by Jennifer Lumba   | August 10, 2014
You aren't the only one using more images in your social media marketing. According to a recent survey, 70 percent of those surveyed said they planned to do the same.
 
There's good reason for this. Instagram and Pinterest consistently rank among the very best social networks when it comes to engagement. Instagram, in particular, was 58 times more effective than Facebook and 120 times more effective than Twitter in a recent Forrester Research study.
 
Expecting the same from your own efforts might be too optimistic. Yet there are best practices you can begin employing immediately. Here are 10 ways to get you started:
 
1. Curate. Find photos that fit with the brand that you're building. Add them to a curated list that you'll share publicly, and then take the time to acknowledge those whose work you're referring to. At the very least, you'll be associating with brands you admire.
 
2. Play to your audience. Your images say a lot about the audience you wish to attract. If you're in the manufacturing business, you might share photos of a particularly cutting-edge 3-D printer discovered at a trade show. Use images to join and grow communities of common interest.
 
3. Tell a story. Avoid one-offs. Instead, combine relevant images into albums that tell a story about you, your brand, and your customers. Just be sure that the narrative matches what you've created in marketing materials, blog posts, and other social media.
 
4. Open your albums. A story doesn't have to be told from a single point of view. Invite others to contribute to your collection and then return the favor. You'll be networking with like-minded professionals while improving your marketing reach.
 
5. Comment on and share others' work. Don't just advertise your own images. Engage with the wider community you're connected to. Comment on the best of what you find and then share it with others whose interests are similar to yours.
 
6. Be known for something. Like any business, you've got a brand that promises something to your partners and customers. Use images to reinforce your message. For example: if your promise is fast service, collect and post images of happy customers receiving fast service.
 
7. Act like a documentary filmmaker. A photo album can be like a documentary film that features a distinct narrative. Cover events such as trade shows and company meetings. Apply relevant hashtags to your images to ensure they run alongside related high-value content.
 
8. Use hashtags to reach the right audience. Post images for everyone and you'll reach no one. So, limit yourself. Study the hashtags followed by the audiences you want to reach, and mark your images accordingly.
 
9. Engage. Do your images draw comments? Good. Let them be a conversation starter. You may find a new customer or partner in the process.
 
10. Don't claim ownership. You aren't a professional photographer who needs to make a living licensing carefully developed images. Don't put your images on lockdown. Instead, make it easy for others to download or alter your work for their own purposes. Chances are, they'll credit and link back to your original.
 
And that's really the point. On social media, images aren't just for show. They're quite possibly the most effective tool there is for engaging new audiences. Use them well.
Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions. Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau's employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at [email protected].