Did You Know… Visual Presence Really CAN Make the Difference

In the spirit of March Madness…

Mashable and Capital One Spark have been running a similar bracket-style challenge to determine America’s Most Social Small Business, consisting of four rounds. On March 18th, the final winner will recieve a feature profile on Mashable! You can follow along with the hashtag #SocialSmallBiz

The challenge is currently on round three this week which focused on how each brand utilizes visuals storytelling in their social efforts — “everything from the images they post on TwitterFacebook and Instagram to the videos on their YouTube channels and their pinboards on Pinterest and quirky content on Tumblr. Visuals are an integral piece of the puzzle when it comes to a quality presence on social media, making this round a key determinate of which businesses are truly the most socially savvy.”

Here are the Final Four…

Blue Bottle Coffee stands out for their commendable effort with creativity and cohesive brand identity in its use of imagery that goes far beyond simply beautiful photos of morning lattes. Blue Bottle’s hand-drawn style images are utilized on a variety of platforms. The company’s blog is chock full of visually heavy content. On Instagram, the brand hosts contests and giveaways to gain traction among its followers, features customers in the store, gives behind-the-counter glimpses into the company’s culture, includes videos — and of course, there’s plenty of artfully crafted images of Blue Bottle products.

Blue Bottle’s visual strategy perfectly captures the artsy vibe of a bustling coffee shop. “We’re careful to make sure that our imagery, just like the experience of our social media, is an extension of our retail stores’ elegance,” the company tells Mashable. “The goal is to put forward an experience that’s equivalent to conversing with a friendly, knowledgeable, and humble barista in one of our cafes. In some ways, their professionalism makes it easy for us on social. We’re just copycats.” With the perfect mix of subtle product promotion and aesthetically gorgeous imagery, Blue Bottle progresses on to the final round.

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Sevenly has an overall visual strategy and strong presence on a variety of platforms, including InstagramTumblrYouTube and Pinterest, featuring cool how-tos, Sevenly product art and logos, behind-the-scenes glimpses of photo shoots,inspirational messagestime-lapse videos, photos and videos showcasing the various charitable causes the brand donates to, and even giving shout-outs to other companies that work with charities. Sevenly engages its audience in conversation via imagery, asking followers on Instagram for their opinions on which charitable causes mean the most to them, since Sevenly works with a new cause each week. On YouTube, Sevenly further delves into its cause-oriented mission and “People Matter” mantra.

A spokesperson for Sevenly says, “Imagery is very important for a business like Sevenly that runs a new campaign every week. Every Monday we start from scratch and inform and educate our audience about the cause we’re supporting. As an ecommerce only business, it’s also very important to show our customers our products, especially since our line of cause apparel changes every week.”

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Beekman 1802 has a gorgeous Instagram stream that showcases life on their farm. Scroll through and you’ll get a sense of the beautiful simplicity of farm life, complete with plenty of “aww”-inducing animal shots. Beekman promotes user engagement on Pinterest with challenges, product posts and behind-the-scenes looks into daily life on the Beekman farm. They feature a number of videos on YouTube, giving more behind-the-scenes looks as “just for fun” videos such as this blooper reel.

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Plated‘s reveals expertly executed visuals, with a strong YouTube and Pinterest presence and beautiful Instagram images. The brand does a great job with community challenges, incorporating the hashtag #platedpics with giveaways and contests to encourage user engagement. Plated goes beyond the typical “food porn” visual strategy (though there are plenty of mouthwatering images on all its social accounts) to give insight into company culture and includes YouTube videos featuring cooking “tips and tricks,” recipe ideas and more. It positions itself as a lifestyle brand, rather than simply a food provider. It’s clear that Plated employs a customer-oriented strategy — not only do they post images, but they also ask for fan and follower feedback and suggestions.

We try to express to our clients how much of an impact social media can make on their business success. We hope this helps point out some of the tactics being used and how they are working for these companies. Check out Mashable’s article, America’s Most Social Small Business, to read more about the contest and how these brands were chosen against their components!

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