This became an existential question for me one night. I couldn’t sleep because I was concerned about what this meant for me. If I can’t post personal images to business pages, that means 1/3 of my Instagram photos need to become something else! Since when is social media supposed to be business only?
The question arose because a prominent thought leader suggested that small businesses avoid social media and personal images. What the what? Social media is supposed to level the playing field. It’s supposed to bring big brands to their knees and respond to us little customers with the threat of one negative tweet. It’s supposed to humanize big brands, and do the same for small ones.
With all that in mind, I was left with a big question mark over my head and it bothered me. A lot. Here is my response to the unusual suggestion that small businesses avoid social media and sharing personal images.
YES, IT CAN HURT YOU
We have to be honest, there is a nugget of truth in there. If your business feed becomes an exact reflection of your own personal Facebook feed, you’re failing. Your Instagram feed and your Facebook feed should have a professional look and feel to them. Particularly on Instagram, your photos should be high quality, have a nice layout, a consistent filter, and reiterate whatever copy (words) you are relating. If you have too many photos of your kids or your dog in your business Instagram profile, no-one is going to take you seriously. It’s that simple.
Don’t get me wrong! I love your babies, dogs, kids, and many other strange personal fetishes. I myself had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that my baby’s photos don’t get nearly the likes they do on my personal feed. Most of the time, that’s the way it is. Your photos need to reflect your audience’s interests and unless you’re a mommy blogger, keep the baby spam down. (Your friends still love it though, so go post it on your personal Facebook page, no kidding).
YOU’LL BE OK IF YOU’RE CAREFUL
Now listen very carefully, I didn’t say not to post any baby, dog, or family photos at all. Still throw those in there. They help people get to know you as a person. They are REALLY important. Especially if you have a brand logo filling up your profile pic like I do. Then people really don’t see the person behind the brand name at all unless you show them yourself and your family, furry members included.
Why post personal photos? Because it helps take customers down the road to liking you. And on the interwebs, it’s important to be liked. (Not necessarily by everybody, but somebody – your target market). You want to take your potential customers down the path from know, like, to trust. Once they are at trust, they will be more likely to buy from you. Usually they get to know you from photos and posts, and that’s where they will grow to like you as well.
There’s an important point Instagram Strategist Jenna Kutcher made on this topic as well. It’s this: once they buy your product, what reason do they have to come back for more? Whether we like it or not, we are social creatures. If you are following someone for info, it’s highly likely you are going to grow to like them and keep following them. Don’t even ask me why I follow some social media colleagues that I have nothing to gain from. Their posts make me happy and I like them. For me, that’s enough reason to keep coming back for more. You definitely want that kind of dynamic with your customers. Keep them coming back till you have another product or service they might like to buy.
In conclusion, please do post personal photos to your business feed. Make it 1/3 or 1/4 or whatever amount you feel comfortable with. Just don’t leave them out totally. The bajillion beautiful baby and kid photos you took should not be off limits when good photos can be hard to come by. Try sharing a business point with your personal photo, if you want to make it more business focused. But don’t forget to just share on a personal level sometimes too. That’s what social media is all about: sharing and building relationships, personal images included.