Let’s face it. Facebook (and Google+) love pictures. It ranks at the top of the news feed food chain above text posts, videos, and links. It’s the primary reason that many people visit Facebook in the first place. They want to see pictures of little Timmy sliding into third base, the places that their friends and family are visiting, and cats. Don’t forget the cats.
Unfortunately, many businesses have focused on cats (or similar Facebook-friendly images) as their source of content. It simply doesn’t have to be that way. It’s the lazy approach to find things that make us laugh and then post them on our business Facebook pages in hopes that other people will laugh as well and like, comment on, or share the image. What’s worse than the laziness factor is that it’s insincere; it’s like trying to fit in at a party where people are frolicking in order to spring a sales pitch on an unsuspecting soul while in line for a drink.
What’s worse than the insincerity is that it simply doesn’t work. Sure, people may like the picture of the Sistine Chapel that your sister posted. They may even share it. You may even be able to loosely justify it by saying that it’s improving your branding. These are fine delusions, but they don’t address the core problem you have with your Facebook page. You aren’t actually becoming anything to your fans other than another interesting page that posts content that they occasionally see and rarely enjoy.
If Facebook (and Google+) are mostly visual platforms and you want to capture some of the “magic” without being a poser, you’ll want to find the various treasure troves of content to post. Here are some…
Finding Images for Facebook (and Google+)
One of the most annoying practices that businesses employ on Facebook is that they talk about anything other than their business. Don’t get me wrong, it’s much more annoying (and completely useless) to post a feed-based flurry of links to your website every day. Still, if you’re going to post images (and you should), there are places to find them that will improve your overall presence by staying interesting while also staying on point.
In this example, we’ll look at a local Ford dealership. What do they do? They sell and service Ford vehicles as well as used vehicles of other manufacturers. There’s no reason for a Ford dealership to post pictures of cats. They have plenty of content available to them that would serve them much better.
- Google – The obvious choice. It’s the other form of the lazy person’s approach, but it works and can still help you to stay on point. Search for specific cars. Search for engines. Search for images from the various car shows around the world. When you find something you like, post the image with a unique description. Be sure to add a localized or otherwise-relevant spin to the description. For example, if you’re posting an image of a concept 2015 Mustang, you could ask a question such as, “Is this different enough to make it stand out from the current body style?” or simply make a statement such as “We can’t wait to get these here in Fond du Lac!” As always, you’ll want to post a link to the source, but only after you’ve included the image. You don’t want this to be a link post with a preview generated, so add the link to the description after you’ve already selected the image. This works on both Facebook and Google+.
- Shutterstock – There are various paid image galleries that offer different packages. These are particularly useful when you’re posting content to your website or blog about the local area. In this example, we used Shutterstock to find interesting images of Wisconsin, the home state of the dealership itself. This gave us very sharable content (23 shares from a dealership’s website isn’t too shabby) on the website itself as well as a dozen images that we can share on the dealership’s Facebook page spread out over time if necessary or posted as an album.
- Your Store – This is quite possibly the most under-utilized source of content for most businesses. It’s also the most useful. Sure, there are plenty of businesses that are starting to post images of their happy customers, but it’s not really super-engaging content. The buyer and anyone who knows them might like or share the image, but it’s not going to get liked, commented on, or shared by anyone else. However, there is plenty going on other than the customers. In the example of the Ford dealership, there are often “cars with a story” coming through service. It could be a Ford with 300k miles. It could be one that just came back from a trip in the mountains and is now covered in mud. It could be an interesting or funny bumper sticker, a cool modification that someone made to a motor, or even something very simple like a silly outfit the boss wore to work today. There’s content floating around the store every day. You just have to keep your eyes open for it.
- The Area Around You – Every place has something photo-worthy. Whether you’re in a bustling metro area or a desert wasteland, there are things happening or interesting scenes that can be captured with your smartphone. Do it. I couldn’t tell you how many times I would stop in every city I’ve been to in order to take a picture of something cool had I managed a localized social media profile in that city. Take advantage of your surroundings and you’ll find treasures that your localized fans will recognize and enjoy.
- Your Imagination – This is rarely used as well but when it’s done right, it’s awesome. By using your imagination, you can explore both the store and the local area and manufacture scenes that would make for great posts on Facebook (and Google+). For example, you can go to the roof of the dealership and take a picture of the lot itself, then apply tilt-shift manipulation to the image for a really cool final product. The image above was a normal image, but when tilt-shift is applied, it makes it look like it’s a miniature car.
You don’t need cats. You need effort, imagination, and a willingness to be interesting with what it is that you do best. Don’t try to fit in on Facebook (and Google+). Try to stand out.