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How to: taking great photos for your socials + website

How to: taking great photos for your socials + website

Photography is so important for business. You know the old saying; “a picture tells a thousand words”. This has never been truer than in our social media age. Stats show that people engage more with images than text (and videos more than images… but that’s for another post).

Unfortunately, we come across too many small and even medium-sized businesses that are either not sharing any images on their website or social media profiles, or the ones they do are doing more harm than good. Remember, your online presence is all about building trust with potential customers. Everything you present about your business online is sending messages to customers about who you are.

With that in mind, what do you think blurry, pixelated photos are saying about your business? The answer is; nothing good.

When thinking about social media for small business, quality, high-resolution images are imperative to showcase your business’s professionalism, and encouraging potential customers to see you as a trustworthy business they would like to engage. Sharing photos could be as simple as posting photo updates and product displays on Facebook and Instagram or on a thriving website. But how do you manage to get these high-quality, client-winning images without paying a professional photographer to chase you around all day?

Take a look at our comprehensive guide to taking photos on your smartphone for business:

1. Good lighting

Low-light does not produce clear results and you will find yourself left with a blurry, unappealing photo and a lost subject.

Where possible, use as much natural light as you can. A good amount of light from the sun filtering through a window, or photos taken outside, are usually crisp and coloured well. When posting on social media for small business, a well-lit photo will be your best friend. If you don’t have the luxury of using natural light or need to take photos at night, make sure any lights or lamps you use have strong cool-white light bulbs and are positioned so that they don’t cast shadows that take the focus away from your subject.

Handy Tip

Cup your hand over your phone when taking a photo outside in full sun – it will cut down the amount of lens flare you get on your photo and make your subject clearer. Just be sure not to capture your hand in any part of the photo!

2. Avoid using the flash

Where possible, try to avoid using your smartphone camera flash. A flash often makes a subject overexposed and throws off any quality on the photo. It also makes it really difficult to correct the image in programs such as Photoshop. As part of our social media marketing services for small businesses, we often receive images from clients and complete a few whizz-bang tricks to optimise the image. However, if a flash has been used badly, it makes it near impossible for us!

3. Line up those parallels

A simple way to take an appealing photo is to ensure that any natural lines and edges that appear in your photo are parallel with your camera edge. For example, if you are taking a photo of the horizon, try to ensure that the horizon line is straight (parallel to the top and bottom edges of your camera). Similarly, if you are taking a photo of a bookcase, try to ensure that at least one or two straight edges of the bookcase are exactly vertical or exactly horizontal (making them parallel to your camera edges).

A helpful tool to use for this is the grid setting on your smartphone. The grid setting superimposes a set of lines on to your camera view that allows you to line up subjects in the same parallel as the top and bottom edges and side edges of your camera.

To switch the grid setting on …

  • iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.
  • Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “grid lines” option to “on.”

4. Give the subject some breathing room

While it is important to focus your photo on your subject, we often find that it is more appealing to viewers to see a subject cleverly balanced with its surroundings. The Rule of Thirds applies in this instance, often encouraging photographers to keep the subject (your product, your staff, etc) within one third of the photo, and leave two thirds of the photo as “negative space” (the wall behind your product, the garden behind your staff). This helps your subject stand out more. It also can allow room to move for when different social platforms crop your image.

social media marketing for small businesses birdcage marketing mackay brisbane sydney

5. Different perspectives give different photos

Taking photos from different angles can give your subject a whole new look. Don’t be afraid to play around with obscure angles (like birds-eye view, flat-lays, wide-angle with ample negative space) and keep in mind your “line of sight”. For example, what is in the background of your shot? Is something making a reflection in your photo that has sneakily captured you in the shot? Always be aware of what else has crept into your photo while you’ve been focusing on your subject.

Our experience in social media management has shown that it’s sometimes an unexpected perspective of a photo which delivers the best results; so get creative.

Handy Tip

Use visual symmetry and give your photo a natural balance.

6. When photographing people, take candids

It can be great to take posed photos for celebratory keepsakes or introducing staff members on your social platforms, but seeing people in-action can be much more interesting. It can also show off your product or service in a more relatable way for your customers. As a small business social media marketing company, we find that posts which look more natural get the most engagement. Your audiences love getting a backstage-pass to your business. They love seeing what makes your business tick, which is why candid photos work best.

Ideas for candid photography could be happy snaps of your staff as they naturally work on-the-job, or informative photos of someone using your product as your customers would at home. Sometimes taking multiple photos one after the other can help get the best candid photo of your subject.

7. Touch the screen to focus

Tap the screen of your smartphone where your subject is to focus on it. This prompts the smartphone to optimise the lighting of the photo for your subject and to ensure that your subject is the focus of the photo.

8. Avoid the zoom function on your smartphone

The zoom function distorts the resolution and produces a blurry and pixilated photo. Instead, take a wide-angle shot (if you can’t get as close as you want to) and use the crop function later on in your phone editing tools. That way, the quality of your photo is not lost but the focus is still on the subject you intended. 

9. Use your phone editing capabilities

Nearly all smartphones have photo editing tools available now without having to download any additional applications. Editing your photo can make it more visually appealing for your customers by brightening colours, contrasting your lights and darks, and allowing your subject to stand out even more so.

Here is a quick rundown of the basic editing functions you might be able to use to enhance your photo (keep in mind, too much editing will lessen the quality of your photo!):

Brightness

This one speaks for itself. Adjusting the brightness of your photo can enhance details that were lost in darkness and can make light areas pop. Use this tool sparingly as pushing the brightness right up the extreme can severely lessen the crispness of your photo.

