Stock photography has come a long way in the last few years. Don't get us wrong, there is still a lot of it out there that will do your brand more damage than good, but on the whole it's relatively easy to find appropriate, brand-enhancing images for your collateral and online content.
You won't always have a collection of professional photos of you and your business. Stock photos are perfect for blog posts, social media content, eBooks and newsletters.
Unsplash was one of the first sites to disrupt traditional stock photo offerings (like Shutterstock and iStock). Its images are amongst the most authentic, creative, and contemporary.
Pexels is another good all rounder that helps you avoid resorting to daggy stock photography. It also has an excellent collection of stock video, and an assortment of curated collections to browse.
You'll definitely find some treasures in Pixabay's photo library if you search for long enough. Where Pixabay really shines though, is for illustrations and vector files. Check it out for resources to use for DIY marketing collateral.
Negative Space is best for corporate and architecture shots. It also has a vast collection of typography images (think street signs, and retro and neon signage) and architecture.
At Social Broker, we have tried and tested many stock photography sites (there are a good thirty or so that we've not even mentioned here). Sometimes the free offerings – as much as we all appreciate them – just don't have what we need, or perhaps we want to avoid using the usual suspects. Our favourite paid subscriptions are with these sites (in order from most loved to less so):
Twenty20 is our pick out of the dozens of stock photography libraries we've tried. Browse their artfully curated collections for inspiration or to create your own cohesive library of images. Subscribe through Envato for around $300/year.
Adobe Stock is handy if you're looking for something very specific, due to their robust search and filtering functions. You'll find many 'visual pun' / metaphoric images, which is a style we feel has had its day.
Shutterstock has the most rigorous search capability, including being able to specify whether an image includes people and even to filter by ethnicity (helpful for ensuring representation). Plus, it's the biggest stock photo library, so it would be remiss of us to leave it off our list.
Avoid choosing images that look overly staged, cheesy, or scream 'I'm a stock photo!' It's one of those 'you'll know it when you see it' scenarios.
If you're using images that include people, consider whether they look like real people in 2020. Bad stock photography can look dated (usually because it was shot many years ago). Good stock photography, on the other hand, will often feature 'real' unposed people in believable settings and natural lighting.
You also need to ensure the photos you choose reflect your target audience – which we're guessing aren't all as white, straight, conventionally attractive and with an early 2000s sense of style as some of the bad stock photography out there is!
To maintain a cohesive visual identity – across everywhere you publish content – you might want to consider sourcing photos in bulk. This way, you can see how they'll all work side-by-side. So rather than searching for, and choosing just one photo, download 50 at a time to create your own library of images.
We offer an image curation service. What this means is that we'll spend hours scouring premium photo libraries to find the right images that showcase your brand's values and connect with your audience. Find out more here.
Getting it right on social media marketing is a matter of being sensitive to the challenges your audience is facing, and staying true to your brand values.
By now, you’ve probably already amended your customer communications. You’d have sent a COVID-19-related message to your mailing list to update them of your plans and to assure them you’re here to help. By and large, these emails have struck the right balance of pragmatism and sincerity. This is impressive given there’s no playbook for any of this.
Your focus to-date has likely been on the operational aspects of how your business, team and customers are affected and how to adapt to the constantly shifting situation.
As you start to gain clarity on what undertaking business looks like for you in this strange new world, it’s vital to revisit your social media strategy.
No matter which sector you operate in, social media marketing will increasingly require your business to communicate with candour, level-headedness, and above all: compassion.
When this is all over, people will remember whether you acted like a dodgy salesman or cemented yourself as their trusted provider.
If your social media posting is automated, review your scheduled content to ensure that the messaging truly embodies your values and brand proposition – as it stands today.
The collective sentiment right now is vastly different to what it was when you originally created your social media content and so naturally it may no longer be fit-for-purpose. The audience you’re targeting have very different needs and wants than they did pre-pandemic.
#FOMO makes way for #gratitude. #YOLO is replaced by caution. High-quality and value replaces thoughtless consumption. Supporting our local tourism industry replaces aspirational holidays in Positano. Greed hasn't been good for a long time, and financial security is sexier than ever. This is all good news for customer-centric finance brokers, who naturally have the customer's best interests at heart.
It's particularly important to revisit any calls-to-action. If they're sales-based, make sure they don't sound like you're launching a going out of business sale. Sure, your 'ad' about refinancing may plant the seed in the customer's mind that they should look into whether they have the right loan product, but if you've not presented yourself as trusted adviser, they'll simply look for another broker - or head straight to the bank.
Successful businesses adapt, and it makes sense that given online traffic has increased around 60% since self-isolation kicked off, and that digital is now one of the few means to reach people, businesses have become more prolific with social media posting.
