Let the picture do the work in social media!
Benke Carlsson, vice-president of communications agency "Publik", and expert on social media shows us where to begin.
Why use images in social media?
"Because great pictures cut through the noise in a completely different way than text. There are plenty of statistics to show that pictures on Facebook and Twitter drive interest and traffic. We live in a very visual time and people like to take and look at pictures. So if you want to have success with your social media efforts your visual communications should be well thought out. Maybe even let the image 'take the lead', which can be a bit awkward for communicators who often come from a very text oriented world. The reward may be a stronger brand, more leads and increased visibility in all digital channels. I feel as though the image holds great importance in this kind of context where values are made up of relationships and recommendations."
What kind of images are generally suitable for social media?

"A good picture tells a story. This applies to all media. But a shareable image is often a bit odd, funny or touching on a personal level. We look for pictures you can take in and that feel good enough to share with others. This can be a challenge for companies. Many of the images that are used for publication in customer magazines, on websites, press releases and annual reports are often officious and doctored. The worst are the low-quality genre pictures that some insist on using."

"I think you should dare to be more personal and make an effort - let go of the tedious, serious and over selling.  Dramaten, Sweden's national theater, uses 'behind the scenes' info. A good example of a smart and thoughtful Instagram, and a fun use of the moving image. They have a clear goal and implement the investment in a consistent manner." (www.dramatenplay.se/bakom-kulisserna/)
What should we think about?
"You can think like this:
1. What in our business is visually based looking from our audience's perspective? Can we offer something that has benefits for them, something that makes them a little happier or smarter?

2. What about our audience is visual? Can we share or curate other people's material to show that we love our business and care about the issues? Everything does not need to come from us ourselves.

3. What would you yourself share? Step out of your business clothes and think about what attracts you to comments and encourages you to share content. What images make you choose a particular travel destination over another?"
Is there a difference on how to use images in the different channels - Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest?

"The basis is the same. A really good picture does the job. The difference is who's in the audience, how they use the different channels and then there are some prerequisites that are good to know. Most things are quickly learned, but your homework is to try to understand and interact with the intended audience. If you are selling things and want to use images, you should keep an eye on their buying habits. Where they are, what they are triggered by, and what do they need to do during the process to choose you? Social media, like Facebook, provide opportunities to test the impact of the images. So you can optimize your visual content incrementally. I would also like to strike a blow for photo blogs, so that you can create a more controlled area and a place where you can spread out a bit more."
What is storytelling with the help of pictures in social media?
"It means that you trust the story that the picture tells, starting with the story instead of thinking 'it would be fun to have a picture here.' And here there are lots of possibilities with social media because the audience is already out there, it's relatively easy and cheap to publish and distribute images. And for those willing and able to engage in said conversation, there is much to gain."

"Why not work with more pictures, cartoons or themes? Focus on drama and daring contrasts and reflect on what makes things exciting. Furthermore, the image is a fantastic way to highlight people. We get to see who they are, what they do and what they think. In this area I think many have much left to do regarding social media. It is a little too stiff and boring. Equally important, listen to others' stories about your business and your industry. Take note of them, spread them and let them create their own photo stories."
Can you give more examples of companies that you think have a successful image strategy in social media? And why?

"I like what Doctors Without Borders does. They want the personal stories to show both what they do and what causes a particular humanitarian crises. Here, it is not the quality but the content that is important. I also think the Swedish insurance company "IF" is doing a good job, with the latest viral videos which offer knowledge, for example, about how to pack a suitcase (here you will find the video). WWF is in a class by itself. They are very successful and have a good cause that suits social media, but the success is based on a very well designed analysis of data and behavior."
Benke Carlsson's top tips on how to become better at using pictures in social media:
• Consider images from the beginning. Too many ideas stall because we do not have time to get the right materials on time. And do not let the social media wind up at the end.

