Changing the Face of Downtowns

Say Cheese

Say Cheese

Sep 21, 2012

Photography can be the elephant in the social media room.

It is hard to talk about the importance and power of social media without talking about the importance and power of the images driving the madness.

I am in no way an expert on photography. I take a lot pictures. I have a learned a lot in the past year or so, but I have a long long way to go before I might sort of know what I am doing when I do it. But you don’t have to be a photography expert to know if an image is appealing or not.

The virtual overnight success of Pinterest and Instagram (the iPhone app behind those quirky photos that make a toaster look amazing) have made it clear that consumers love images. Instagram has over 40 million users worldwide and those users are uploading over 5 million photos per day – and it only took 2 years to get to those numbers. Facebook took notice and purchased Instagram for a reported $1 billion. Pinterest, also based entirely on images has taken just one short year to explode into 12 million unique users each month.

Eden Instagram


Retailers using social media successfully are very aware of the importance of the images they are posting.

For example, Eden, a fantastic little store in downtown Des Moines, Iowa is an excellent Instagram and Facebook user. She takes pictures of seemingly ordinary items,  people, or more recently, patio construction, and with one witty caption has my attention – and my dollar.

Notice in this photo, she isn’t talking about products or making a sales pitch. But she is being friendly and interesting and inspiring.

She has also taken the time to mention, photograph, and tag a fellow business owner – a great way to multiply your effort.


Pinterest is another way retailers and e-tailers alike are using images to build business and create a following. Earmark Social, a stationary and paper goods company has over 600,000 followers on Pinterest. She has 94 “boards” or categories,  and only one of them is devoted to her own company’s products. The other 93 boards are inspirational, interesting, informative, and just plain gorgeous. And now, 600,000 people per day see her “pins”. When was the last time you knew for certain you were reaching out to 600,000 potential customers?

All this comes to back to the quality of the images. Pinterest and Facebook users with sub par images simply do not experience the same amount of success from using social media as their photographically savvy neighbors do. It doesn’t mean you can’t have any success without good images, it just means you have the potential for so much more if you do.

So, where do you start?

If your  best photos still look like your two-year-old took them by accident, check out what Etsy is doing. Etsy is an online marketplace for all things groovy and handmade or vintage, and happens to be a fantastic resource for simple photography tips and tutorials. Etsy sellers have learned very quickly that quality images sell more goods – and Etsy has done a great job of providing tools for their sellers to help them be more successful.

Here, you can find articles and videos that are for beginners, but there are also some for those who are ready to step it up a little. The blog is full of great tips on props and “styling” a photograph to make your products, and your overall image, more appealing.

If you aren’t convinced you will ever move beyond your cell phone (which, by the way, can take some pretty amazing shots) try teaming up with a photography student, or budding professional, who needs studio or model work to advance their portfolio. They need examples of their skill level, and you need good shots of your store, products, projects, apparel, etc. It can be a great win-win relationship. And just think about all the people who will see your images on that photographer’s website!

Now, with good photos in hand, get straight to posting and pinning, liking and tagging…all the way to the bank.

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