Large retail stores often have similar brands in stock. Look at sporting goods stores as an example: You'll often find a typical brand collection of Nike, Reebok, Puma and Under Armour, among others, on the shelves. These are all well-known, not to mention incredibly popular, brands that also have large pushes on social media.
And why not? More and more brands are using influencers as a way to promote their products on social media. It's not uncommon to see stars of film and TV or current reigning sports champions donning new shoes or clothing.
For example, Steph Curry, one of the best players in the NBA right now, is a spokesperson for Under Armour. Naturally, the company has a series of photos of Curry on the court in Under Armour sneakers. If a fitness-savvy consumer is looking to get back into a gym routine or training for a marathon, chances are they are going to look for a dependable pair of shoes to help them out. If they're a fan of Curry, they might be more apt to choose Under Armour. After all, if one of the NBA’s stars trusts the brand, why wouldn’t consumers?
Although endorsements can help with engagement, I don't believe brands should stop there. As the CEO of a platform that aids in visual brand storytelling, as well as a being a part of Facebook and Instagram's marketing partner program, I've found that creating visual content for social media — as in, sharing pictures that show off specific details of your products and use creative color palettes — can also result in interesting pictures and engagement.
For example, I observed one well-known athletic brand share up-close images of the soles of a pair of tennis shoes, which received just as many likes as another post featuring a well-known celebrity. Similarly, I've seen a brand share photos with bright, eye-catching color schemes and various angles to photograph a product line, which received much more engagement than the company's simple snapshots of the same product.
There is an abundance of product photos on social media that use the visual medium through popping colors and/or unique framings. The point is that brands can make just as big of a splash on platforms like Facebook by concentrating on product photos.
With this in mind, I have a few suggestions for how brands can begin incorporating more visual content to help balance out influencer posts:
Remember your medium.
To start sharing engaging visual content, you first need to consider your medium, as visual content will look different depending on the platform you're using.
The main contenders are most likely Facebook and Instagram. Facebook is a great platform to share and curate content. It's much easier to link and share posts created by others on Facebook than Instagram.
Content on Instagram should be slightly more focused on the visual aesthetic of a brand, while Facebook posts can be used for resources and more concrete messages from the brand to the audience. If you build your post around the platform you post it to, you can also isolate audiences and outreach.
Depending on the medium, the physical aspect ratios are also vital to take into account. When choosing a visual for Instagram, remember that the aspect ratios allowed by the platform are more strict than Facebook. These tips all tie back to balancing influencer content with non-influencer content.
Once readers and brand leaders choose the medium they want to share their content on, a social media strategy is key. Having a social media strategy means that your brand will have consistent, high-quality visuals that allow audiences to become familiar and connect with your brand.
Paying attention to color schemes is probably my favorite way to keep brand consistency. Keeping a color scheme with a couple of complementary colors for different lines of products makes it so your branding designs can be dynamic and iconic.
What should a brand’s social media manager learn about creating content?
Put yourself in the shoes of a new marketing person at a large company, and imagine there's a sleek, new pair of sneakers coming out: What would you do with the above information? I recommend finding new ways to make the shoes look good.
Endorsements, while helpful and engaging, don't have to be your be-all and end-all. Even with a relatively small budget, a brand can begin creating captivating visual content. A brand with a Facebook campaign featuring a celebrity will result in huge buzz for a post, but having consistent and original product photos can have comparable engagement.
Sometimes, it’s the techniques you least expect. Don’t always be distracted by a celebrity spokesperson; it's good to take advantage of a creative outlet.