Picture Perfect

I’ve just read an article from Andrew McDermott with Grade.us who says that now more than ever, people are judging you on the quality of your content and the photos attached to them.

In fact, McDermott says there are five things customers evaluate – automatically – when they come across one of your photos. Are you curious to know what they are and how you stack up?

1. Ingroup/outgroup.
Simply put, customers ask themselves the question, “Are you like me?” If the answer is
yes, the conversation continues.

2. Social class.
Sadly, classism is viewed by many as the last acceptable prejudice
in the world today. Customers use this to vet/validate the social standing of
those they associate with.

3. Ethos and values.
Every group has its own culture, its own set of values and norms.
Customers expect your Ethos and values to align with theirs and the ethos and
values of the group to earn their business.

4. Trustworthiness. “Will you hurt me?” Customers want to know they’re safe with you. They’re looking to decrease risk, pain, and suffering.

5. Social status.
Businesses with high social status and high social capital command a considerable amount of respect and prestige. As people, we’re drawn to those around us who are exceptional in some way.

So, when it comes to you, your business, and the photos you’re using to represent yourself is what you’re doing hitting or missing the mark? I wish I could say that all you need to
worry about is quality but as Andrew points out, there is a ton of backstory to
be applied to the selection of photos you post.

Watch Those Hands!

So here’s a tricky one. See the fingers this woman is holding up? As an American, this is the nonverbal way to say, “peace”.

In England, it’s the “V for Victory” if the palm is facing outward but something considered very rude if the hand is turned the other way.

Which, if you’re creating content for a global audience (something you should be doing) means when you use stock photos you need to be especially careful to not send the wrong signal.

In fact, quickly Googling “hand signs around the world”, I found that there are so many ways you can get yourself into trouble that you need to seriously be careful when you select your stock photos!

Don’t believe me?

Read this article and then tell me what this photo means to people from Latin America.

Catching Their Eye

Where do you stand when it comes to standing out?

I’ve got to admit, personally, I’m the least likely woman I know to need or want the spotlight and yet … what I realize when I look at this photo is the same thing I realize when I look around my home.

Beauty, personalized and meaningful, stands out and grabs my attention every single time. If you come to my place, you’ll find things you might not see elsewhere that I’ve surrounded myself with. Things that have meaning and memory – even if not “designer”. That, to me, is the ultimate expression of beauty.

Translating that back to this picture, you may see a woman holding a plant. If that’s all you see and it does nothing for you, no harm, no foul.

But, if, like me, the first thing you saw was an “offering” or the giving of a gift, then maybe you also looked even closer and saw this wasn’t your ordinary plant and these weren’t your ordinary hands.

If so, then the standout part for you might be, like me, that you approach the viewing of things (and people) differently.

Which is where I’d encourage you to focus when you think about your business, your customers and how your content, social and digital marketing efforts are having the impact you want and shining a spotlight on what you’re offering to others.

Photo Collage, People, Devices, Digital Marketing, Customer Engagement

5 Easy Ways To Connect With Customers

With the advent of digital channels, customers now lead the sales process. Consumers are more empowered than ever when deciding which companies to connect with and give their time and money to.

Bhagvashree Pancholy writes, “LinkedIn statistics reveal that 78% of social sellers outsell peers who do not use social media. 51% of social sellers are more likely to reach their quota and 45% of them create more opportunities than their peers.

Learning how to connect with customers in an efficient and cost-effective way is something businesses can no longer ignore.

Yet, many companies, especially larger organizations who are still learning about social selling in the digital era, find they come up short with their content marketing and online interactions.

Connecting with customers doesn’t have to be so difficult.

When I work with clients on their digital strategy, one of the first things I do is run through what I call the “5 L’s”.

  • Learn
  • Listen
  • Look
  • “Like”
  • Leave (Authentic Comments)

How do you put the five “L’s” into practice? Read on, my friend, and I’ll tell you.