• Do not forget moving images. Why not try to do interviews, invitations, instructions and introductions with videos? Try it on the next press release. And avoid a camera standing at the back of the room with a clumsy sound recording during conferences.
• Try a little harder. Offer knowledge and ideas. Invite others to join in. Show you care by participating in the conversation.

• Keep an eye on the audience. Ask yourself what they want. And think about what they don't want. Why not gather your thoughts in a picture policy?

• Try the unexpected or different. Is it possible to show things that only few people know? Trends, tips or tricks they may not have not thought of?

• See how the pros do it. Why not be inspired by those that are really successful? What is being done by Humans of New York that makes them so successful? (Humans of New York began as a photo blog showing portraits and stories about people living in New York.) Currently, Humans of New York has 9.3 million followers on Facebook and has received numerous awards. Visit their website here!

• Have a budget. Good pictures cost money. Sometimes you need an illustration. Sometimes you need a really polished professional video. Don't buy in to the notion that social media will always provide you with free images.

Benke Carlsson is vice-president of the Swedish communication agency "Publik", and is also a frequent lecturer and course leader on the subject of social media.
CHRONICLE Memes are perfect for communicating with younger social media users
There are few groups of people that scare communicators as much as groups that are younger than themselves. Right now memes are hot, and we asked Elin Amberg, social media analyst at Swedish communications agency Wunderman and full-time consultant at Microsoft to sort it out for us. What are memes and how can we use them?
"To some, the term meme is a question mark - to others the term is perhaps most synonymous with a funny picture that includes accompanying text. Meme is an English term, which originally means the dissemination of cultural information, and it was coined by Professor Richard Dawkins.

The new meaning of the term, as an internet phenomenon, is based on the content of an origin, usually an image, which has changed its meaning due to, for example, a text. Simply said, a picture with a twist.

One of the more famous examples of memes is called 'Doge' and depicts an Asian spitz breed dog and related text in misspelled English. It was this imagery that the largest public transport company in Sweden, SL (Stockholms Lokaltrafik) and their advertising agency DDB, recently snatched up in their advertising for SL's summer fare card. The campaign billboards adorned Stockholm advertising billboards during the summer and received a lot of attention. Partly because many thought it was a fun concept, but the campaign was also criticized because many outside the target group did not understand, or thought the misspelled English was a test on bad language.

SL's meme-inspired advertising was targeted at 20 year olds and is therefore a good example of how advertising messages can be streamlined through a target group customized contemporary package. It is also an example of how knowledge of an audience can be utilized to achieve positive results.

People up to 25 years of age are far more active in social media than older generations. There are many surveys that have clearly shown that fact. They are also more active on the web via their mobile phone which creates totally new opportunities for communication.

When the screen size is more limited, memes serve as a space-efficient tool to quickly get the message across. It is no wonder that memes have become a popular Internet phenomenon. A visual format that easily conveys the message in a package that the target group is accustomed to.

However, popular culture standards are not uncompromising. They set double demands on companies trying to keep up with their target audience. Not only a stylistic change but also a legal approach; when the audience needs to be reached via digital spaces, where the rapid development creates a different identity, and above all, a different language requires a more agile development concept.
One of the most difficult challenges is to follow a visual language that the target audience identifies with, without violating copyrights. Within the new culture it is common for individuals to 'recycle' an original image by adding their own text or make a less pictorial change. A type of image usage that is not consistent with copyright law.

Instead, there are two more legal options to consider. First, new memes can be produced by inspiration of a well-known phenomenon without copying the original. It is possible to take out the main components of the spitz dog and the lack of English in order to create something of your own that follows the meme pattern but remains in the context of your company's ethics. Another way is to create completely custom memes by combining image and text in a humorous way. Memes, after all, are all about taking something recognizable and giving it a new twist."

by Elin Amberg
Lots of office rats!
There are few things our customers have asked for more than business pictures. We asked some of our best photographers to take on the subject and here are the results - about 500 new images about working life waiting for you right now - and more to come! Click on any image to see to all the new images.