It’s so important that your business’ increased social media presence doesn’t come across as panicked, out-of-touch or opportunistic. When you suddenly ramp up from posting weekly to several times a day there’s a risk that you won’t have had a chance to ensure it accurately reflects your intent, values and brand persona.
Before communicating with your audience, consider what they might be going through. Spending a lot of time with industry peers or on LinkedIn can fuel a sense of urgency. It looks as though everyone else has already started lemonade production and perhaps you’re worried demand will dry up.
A lot of business-minded people are talking about ‘being a victor not a victim’ and ‘riding the wave of opportunity’. This is fine – and we understand the impetus to be proactive. After all, we are all terrified in the face of so much uncertainty, no matter how much we lather on the bravado.
Do step out of this bubble, though. Consider, for instance that 30% of Australia’s workforce are made up of healthcare workers. These people are not on LinkedIn – being otherwise preoccupied saving lives – and no doubt many of them would bristle at the thought of taking advantage of the current situation for financial gain. The challenge they are facing has been likened to “going into battle with paper shields and toy guns”, although to be fair, they are still employed.
We’re all running businesses, and so there is of course a financial imperative to what we do. We use social media to let people know how our products and services will help them, with the hope they’ll part with their hard-earned cash. No one likes to be sold to, and people will become increasingly cynical of this over the coming months, with businesses making more noise to vie for people’s attention. Getting the tone right is crucial to connecting with people in an authentic and engaging way.
We suggest undertaking a branding exercise to solidify your brand persona as it relates to each social media channel, keeping in mind your LinkedIn voice will likely be different to your Instagram voice. You may have already done this but it’s worth revisiting given the new (and unimproved) environment.
Whatever your brand persona, it needs to align with the experience your customers can expect to receive. A sure-fire way to achieve this is to be clear on your intent. What’s guiding your decision to undertake social media marketing? How does this gel with your overarching purpose?
Bad news is there’s no magic formula for getting it right on social media, and even the most thoughtfully-crafted post can be misconstrued by an audience. Great news is a well-defined rationale or intent statement is the best litmus test for whether you should publish that next post. Treat it as your North Star (and don’t panic post).
Find out more about how Social Broker helps broking businesses develop a distinctive brand the resonates with the ones who matter.
1 in 3 Australians use Instagram, with 9.5M monthly users Australia-wide. It’s the social media platform that gets the most engagement and fortunately it is relatively easy to quickly build a decent-sized audience (in contrast to its sister-platform, Facebook).
There’s immense opportunity for mortgage and finance brokers to build a niche brand on Instagram. However, how can you realistically be expected to create high-quality content alongside mastering the core functions of your role? After all, you’re in the business of finance broking, not social media marketing.
In response to unmet demand, we’ve developed Social Broker, which provides fully-customised Instagram content to enhance your brand, attract followers, and keep you top-of-mind.
However, if you’d rather go down the DIY route, read on for some practical suggestions of what to consider when crafting content for social media.
Tone is absolutely everything. It’s about striking the balance between authoritative and engaging. It’s an opportunity for you to showcase your expertise, brand values and your personality. Your audience needs assurance both that you’re competent, and that they’ll enjoy working with you. This is why generic, head office-generated content often doesn’t get the cut-through and often won't be relatable or compelling - simply because it doesn't showcase you.
We suggest defining your persona before creating your content. Write down the attributes you want your brand to personify. Is your brand ambitious, chic, intellectual / conservative, strong, stable / approachable, helpful, direct / confident, witty, playful. Your brand persona should align with the experience that customers can expect to receive from you.
While Instagram can help you cast your net wider (than traditional word-of-mouth referrals), try avoid taking a scattergun approach. This means identifying who your target audience is. Are you seeking to connect with a certain demography, profession or buying-behaviour? Be clear on who your ideal customer profile, and then design every piece of content with them in mind.
Your Instagram account presents an opportunity to showcase your values, highlight your expertise, educate people, stay top-of-mind and give insight into your personality – so they know what it might be like working with you.
And, to keep you Instagram feed engaging for the long-term, think about what other finance-related topics you could cover. For instance, real estate, interior design, small business/entrepreneurship, financial empowerment for women, growth mindset thinking, financial literacy. The topics you cover will depend on your target audience, and your own expertise and interests. By covering a range of topics you’ll make your account appealing to more people, and improve visibility (via hashtags).
Including a call-to-action in marketing material is something that is drilled into us at every turn. Yet, we need to remember Instagram is a social media channel – so we've got to be social, not 'salesy'. Be very purposeful with your CTAs. Not every post needs to include one, and it doesn’t always have to be a ‘Call me today on 0406 BROKER’. Consider asking questions to build engagement, or provide links to useful tools or articles.