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For the love of photos (part 2): Integrating photo-sharing sites into your marketing plan

March 15, 2012

This week at #SXSWi, iTunes app of the year Instagram revealed that 27 million users are now registered users – more than twice December’s number of 12 million. What’s more, they announced a forthcoming Android version of the app app, which has the potential to double, if not triple, the user base after release. With the incredible growth of photo-heavy social media sites such as this one and the explosively popular-with-women site Pinterest, images are becoming a vital part of any brand’s strategy.

In part 1 of this series, I discussed the importance of mobile and social photo sharing in the changing web landscape. Before saying cheese, however, keep the following things in mind:

Define or die: What’s your photo brand?

Think first about your customers – what they buy from you and then what they care about – and define what it is you represent for them.

Cvent, an online service for event organizers, recently hosted a contest to submit a photo of the best event they had ever planned. Cvent recognized that event planners were its primary audience, and then asked them to share what they cared about most – events. Cvent understood its own brand and translated it into a successful photo-sharing strategy to engage planners.

Cvent hearts meeting planners

Identify the right sharing sites before jumping in

Flickr, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest. Where does one even start? By researching and identifying what your customers use. If it’s B2B, consider Facebook as a way to share your brand’s photos with customers who like you. If it’s B2C, get specific and find the right channel for your various demographics.

I love taking photos!

Find a photographer (they’re closer than you think)

There’s an amateur photographer around every corner. Ask around and see who’s passionate about photography within your organization, and give them a good camera. No one wants to see blurry photos – a good camera is a required investment if you’re working to use imagery to enhance your brand.

Don’t be shy! Decide on content

It’s important to see your photo sharing as a form of storytelling through pictures. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so you need to find your most visual content to promote.

You may use employee-generated photography to highlight a fun office culture on Flickr. Or, you may ask brand loyalists to send photos that  reflect their love for your brand or product. Start with one, test its success and then move on to other content types when you’re ready.

Provide incentives to upload or follow and share

Contests with prizes based on votes are a great way to encourage sharing. Ensure contest rules allow for submitted photos to be used however you deem necessary to avoid copyright issues.

When uploading your own content, be sure to tag photos with key words to attract interested parties. Instagram users are famous for searching out hashtags that interest them and then “liking” that support or interest.

Respect the channel rules

Certain sites, like Flickr, have a more professional photographer base that prefers to like and follow users with a Pro subscription. If you’re planning to use a channel, be sure to engage before posting and learn the rules of the photo road.

And finally

Whatever path you choose, the key to a solid photo sharing marketing plan is to understand your audience and then speak their language – in imagery.

Tiffany & Co. has this photo strategy thing down pat.

What are some examples you’ve seen of great strategy by marketers to use this burgeoning medium?

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