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Don’t Let Visual Media Make or Break your Brand Image

The idiom, “A picture is worth a thousand words” has become especially relevant today. Over the past several years, individuals and brands alike have discovered the power of visual media when it comes to increasing engagement and drawing more viewers to their content. According to Jeff Bullas, articles with images get 94 percent more total views than articles without images, while photos on Facebook receive 53 percent more likes than the average post and 84 percent more link clicks. While visual media can do wonders to positively augment the impact of an article or social media post, it can have the opposite effect if not executed properly or well thought out.

Dropbox diversity drama

Dropbox learned this lesson when the company shared a photo that was intended to highlight their strides toward building a more inclusive company. Initially meant to be a social media post announcing the release of Dropbox’s diversity report, the post turned into a PR nightmare when social media users became outraged at the lack of ethnic diversity represented in the photo. Shortly after the unintended negative backlash, Dropbox came out with a statement explaining the diversity of those included in the picture, but the damage was done. Despite the commendable results of Dropbox’s diversity report, no one took notice because the company was embroiled in controversy.

Three tips to make visual media work for your brand, not against it

Dropbox’s diversity photo fiasco along with other corporate social media fails demonstrate how disastrous visual media can be for an organization, if not used carefully. Here are three tips on how to make sure your visual media helps, rather than hurts, your brand image.

Consult others on your team – The beauty of a team is having a variety of opinions, ideas, and backgrounds. When selecting images or videos to accompany a social media or blog post, check in with other teammates to ensure the images are appropriate, culturally sensitive, follow brand guidelines, etc. What might seem innocuous to you may be incredibly offensive to a potential client or partner. Having a colleague alert you of a distasteful or offensive image or video is much better (and less of a PR nightmare) than to be called out by all of Twitter.

Understand the limitations of visual media – While “a picture is worth a thousand words,” there is some subject matter that 1,000 words are not nearly enough to cover. Visual media is a great complementary tool but should be used carefully when tackling charged topics such as race, politics and sexual orientation. There is a lot of room for misunderstanding with visual media, so when deciding to share images, GIFs or videos for topics like these, there may be a need to further explain with a caption or subsequent post.

If in doubt, do not share – If even after consulting your team and drafting a post explaining your intent, you are left with any doubt about the appropriateness of the image, play it safe and don’t share it. There are always other images or media you can use, but you cannot take back sharing an image that elicits a negative backlash.

Visual media is a powerful tool and should be regarded as such. When leveraging images, GIFs, videos, etc., it is important to be discerning about the media you share on your organization’s channels. Putting thought and consideration into what you share on behalf of your company is an easy way to ensure that a single social media post does not undo your whole brand’s image.

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