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Image Choice: Putting a Friendly Face to your Association's Content

Carefully selecting what images get shared with your audience can do wonders for your association’s marketing efforts. These tips will teach you what viewers look for and how your association can add a unique touch to image content marketing.

Holiday Shaped Cookies on White and Grey Textiles

These days, authenticity is the holy grail of online brand messaging. Though the internet has opened up myriad pathways of communication, there exists an inherent emotional disconnect when interacting with the world through a computer screen. In addition, we have become immune to disingenuous and cliché marketing messages. It’s not enough to claim your association provides members with the utmost support and service—you have to give visitors a reason to believe you. Your association’s image choice may provide just that. Carefully selecting what images get shared with your audience can do wonders for your association’s marketing efforts.

Easy to see, easy to overlook

While there are multiple methods for conveying a true sense of authenticity to your members, many overlook the impact of image choice when it comes to content—and that’s understandable! When dedicating your time to the constant task of producing sharable content or updating your website, it’s easy to fill in your white space with a free stock photo and call it a day. After all, a stock image is better than no image; it’s fast, it’s cheap, and it’s effortlessly professional.

However, with the help of a photographer or a creative mind on your association’s staff, you could be doing more for your organization through your image choices. The right pictures have the power to emotionally invest your audience and communicate a genuine sense of connection to your members.

This connection is important, because at the end of the day, your audience’s decision-making is based on their emotional response. Do they trust your association to provide the services and support you claim? Are they emotionally invested enough to dedicate their time and energy into your organization? Will they genuinely and passionately advocate the benefits of your association to others? Your image choices can either help solidify your audience’s emotional connections or hold them at arm’s length.

Let’s go over a few tips that can help your association select the right images to market to your current members and potential newcomers. These tips will teach you what consumers look for in image content, as well as what your association can do to add a unique touch that keeps members coming back for more.

The power of a smile

We are all programmed to respond to human faces. Our brains are wired to focus on them, read emotions, and recognize specific features with uncanny cellular accuracy. There’s even a part of the brain dedicated to responding to faces—the Fusiform Gyrus, if you were wondering. Whether considering images for your association’s website, blog, or other marketing materials, it’s important to put all this dedicated brain space to work! Not only are faces an attention-grabber for your audience, they also help form a sense of human connection in a computerized landscape. When you can’t be there in person to deliver your membership pitch, it’s good to show your audience there is a person somewhere behind that screen.

With our brains trained for facial recognition, when something doesn’t quite fit, we notice. I’m sure you’ve gone to a company’s website and seen a photo of beautiful office people that was perfectly posed, perfectly lit, and definitely not a picture of anyone’s HR department. Your brain knows the difference between a stock photo and the genuine article, and so does your audience! With that in mind, it’s important you present members with an authentic self. Give them images that provide an inside look at who you are as an association, where you work, what you do, and most importantly- what you look like as a whole.

How to give your organization a personal touch

Here are a few tips your association can use to present images that members can interact and relate with. Try incorporating one- or all!- of these tips into your current image selection process:

Use pictures of people and faces.

We’ve done a lot of speaking on the importance of facial recognition in terms of relatability. So, it’s time to put that practice to work- by using more pictures of humans and faces throughout your association’s content. Instead of staring at abstract patterns or a generic computer screen, your audience will feel like they are getting to know you. In addition to creating a personal connection, using pictures of people’s faces has been shown to increase conversion rates in advertising. You can put this to work in your own promotional materials to help boost shares and engagement, too! Ditch the abstract pictures and trade in for a face members can call home.

Avoid stock photos.

Using stock photos is the easy choice, but it’s not helping you build trust with your audience .Instead of using staged pictures, hire a photographer to capture real moments at events and around your workplace. These photos should be used on your website to help give a warm welcome to your visitors and help them see who you really are as an association. With a few good photoshoots, you can create enough material to use in any place you might currently need a stock photo; blog posts, emails, banner ads, social media posts, etc.

Working around a budget? Another great alternative that gets members involved is to have members send in association-related images for you to use. You can make it into a contest- the best image each month receives a small prize of some sort. Members will have fun working with your association- boosting not only your image quality, but your credibility and member communication as well. There are multiple ways to steer clear of stock photos. Use your association’s creativity to make amazing pictures happen around the office!

Personalize your communications.

Images can help keep things personal between you and your membership. You can help put a face to the members of your organization by including a headshot in your email signature or using an avatar in your live chat feature. According to a 2015 psychological study, this type of personal pictorial representation helped increase satisfaction with a brand community over the long term, leading to more purchases and brand advocacy. It’s amazing all you can do with a little photo! You can also create a section on your website for your staff directory that includes helpful headshots. This way, members, businesses, and anyone else can see exactly who they’re speaking with when they look to reach out.

Personalize your communication with headshots and staff photos. Instead of appearing as a static entity, your association can come to life on the screen. With a little extra effort, your audience will see real people engaging in a living, breathing organization that is connected with its membership. As for your members—they’ll feel more engaged and represented than ever. It’s a win-win! Put these practices into work and see how it changes the way people see your organization.