Social Savvy: Success with before-and-after photos—why they matter and how to get started – Jan 2022

By Irene Williams

In social media marketing, the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is measurably true. The stats prove that social posts that include images are much more effective than those without pictures. In our screen-and-be-seen marketplace, it’s a constant game of show-and-sell.

Need convincing? Here are a few data points from industry research.
• Visual-based platforms represent the majority of growth (active use, posting frequency) in social media.
• Facebook statuses with images garner 37% to 53% more likes and 104% more comments.
• Images shared by Facebook pages are the most shared, at 55.6%, compared to other post types.
• Twitter posts with photos get retweeted 150% more frequently and receive 89% more favorites than text-only tweets.
• Photo posts sparked 84% more link clicks than text posts in a small study.
• Pairing a relevant image with information increases recipients’ recall by 55% within three days of receiving the message.

The general stats prove the power of pictures in social media, but how can you actively apply this knowledge? I invite you to consider before-and-after photography.

Ours is a visual industry; we’re not just selling flooring, we’re selling the aspiration of great design. Before-and-after images are an excellent form of visual storytelling that conveys the transformative impact of beautiful flooring. While customers may be intrigued by a photo of a finished installation, they could be downright convinced to take action upon observing a space before and after completion.

It’s common knowledge that people are drawn to before-and-after content. On Instagram alone, there are nearly 24 million posts captioned with #beforeandafter. Beyond social platforms, there’s a plethora of wildly successful TV shows and media outlets all about renovations and makeovers. Who can’t resist holding out to see the “after” once we’ve gotten a peek at the “before”?

It makes sense, then, that we hear from leaders in the flooring business that before-and-after photos perform very well in their social media and digital marketing. For many years, I’ve seen real-life installation photos outperform highly produced marketing shots, with engagement exponentially heightened when there’s a “before” pic in the mix.

Suffice to say, before-and-afters are a smart strategy that you should incorporate-though I can almost hear your comments about the challenge of getting or collecting photos from out in the field. I absolutely feel your pain on this, but I assure you it’s worth the effort, as these images can really support your sales. Here are tactical ideas to get you going.

Make project photography a priority and part of your SOP. Every sale is a potential before-and-after story. Train your team members to start asking customers for photos of projects from the get-go. It’s ideal to get shots before, during and after project completion to make this image strategy really effective. You’ll find a fair share of customers are excited by the prospect of documenting their spaces’ transformations. In fact, they’re probably already doing so for their own benefit and just need the nudge to share the photos they’ve taken with your team.

Make it easy-breezy for customers to share images. Be open to receiving images via text, email or online submission form-whatever is preferred by any given customer. Make the sharing of images as barrier-free as possible. Encourage your sales reps to provide their cellphone number so they can receive pics by text. Set up a user-friendly online submission tool that makes it quick and painless for customers to upload multiple pics at their convenience. If a customer is open to sharing photos but lacks follow-through, offer to send someone from your team to the location to take snaps directly. It’s all about ease for the customer and assurance you’ll get the pics you need.

*Note: Have customers sign photo release forms to ensure they agree to your business’ use of any images they submit or that you take of their spaces. These forms can be signed in physical or digital format-and are easy to add to that aforementioned online submission tool, by the way. You can find examples of photo release forms online to create your own.

Make the photo collection process worth the effort for all involved. Offer incentives to customers and your staff in order to compel photo capture and submission. Most parties have the best of intentions when it comes to snapping and sharing pics, but life happens and attentions get diverted. Consider offering customers gift cards as a ‘thank you’ for the sharing of before-and-after images. Provide meaningful incentives for team members who successfully nurture the process to get the photos.

Strive for consistency in photo quality and format. There’s no need for fancy photo shoots to get a before-and-after photo system going. Smartphone photography often does the trick and then some, thanks to amazing camera quality. Still, it’s especially helpful in terms of style and branding to have some consistency in the photography you capture and collect. Request photos that are high resolution with good natural lighting and ask for images in both portrait and landscape orientation to give yourself options for posting. Use a photo editing tool to tweak lighting, etc., as needed for best presentation and a unified style among all your photography.

Get customer testimonials and reviews while you’re at it. A customer who’s willing to share photos and stay engaged throughout the course of a project is likely one who’s willing to provide testimonials and reviews, as well. Incorporate invitations for feedback throughout the process of getting photography. I recommend including fields on your online photo submission form in which customers can share short narratives and rate their experiences with your business.

Use your before-and-afters in all your marketing-not just social media. While these before-and-after shots play extremely well on social media, they’re also very effective across all of your marketing and messaging. Make use of them in blogs, photo galleries on your website, sales presentations and handy printouts to keep around the showroom. Create digital look-books that you can send out in your email marketing. Use the still photography to produce short video content that can be uploaded to all of your social channels, YouTube, website or even on in-store screens that play while people are shopping onsite.

I started with an old adage, and I’ll end with one as well: you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. You may ask 100 customers for before-and-after photos yet only get one, two or a few to supply them, but isn’t that better than not asking and receiving none? Photos matter for your business, so give this strategy your best shot!

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