If content is king, images are the crown jewels


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It seems that every day there’s another groundbreaking social media tool to play with, but when it comes to selling a brand, pictures pack the punch.

According to a review of the top 10 Facebook brands by marketing analytics company Simply Measured, photos are liked 200 per cent more than text updates and videos are shared 1,200 per cent more than links and text posts combined.

Instagram, purchased by Facebook in September of 2012 for more than $700m, holds strong as the worlds fastest growing social media platform. The site has more than tripled in growth in the last 12 months alone, exploding from 30m to 100m active users.

The question is, do you want your page to engage?

Interacting with your market audience

The most important side of social media is participation and in the right hands, photo-centric tools are the best way to interact with an audience. The truth is, people love taking photos as much as they love looking at them!

By encouraging users to join in the fun with their own snapshots, you invite creativity and quirkiness into your brand while spreading your message at the same time.

So what’s the secret to saddling this superpower?

Number one, get creative. Nobody wants to see 15 photos of the same thing from the same angle with the same filter. It’s almost as bad as those girls posting pouty-face pucker shots; the only way to distinguish one frame from the next is the subtle shifting of her snaggletooth.

Second, use hashtags with every post! Tags give your brand a sense of reliability and promote community engagement, the bread and butter of social media success. Your consistency has a snow ball effect, as photo prowlers pounce on your dependable messages.

Last, use photos that are REAL. Authenticity is the true power behind online images and instead of chasing photos airbrushed to infinity, users will target your brand because it represents something believable…and therefore, achievable.

Online dating: Social media at its best…and worst

For proof of visual impact, one has only to look to online dating.

Tired of the game and keen for a new way to entertain myself, I decided to give it a shot. In addition to scoring some good stories, I learned that setting up a dating profile is not all that different from any good social media strategy.

Marketing your brand is all about constructing a positive image that stands out among the crowd and is faithful to who you are. Guys trolling through matches need a reason to click, just like any consumer reviewing a product.

I learned quickly that being redundant and cliche is critical to avoid. Are you using the same vanilla opening lines as every other guy? “So, I’ve never tried online dating before, but I guess I’ll give it a shot, here goes.” We don’t need to hear your inner monologue, cut to the chase.

The real shocker was, despite a general effort by most to appear humble and objective, the pictures people chose to represent themselves spoke 1000 fold louder than the rest of their profiles. And God help you if you had no photo at all.

Call me conceited, but when deciding whether to meet a guy, I certainly steered clear of shirtless-selfie guy and dribble-faced drunkard. And let’s not forget all the ways we can be cliche through photos, thanks Freddie Prince Jr.

After all, what photo you choose to market your brand says a lot more about you than just what you look like!

Prolonged engagement

Give those photos some mojo because in addition to the interactive originality visual media infuses into the social media matrix, they hold attention longer and stronger. The explosive development of Pinterest, a site that allows users to accumulate a cyber-collage of visual content, is shocking marketers with users averaging 97.8 minutes per use.

Studies have shown that posts on the site are generating far more traffic than social media giants Twitter, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn and Google+, making it one of the most influential social media platforms of all time.

Unlike with text, consumers are not simply skimming content, but actually slowing down and submerging themselves in a headspace that engineers long-term connections.With a more organic feel than text, visual media is dominating the communications frontier because seeing is believing.

The images shared time and time again are the ones that hit a nerve with people, evoking emotion and tapping into a sense of humanity. Maybe that’s humour or inspiration, sadness or a rush of adrenaline, but as I learned in my brief foray into internet dating, you get a lot more out of an image than just what you see.

Keeping it real


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I was riding the bus when a boy no longer amused with his video game chucked it aside and started digging through a tote. He wailed his displeasure when all he produced was a half eaten pack of crackers and some hand wipes––his digital needs remained unsatisfied.

At his age, my brothers and I were swaddled in fluff and kicked out the back door with nothing but our imaginations, five miles of wilderness, and whatever the cat dropped on the doorstep. Entertainment was entirely dependent on creative cunning. We spent our days galloping through the underbrush, building mud mansions and catching salamanders to live inside them. We once amused ourselves for three days straight just digging a big hole.

At at what point along the way did we stop being comfortable inside our own heads? In the digital age, people have become too impatient to actually sit back, relax, and enjoy the solitude of an uncharted moment.

Today, immediacy rules every sphere of human interaction. We want to know it, we want to know it now, and we want to move on. The world is at our fingertips every second of every day and as a result, some of the greatest opportunities to commune with a moment pass by unappreciated.

It’s convenient to wake up and check my emails, text, Whatsapp, Instagram, and Facebook all  before  getting out of bed, but sometimes I need to leave the smartphone at home and reconnect with raw reality––the kind you can see, smell, taste, touch and love.

Born frisky but not foresighted


Grownups

Twenty seven years old. I have written it the long way, because it takes the visual impact of each syllable to fully appreciate the longevity of the age. As anyone who has made it past a quarter of a century knows, the birthdays flit past with less ceremony and twice as much reflection.

With each year gone by, the line between  retrospect and regret is increaslngly more defined and I find myself in a state of naked awareness. Everyone has moments from their past they would like to forget, but there is no greater lesson than failure.

For me, this is not a time to agonize over the cliff not scaled or the half baked cake. It’s a time to bask in the honesty of my darkest moments and gain a more realistic sense of self.

Reviewing  the frenzied scribbles of my journal, I find it littered with comments like “future Jessica slaps you here” or “indoor scooter-ball will never be a good idea”. Looking back, these are the notations I value most.

Where would I be if I didn’t take something away from a good crash and burn? Surprisingly, dead baby jokes are never the way to go on a first date, although terribly effective screening. Lately, I prefer confronting animal memes.

Present Jessica knows now that drunken sledding is only ok if your not tied to the dog. Careening down a hill, one boisterous beagle fails to appreciate that zig zags are not a part of the plan. You live, you learn…and then you unhook the leash.

Most importantly, moving forward in age is not a departure from the frolicsome abandon of youth, but an incorporation of it. The stark optimism of a 5 year old, the deviant curiosity of age 10 and the foresight of 27 rolled into one.

May yesterdays floor-cookies bake me a brighter tomorrow!

All things strange and all things beautiful


Leafing through my tattered, coffee and God knows what-smeared journal, I communed with the tornado of decisions that led me to this moment. Career, family, friends, future. Everyone has a plan, but you can’t anticipate the uncharted.

If someone had told me 2 years ago that I would be living in Australia today, I would have said, crackerjacks! No way. It seems like a lifetime ago that a tapestry of coincidental fragments conspired to bring me to Boston’s International Airport with all of my worldly possessions.

I can’t say that it was any one detail that inspired me to abandoned a wonderful and supporting family, stable job, and devoted network of friends for a foreign country. I do know however, that I found the idea intoxicating.

The day I left, so many questions were bouncing around in my head, but only one certainty. I’d never felt more alive. To me, moving 10 thousand miles to the other side of the planet was a delicious challenge. I had something exceptional to prove, I just didn’t know what.

The people I have met, the knowledge I have gained, and the sublime ubiquity of total independence has taught me that the most terrifying thing about life is the thing  you didn’t do. It swallows you whole; a looming nightmare of potentiality.

Settled in Sydney after well over a year, I thrive on a diet of comedy and common sense. Cultivating a clarified identity, the purpose of this blog is to record every current of excitement, every epic fail; all things strange and all things beautiful.

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