 


LEARN WHAT THEY LIKE


 

How can you learn what your customers like? Research, research, research! Do a bit of digging. Is there something your ideal customers seem to gravitate towards or respond to?

Are there always certain posts that they seem to “like”? What are they?

Analyze the style, theme and product to see where what they “like” overlaps with what you offer.

It’s an effective way of removing your own business blinders and product bias. It also helps you spot new ways to connect with customers.

 


LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY


 

If you want to connect with your customers, you need to listen to what they say. This may sound obvious, but I’m not talking about the comments they leave on your businesses social media platforms.

When I advise you to listen, I mean that you need to take the time to really hear a few things.

  • How do they communicate? Do they use emoticons, abbreviations and acronyms?
  • Do you share the same content language or are they non-native speakers?
  • What is the context of their communication?
  • What time zone and location are they commenting from?
  • Do you have a previous history with them?

These are just a few of the questions you can quickly run through before crafting your response to them. If you take the time to learn a bit about who they are, your chances of creating a connection that leads to a conversion increases.

As Maggie Fox, senior vice president with SAP notes, “At the core of this whole initiative is a culture change, to think of the individual customer in a different way. To produce content that is going to help somebody from their journey, not trying to push a journey that we have in mind for them.”

Obviously, you can’t know everything about your customer but there is no reason why you can’t take the time to find out. Even a quick look at their profile or timeline can give you information from which to operate.

Once you do this, you’re equipped with a deeper level of understanding that increases your ability to listen and hear people.

That’s when real connection begins.

 


LOOK AT WHO THEY FOLLOW


 

What can looking at who your customers follow on social media do to help you connect with them? It can give you a look at the people they choose to spend their time with. You can see who has been allowed access to your customer’s time and attention.

Doing this is key in applying creative and strategic ways to reach them with your service or product.

It’s been said that we’re like the people we spend the most time with. That counts for online interactions, too. Looking at who your customers follow can give you a deeper understanding of who they are.

From there, you will have a better chance of connecting with them because you’re more aware of who they follow.

 


“LIKE” THEIR UPDATES


 

If you want to connect with your customers then you have to do more then just return their “follow”. That means taking the time to quickly scan their feed or timeline after they’ve initiated a connection with you.

 

If someone comments on your Twitter account, for example, it’s a great idea to quickly click on their profile, scan their Twitter stream and “like” or re-tweet one of their posts.

“Liking” their posts and status updates shows that you’re willing to give them some of your time and attention. The idea behind this is that when it comes time for you to broadcast a message to them, they’ll be more inclined to listen because you created the beginning stages of connection.

According to Stuart Lauchlan, “Gaining a deeper, behavior-based understanding of customers allows marketers to be smarter in creating next steps along the customer journey.

As in any good relationship, which, these days, all businesses need to create with their customers, connecting requires a give and take approach.

You may not think of customers in the same way you would your other business or personal relationships, but I’d challenge you to reconsider what being social on social media is.

If the idea of connecting in this way seems overwhelming or too time consuming, take baby steps. Start with a simple “like”. You’ll be surprised at how well this works.

 


LEAVE AUTHENTIC COMMENTS


 

Connection with customers happens when you set the intention to communicate authentically. What this means when it comes to leaving comments on your customer’s social media platforms is that whatever you write has got to come from the heart.

This is why it’s so important to make sure the people in charge of your digital marketing and social media efforts have people skills and are naturally empathetic.If you don’t mean what you say and are simply commenting to give the appearance of being engaged with a customer, it will show. Maybe not right away, but at some point, people will catch on that you’ve either outsourced your marketing or have taken the lazy way out with auto-responders or tied the hands of your communications team to limited, pre-programmed responses.

Customers can spot insincerity.

They can tell when you’re acting like a robot or when you’re connecting with them like a real, live, human being. It’s the real, the human, and the authentic that creates the connection.

What about you? How do you create connections with your customers online? Leave a comment below, share this with others or message me to get the conversation started. It’s the best way for us to learn from each other, don’t you think?