Eleanor Pierce

How to Be a Visual Social Media Marketer

By: Eleanor Pierce | September 16, 2014 | 

How to Be A Visual Social Media MarketerBy Eleanor Pierce

I’m going to step up and go on record in support of this month’s theme (you’re welcome, Lindsay Bell).

Here is why visual content month at Spin Sucks is an important thing: As communicators, I think many of us have the tendency to get far too wrapped up in the written word.

I know I do—after all, I’m a writer.

Words matter to me.

But of course the majority of what we communicate doesn’t come through words.

The majority of what we communicate is non-verbal.

It’s certainly true in person—the most commonly cited stat is that only somewhere between seven percent and 35 percent of what we say is communicated verbally, the rest is communicated through tone, body language, gestures, and facial expressions.

Why would it be any different just because we spend so much more time these days communicating digitally instead of in person?

Being a Visual Social Media Marketer with Customers

The question of how all of this visual communication plays out when we’re talking about social media is especially interesting to me.

As I was thinking about it throughout the month so far, I also happened to run across (another) great blog post by Amber Naslund.

This section stuck out to me:

… the idea of being ‘social’ with our customers means bringing them closer to the company and giving them better, more streamlined access to two things:

1. The information and people they need to create a strong, positive buying experience with a company

2. Other customers or community members that can relate to their buying needs.

We’re trying to reduce friction in communication, raise the level of trust between our customers and our organization, and reward our community, advocates, and customers with an experience that surpasses their expectations.

So what does this mean when you apply it to the concept of being socially visual with our marketing?

The biggest lesson I take away is this: We need to be authentic.

When You Need to Go Pro

One example that comes to mind is what we do here at Arment Dietrich.

Sometimes, when the message calls for it (for example, when Gini Dietrich launched Spin Sucks, the book), we’ll go pro.

We’ll release a well-produced, professional video to share our message.

Sometimes, we’ll bring in Amber Turner to create a gorgeous website.

We’ll make sure our blog looks good.

We’ll create graphics that tell the story of what we do in a powerful way.

And for some brands, the only way to go is 100 percent polish. But at Arment Dietrich, 100 percent polish is not an authentic representation of our brand.

That’s why, oftentimes, we’ll create short little videos in one of our living rooms, or our not-so-expertly-lit home offices.

Because that’s who we are.

Yes, we can clean up well and roll into your boardroom in our best shoes and knock your CEO’s socks off.

When Keepin’ it Real Goes Right

But we’re also a group of smart alecks who sit around in our home offices or on our treadmill desks and bang through long workdays in sweats and T-shirts with cats crawling all over our computers.

And you, the members of our community, get to see that side of us, too.

And the fact that you know this, the fact that you know we contain multitudes, is one part of why so many members of our community often become our clients or our colleagues. Because we’re out there and we’re honest.

Most brands have the opportunity to be just as honest, but they don’t always take it.

Using all the Visual Tools Together

So, yes, use Canva to create a stellar image to share on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram … wherever.

And use smart visual strategy to make sure your visuals stick. But don’t forget some of the less-shiny tools in the toolbox, like selfies—you have no excuse to avoid them now that Laura Petrolino has outlined how to integrate them into the PESO model.

Because if you use Laura’s ideas and open up your brand to a deluge of selfies from your community, do you think they’re all going to be perfect?


Some people will have terrible lighting.

Some people will use weird composition.

But it’s OK, it’s user-generated content. It’s not supposed to be perfect.

In fact, it might not always need to be perfect even when it’s you-generated content.

Imperfection is honest; it helps build trust. It rewards your community by showing what’s behind the veneer.

What examples have you seen of brands that show their authentic human side?

About Eleanor Pierce

Eleanor Pierce is a recovering journalist who can't decide which part of the country to call home. She's happiest when she's reading, though she also really likes writing, baking, dogs, and sarcasm. No, seriously.

  • I don’t know if this is what you mean, but there is a LOT of imperfection in the user generated content created among the fitness community … but as a potential user of these products, I find these “fitness selfies” MORE convincing than something worn by an airbrushed model — if the person pictured survived a 10 mile run and is still raving about the shoes, I don’t care that his/her hair is a mess and he/she is dripping with sweat.

  • biggreenpen Yes! It’s so off-putting when a brand pretends that they have images of real users of their products, and it’s clearly models. Models have their place, but REAL users (sweat and all) are so much more powerful!

  • Love this post. Imperfection IS perfection. No one is perfect (least of all me!). 😉

  • biggreenpen Wait…those aren’t real users?

    Actually years ago, I knew a nationally ranked judo athlete who was also a model for the various health magazines (Men’s Health, Muscle & Fitness, etc.). What he told me about how they get him the “look” was pretty….well…fake.

  • ClayMorgan biggreenpen Well, I can only really account for the ones I post six days a week, but I am no model (I will give you a moment to accept that if necessary ….) and ditto for the people with whom I work out (although some of them COULD be models!).

  • ClayMorgan biggreenpen I have a couple of friends who’ve done some modeling for some outdoor gear peddlers, and at least in those cases they pick models who actually do this stuff — if you have a model pretending to climb a mountain and the ropes are tied wrong, you’ll lose credibility with your audience sofreakingfast.

  • belllindsay Even our favorite robot … <3

  • biggreenpen

    ginidietrich It’s awesome! cc: EleanorPie

  • EleanorPie

    biggreenpen ginidietrich **blush**

  • Eleanor Pierce ClayMorgan biggreenpen YES exactly. I feel that way about many portrayals of running in advertising; these people would get injured fast if they really ran that way.

  • “Imperfection is honest; it helps build trust. It rewards your community by showing what’s behind the veneer.” – Love it!

  • corinamanea You know we’re all about it around these parts!

  • biggreenpen Eleanor Pierce ClayMorgan I’ve never noticed … maybe that’s why I kept getting injured when I tried to be a runner …

  • EleanorPie

    douglehman Appreciate it Doug!

  • EleanorPie

    JeffSheehan Much obliged, Jeff!

  • EleanorPie

    EmilyKantner Thanks Emily!! Hope all’s well 🙂

  • EmilyKantner

    EleanorPie Loved the post!

  • EleanorPie

    EmilyKantner Thanks miss!

  • Great sentiment, Eleanor. Makes me think of all the celebrities coming out doing photo shots sans makeup and other products. I absolutely love this new music video by Colbie Caillat. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXoZLPSw8U8

  • I love this post. The best relationships are built on honesty and authenticity. Perfection is so 1990s! 😉


    ginidietrich EleanorPie NPR just had a segment that spoke towards higher CTRs based on which images were associated with an article

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  • ginidietrich

    SEOSEM EleanorPie Ohhhhh. Interesting!

  • Jen Novotny Ha!

  • EleanorPie

    cawcreative Thanks Andrew!! 🙂

  • EleanorPie

    CrossmanCom Thanks Susan!

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