Images, particularly photographs, are content marketing’s magnetic force since they’re driving social media across platforms. As a result, you need a tailored image strategy within your content marketing plans.

Don’t take my word for it. Recent research shows photographs are the engine driving social media activity. Look beyond the high growth of sites like Pinterest and Tumblr and you’ll see measurable activity that translates to sales. On Facebook, Dan Zarrella of HubSpot found that photographs yield greater likes, comments, and shares.

More importantly for marketers, photographs not only drive social media action, but they also support sales. Roughly one-third of North American online buyers made a purchase after seeing an image on a social image-sharing site like Pinterest, according to a March 2012 Bizrate Insights survey reported by eMarketer.

integrating photographs, CMI

10 tactics to leverage the magnetic power of images

To use images including photographs as an effective component of your content marketing strategy, here are 10 tactics to help achieve your content marketing goals.

integrating photographs drives purchases, CMI

  1. Develop special images aligned with your marketing. Ensure the images present your 360-degree branding appropriately. Don’t limit your offering to just photographs. Include illustrations and/or text.
  2. Commission special visual content. Think in terms of infographics and other visuals. This is another way of getting diverse perspectives on your brand and organization onto social media. As the word commission implies, you’ll need to pay to get this content created, but it will be worth it.
  3. Extend content marketing and advertising campaigns. This doesn’t mean after-thought outtakes. Rather, before you develop other content, create additional images to minimize costs, especially when you’re using professional photographers and artists.
  4. Enhance your subject with related or complimentary images. Brainstorm associated topics in which your audience is interested. For example, Exude Lipstick features misformed, used lipstick photos on one of its Pinterest boards.
  5. Repurpose existing content. Social media platforms don’t always require fresh content. Consider the use of archival and out of copyright information.
  6. Curate images. As with other forms of content, you don’t have to create all of the images yourself. This is a good way to incorporate user-generated content, where you maintain editorial decision-making for what gets posted, or to get around the lack of rights to use images. Of course, it’s critical to attribute the images appropriately. It’s not just for legal reasons; it’s about social media etiquette.
  7. Acquire digital rights for images. Remember when using images, especially photographs, your legal team is your best friend. Ensure that you’ve got the right to use the photos by incorporating outtakes and additional shots for social media into your contracts, going forward. For consumer-generated content, include a clause regarding rights to share and use the image. (Note: I’m not a lawyer. Please check with your legal counsel to make sure your bases are covered appropriately.)
  8. Optimize images for findability. Bear in mind that people search for photographs and other illustrations. Make sure they can locate your images by associating search friendly text with your postings. (Here’s what Google says to do.)
  9. Use images to help your sales efforts. Sales don’t just happen. You must make your social media sell for you. Where appropriate, link your images to your selling pages, or to a page that’s as close to the sales process as possible. Then ensure that your purchase process is optimized to close the deal.
  10. Encourage social sharing. Readers like to share images across social media networks like Pinterest and Facebook. To increase sharing activity, include the appropriate social sharing buttons and use a contextually relevant call-to-action.

Take advantage of the magnetic power of images and photographs to guide social media and sales activity. Integrate these image-driven strategies into your overall content marketing plans to ensure that they enhance your other content marketing.

What other recommendations would you suggest to integrate images into your content marketing plans?

See Heidi Cohen’s workshop, Content Marketing 101: Getting Started, when you attend Content Marketing World on September 4 – 6 in Columbus, Ohio.