December 2, 2013

The advent of social media has obviously changed the way we share our lives with friends and family. We share photos of almost every aspect of our lives to sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. But when it comes to our "brands" are we doing the same? And do the images you share define your brand?

Before I dive into this, I wanted to talk a little bit about why I love Instagram.

I grew up with my parents taking photos of everything we did. Family events, holidays, graduation and prom, pets, silly moments... you name it, we probably have a photo of it. My mom has a whole armoire full of photo albums and stacks of photos.

This mentality carried with me as I grew up. My friends and I took photos of everything we did. And this was "back in the day" before mobile devices with high quality cameras! This was back when we had to actually develop the film to see our pictures. We would scrapbook our travels and adventures and reminisce over all the great times we had.

When I met my husband, I think he thought I was a little crazy. I was always wanting to taking photos but this wasn't something he was used to. After nearly a decade together though, he's just as camera happy as I am. The thing is, he realized how much fun it is to go back and relive experiences through photos. He learned to love the act of documenting life events through photos.

And so, when I finally found Instagram, it became a natural love for me. The ability to quickly document my life experiences and turn them into stunning images was like catnip to a girl like me!

I just recently read an article from someone with a different perspective. In the article, the author talks about a conversation he had with someone about the fact that he didn't share images of a recent cycling expedition. The conversation turned to personal branding and how images shared to sites like Instagram are imperative to our personal brand. You can read the article for the rest of the discussion. Though I definitely would be one to agree with the other person in the conversation, the author determines that he'd rather enjoy his personal experiences than document them.

I can't say I blame him. Focusing on taking photos can distract from the real world going on in front of you. I get that. And for some people, they would rather live in the moment than to reflect on photos of days gone by. I get that. For your personal story and your personal life, I understand.

But what about your brand? Or what if you're a business?

If you're any sort of a public figure or business, people want to know about you and your story. They want to see photos of your early days, they want to see how your business has evolved, they want to know how you've grown, and they want to know the personality behind the person or company they're working with.

Sure, you can write blog posts and tell people about your history. Yes, you can discuss milestones over coffee. But nothing tells the story of your brand better than images.

It's like pulling out that old photo album from mom's bedroom and showing someone the ridiculous hairstyle you had in fourth grade. Or seeing how you grew every year as you competed on school sports teams.

For the business world, it's proudly displaying photos of your flag ship store and the numerous remodels and new locations since then. It's showing how you went from a solopreneur to an office full of staff. It's laughing about using your parents car to drive to your first client meeting while now you hold meetings in your downtown offices.

Whatever your journey, photos are the best way to connect with your audience.

And in our online world, with instant access, it has never been easier!

This is just one more reason why I love Instagram for business.

You can upload old images and tell your story right there on your profile. You can document new experiences and milestones and share them with your audience. You can define who you are and what you do. You can connect with your audience in a way that previously seemed difficult.

Instagram is your own ever-growing scrapbook. It's your place to define your brand through photos. So start sharing your photos! Start sharing your story with the world - they want to see it.

Do you define your brand through images? I'd love to hear how you do this. Please chime in and let us know what you do in the comments below!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Photos don’t lend themselves easily to my type of business, but I completely understand the merit and success in using them for most others. I do try to use my own pics (like the one of my at the Einstein memorial) to give a “visual” to me and my business, but I would love to be able to figure out ways to do that more!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Instagram, Jenn!

    1. It is more difficult for some businesses, Kim. And you do fall into one of those tricky categories. I do love that you use a personable profile photo for all your sites to really let people get to know you.
      Photos don’t always need to be 100% “business”. If you’re traveling to client locations, share images of the areas where they’re located. If you celebrate holidays or milestones, feel free to share a photo or two from the occasion. If you’re busy working on a new blog post or client project, share images of what you’re working on (without revealing any sensitive information which I know you handle a lot of). Is your desk super clean or crazy cluttered? Share a pic and tell us why you work better that way.
      All these little things are ways in which you can share an extra photo every now and then to boost your connection with your audience.

  2. Love your blog. Learned quite a bit about instagram from you. I own a boutique flower shop. I post pictures and short stories of our flowers, the shop, my trips to the flower district and other things that display the lifestyle of my brand. I ask questions at the end of my captions and make 2 comments on images i like on other peoples accounts. Even though i just started, I get many people following each day and lots of engagement with others. Really trying to focus on building relationships locally though I follow people from all over. You can find me here on instagram @moonflorists. I also use statigram which is an amazing tool for analysis. Gary Vaynerchuks book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is teaching me alot about the mindset of so ial media. And even though you don’t recommend using too many hashtags, he advises to use5-10. I only about 3 in caption and add the others in a comment below so caption doesn’t look too spammy. Thanks for all you do!

    1. Hi Mimi! Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m so glad you’ve found the information I shared valuable.
      Your Instagram account looks good. You have lovely arrangements and photos. You’re making good use of hashtags so keep that up. I also like your descriptions and how you describe the story behind the photos. You’re definitely off to a great start!
      I would recommend you add a little more info (personalize) your bio. And don’t be afraid to use Instagram filters. Adding Lo-Fi or other color enhancing filters can really help make your flowers pop!

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