Selfies can be a great addition to your branded image library...really?
...yeah, you read that subject title correctly - a professional portrait photographer championing the...ahem, “selfie,” as a viable option to post on your professional, social media feeds.
(I know the younger me is giving the current me a dirty look, but, I'm just avoiding eye contact at all costs until I get through this post to explain what I mean!)
For many years, I’ve detested the notion that random snapshots taken with a camera phone was an option for promotion for my clients, mostly because I've felt that these images are more self-serving in nature, since they generally aren't captured to speak to anything outside of the experience for the person in the photo. As a result, I've instructed clients to keep selfies out of their professional feeds.
Now listen, I've taken a couple myself throughout the years, so, I'm not speaking from atop judgement mountain poo pooing the idea, but, I never used these photos for anything beyond silly posts.
After chatting with a couple clients about it and on content creation from new perspectives every day, I've warmed up to the idea...slightly, :)
When your self-portraits can be paired with entertaining, informative and/or inspiring stories written in the captions that relate directly to your brand, they become image assets.
I'm not suggesting that self-portraits can replace a high-volume, image library of expressive, lifestyle portraits (disclaimer, I might be biased about that one). I do feel, however, that a sprinkling - albeit a sparse sprinkling - of well-placed and timely selfies posted on your professional, social media feeds would serve to benefit you, your brand and your followers.
Mixin' it up - by including some self-portraits in your content calendar, they break up the constant and predictable flow of lifestyle portraits and other professional images, while still reinforcing the same brand identity.
Surprise, I'm Human! - selfies pierce through the 4th wall, so to speak, for your followers. There’s an undoubtedly staged element to professional portraits, and by occasionally posting self-portraits that have an impromptu vibe to them provides followers a feeling of having the inside info on you and your life, endearing yourself to them.
More selfies = longer shelf life for your current image library - by including self-portraits, that means you're able to save those professional lifestyle portraits for a later date, thus allowing yourself some extra time before your next branded, lifestyle portrait session.
What types of selfies should you be incorporating into your social media content? Well, there's endless opportunities for that - one, quick glance on Instagram or Facebook will show you that - but, within the context of a professional, social feed, several options quickly come to mind:
With a client(s)
These snapshots can provide you with great images to tell a story about this particular client's journey, from where their business was to where they are now because of you, written in a manner that inspires your ideal clients to imagine how working with you will make their lives better!
At an event your speaking or sponsoring
Wouldn’t it be awesome to post a quick selfie of you on stage, or by your booth, or with your fellow panelists, and then relay your feelings and emotions about that moment to your followers, so that they can feel as inspired in your achievement.
With family and friends
Cute, entertaining and fun moments with family and friends that are relatable to your followers, yes; last night at the bar after a few rounds, no.
Celebrating a huge accomplishment
Did you just book a huge deal? Helped your client achieve an otherwise impossible goal? What a great time to to take a selfie, yay! It's always great to share successes with your followers, and sharing milestones passed help inspire the flock - and you, too, by the way, :)
If this works for your business and brand, throwing in the occasional, silly moment is a good thing to break things up. It’s humanizing, which always helps towards endearing yourself to your followers and ideal clients.
Although there’s a lot of positives to adding selfies into your social feeds, not all selfies are created equal, folks!
Here are some things to keep in mind when you impulsively pull out the phone to snap a quick one:
Although it's only a camera phone, make sure the shot technically is okay.
Lighting, focus and composition still count, regardless if you paid someone to take the picture, or you took it on yourself. Avoid distracting viewers with bad lighting, shaky focus and cropped-out faces by finding decent light (avoid direct sunlight, use a flash indoors), holding the camera steady (use two hands, if you can) and capturing an exposure that's not too blown out or too dark.
Depending on your phone, take 10 minutes to look into how to adjust the advanced features of the camera (how to set the focus point, exposure adjustments and flash options), so when you are in a good self-portrait scenario, you're not fumbling and bumbling with the settings and missing the moment. You're also working a much simpler camera than a pro model, so figuring out the finer details will be quick.
Just because you look good in your outfit doesn’t mean you should post that picture to promote your brand.
Remember, selfies are similar to professional portraits in that they need to tie into a story written out in the caption that speaks to your ideal audience, so, if you took a random selfie one night because you look awesome, post that on your personal page only since that's where the humble bragging about that outfit will shine brighter, :)
You know that crazy high-angle, selfie camera spot...yeah, about that...
...don’t do that if you want to post those pictures on your professional social media feeds. I personally am amazed at some of the selfies I come across where it looks like the camera was floating directly over someone’s head. If you want to continue to do that for your personal page, knock yourself out, but, for professional posts, it would be best to eliminate that tactic.
I know that many people leverage the high angle as a way to capture photos that they feel flatter them the best, but, what it's really doing is signaling to people that you are uncomfortable with something about your appearance, and there's nothing confident, approachable or likable about that. I'm not saying to forego how you look by any means, but, I suggest that if you are going to leverage self-portraits on your professional, social media pages to keep in mind how your followers will perceive these images and that they stay on message and on brand.
No matter how good your selfies are, don't make them a professional, profile image
There is a time and a place for everything, and leveraging a selfie as a profile picture is not the time nor place. Providing alternative and fun content once in a while is one thing; having a selfie be your introduction to prospective clients is another...and it's something that you should avoid.
Profile images are meant to create meaningful introductions when you are not physically present to do it yourself, so it's best to leverage headshots and portrait images that were created for that very purpose. It presents a much cleaner look than a selfie you took at a New Years Eve party 3 years ago.
As we've discussed, self-portraits, if properly captured and leveraged, are a great asset in the image library.
As long as you don't turn your professional feeds into selfie madness, they will be a great addition in providing followers another way of looking into your world and seeing what you're all about and have to offer!
In light of this blog, I felt the spirits inspire me to pick up my IPhone and snap a quick selfie as I wrap up this article:
in addition to improving your selfie game, do you need an image library stocked with branded, lifestyle portraits to help you get the visibility you deserve?
Looking for branded lifestyle portraits that can be used for all of your marketing and promotional needs? Click here to set up your complimentary, 20-minute consultation to talk about it!