
  3. Along the same lines as #2 is that I removed myself from all but a select few Facebook groups and 3 mailing lists.  Everything else was again, too much clutter that I did not need any longer.
  4. Get over what everyone else thinks I should be doing, and to do what I want and need to do.  This is a slow process and it can seem like one step forward and two steps back.


So what are my resolutions for 2018?

  1. Execute!  Do what I need to do to grow professionally.  For too long I have been planning to do this.  If I am not doing something to benefit the business, stop and refocus to complete a task that will.
  2. Grow personally. Go on a few adventures. It is my time to be ME.  I think this is going to piss off some people, but whatever –
  3. Continue to learn and pass that information along to anyone who wants to hear it. I will also use that information to provide the best service I can to my clients and to give my clients the best opportunities to grow and achieve their goals.
  4. And because I don’t want to be the oddball out, it’s time to get serious about my health again.  I was doing great for a while and let it slip. I have to be accountable to myself to get that done.


Best Wishes to all!    Please share your goals or resolutions for the New Year.  I can’t wait to hear them.