Contrast

Using the contrast function will brighten your light areas and darken your shadowed areas to create a crisp photo that stands out.

Saturation

Boosting the saturation tool will enhance the colours of your photo, and reducing the saturation to its lowest point will completely remove the colour from the image and turn it into a black and white photo. The saturation tool is handy for when you don’t have optimal lighting on your subject and need to give the colour of it a little freshen up to match what it looks like to the human eye.

Crop

The crop tool gives you the ability to trim edges off your photo and cut it down to focus in on your subject.

Handy Tip

Try not to use the pre-determined filters set on your smartphone. They are over-used and you lose some of the quality of the photo.

Hopefully, these recommendations on how to take a quality photo on your smartphone will serve you and your business well. Showcasing your products and services on a regular basis to your audience with quality photos can only ever boost your brand and identity. If you’re looking for help with social media marketing for small business, feel free to get in touch!

In the meantime, happy snapping!

 

 

 

Instagram for business: the rundown of features (including Instagram Collections)

Instagram for business: the rundown of features (including Instagram Collections)

Instagram has come a long way since June 2016. There are many benefits of Instagram for business but in under one year, we’ve seen major algorithm updates, the creation of business profiles, stories and now, collections. As social media marketing specialists, we work with a number of Australian businesses and the general consensus is that of confusion, now that Instagram is getting all tricked-out.

It’s no secret Instagram isn’t shy to “adopt” competitor features. Since being acquired by Facebook we’re seeing a very similar business profile system, complete with boosted post functions. It’s all but made Snapchat obsolete with the stories feature, and now it’s stomping on Pinterest’s territory with the collections feature.

So what are the actual benefits of all these new features to the business user? Let us review these features and explain the benefit to business, as social media marketing specialists:

Benefits of Instagram for business profiles

To switch from a regular account to a business account is ridiculously simple and at this stage, we’re only seeing positives for the business user.

As Instagram explains:

“Business profiles are a free feature for accounts wanting to be recognized as a business on Instagram. With a business profile, businesses can choose how they want their customers to get in touch with them: call, text or email with a tap of the contact button as well as get directions. Business profiles also unlock access to insights and the ability to promote.”

This contact button is particularly handy for businesses, as it gives potential customers a one-step option for contact. Simply tap the “contact” button on the business’ profile and you’ll start the phone call in the Call app.

Some businesses are sceptical to switch to a business account as they fear their posts will become less visible (see: Facebook algorithm). However, at this stage, we’re not seeing any decrease in visibility due to switching (however this could change in the future if Instagram wants us to start paying for boosted posts).

There’s also the added feature of “insights” which provides full analytics on business posts. With this feature, business users can get to know what posts are getting the most engagement, and other insights to better understanding their audience.

The verdict: now is a great time for businesses to switch to an Instagram business account. With added features and currently no effect on post visibility, it’s a perfect fit for any business.

Business Instagram profiles with Birdcage Marketing Mackay

Instagram stories

Instagram introduced stories back in August 2016 and by the end of 2016, had over 150 million users every day. Instagram stories are video or images which are posted separately to your feed and disappear after 24 hours. You can add markups, stamps, use the Boomerang tool and even record live video to enhance your stories.

In essence, Instagram stories are considered totally separate from your regular Instagram feed. Some Instagram users engage with both stories and the regular feed, some just the feed, and others only the stories.

The point is, it’s another vehicle to showcase your brand – it allows you to be more “raw” and “behind-the-scenes” because of the transience of the content. The Live function is especially beneficial as it will actually notify high-engagers of your profile that you are live, therefore prompting users to log on directly to see you and your brand.

The verdict: your business should try leveraging both the standard Instagram feed and stories to engage audiences. Different people consume content in different ways, so you need to get to learn how your target market wants to interact with your brand. If you notice a huge engagement on stories, that’s where you can then direct resources, however, if you’re only getting a couple of views, be sure to funnel time and energy into a highly engaging profile. 

Business Instagram stories with Birdcage Marketing Mackay

Source: FabFitFun

NEW, NEW, NEW: Instagram Collections

You may-or-may-not know that you can “save” other people’s posts to your profile since December 2016. Any saved posts remain private (only you can see them). Now, as of this month, you can create different Boards – sorry – “Collections” to save these posts into. Just think Pinterest but… actually just think Pinterest. Because that’s exactly what it is.

Whilst this feature is so new there is yet to be any data released, we know that since December 2016, just over 46% of users have actually “saved” a post. For now, Collections remain private, however, we’re speculating this won’t last long.

The verdict: don’t be afraid to jump on a new feature when it launches. Whilst Collections are still private, our prediction is that Instagram is trying to get users to categorise content and will eventually provide an option to make these boards public. If your business has already started using this feature, it will be ahead of the curve when new changes occur. So give it a go!

Business instagram collections what they are with Birdcage Marketing Mackay

Source: The Next Web

Side note: Instagram Direct

Whilst this isn’t a huge feature, we thought it was worth noting that users can actually send you direct messages through Instagram. A lot of businesses don’t know this and potential client interactions can go cold if you don’t respond quickly. Make sure you check your Instagram Direct inbox to ensure you’re not losing any potential leads.

Business Instagram direct messaging with Birdcage Marketing Mackay

Source: Simple Help


If you’re thinking about getting your brand on Instagram, or need help building your brand presence and engagement, get in touch with Birdcage Marketing. We’re social media marketing specialists for micro, small and medium sized businesses, and would love to learn more about your brand.

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