a guide to better social media marketing in 2024

The concept of personal branding is still relatively new in the world of small business so it's understandable when people aren't really clear on what kind of imagery they might need as a small business owner, coach, realtor or content creator. What they DO know are the pain points they're feeling when trying to update their website, find appropriate imagery for their blog post, or keep their social media feed fresh. Here are the struggles I hear about most from brand clients:

  • You're pulling from images and content that is multiple years old and doesn't represent your business the way you want
  • You're struggling with creating posts or social ads using photos that don't have enough negative space for messages.
  • You are using grainy phone images or stock photography to supplement your image gaps, that's either off-brand or just not personal enough.
  • You're pulling your hair out trying to fit existing images into those really skinny header sizes -- you know the ones I mean!

If any of this sounds familiar, then read on, dear friend, for your checklist of 10 essential image types you need for your business this year.

#1: polished headshots

This one is obvious, right? But it's incredibly common for even the most savvy business owners to still be using outdated headshots, iphone selfies, or just the same tired image across everything. Headshots must represent your current look and it's recommended to get new ones every 1-2 years.

For entrepreneurs, you should also have a set of environmental headshots of you in your element (in your shop or office, for example) to have more variety than the traditional head & shoulders image.

If you have partners or employees, do you have recent and flattering images of your whole team both together and individually?

#2: images showing your Process

Potential clients, customers and even followers want to see the behind-the-scenes process and what makes you unique. If you're an artist or creator, how do you come up with your creations? If you're a service provider, what is it like to work with you?

It's not enough to just have smiling at the camera headshots. People need to see more layers of what you do, how you do it and what inspires you, to build trust and confidence.

#3: products & services

Its more powerful to show, rather than just tell, what you offer in the way of products and services. If you have physical products or a store, customers want to see them.

If your services are entirely virtual - get creative about making them tangible for some images. While those images of you working on a laptop are useful to have, we can do better than that. I encourage my brand and corporate clients to make quality prints of their deliverables if they're all digital, in brand colors, even if it's just for the photo shoot. Or pull up your website, podcast or deliverables on tablets or screens for us to include.

#4: Personality

If you are the face of your own brand, your personality needs to shine through in all of your marketing. It can't just be all business all the time - we have lives outside of work and showing some of that makes us more relatable to others. I recommend that my clients define 3-5 pillars that will be recurring themes in their feed. Do you often post about healthy living habits? Being a working mom? Your love of travel? Your alma mater? All of these things help potential clients get to know you and feel potential points of connection.

For life coach Darci Daniels, her Corgi, Moose, features prominently in her social media and so he also made very intentional appearances in our personal branding shoot strategy as well. Her daily walks with Moose are a part of her brand.

#5: Detail shots

Every image in your feed should not just be a picture of you, and you probably don't want it to be. Details, flat lays and even stock imagery (or custom stock imagery, even better) are the filler that help provide balance. But generic stock images don't really say anything unique about your brand or help you stand out from the crowd. A good brand photographer will also capture custom stock-type images that have your own brand identity and details peppered in.

#6: Seasonal

It's easy to get hyperfocused on the here and now but it can be a huge time-saver to plan out the images you'll need for key seasons and rhythms of your business for the next 6-9 months. Is Mother's Day or Christmas a main selling time for you? When you're writing blog posts in summer do you find that the only good images you have are in fall sweaters? I walk my brand clients through the year ahead to identify any big launches and we plan wardrobe and props to ensure they have longevity for their investment.

#7: expressions

When you're writing that blog post about a really hard topic or challenge, such as life coach Darci Daniel's posts to her followers about dealing with anxiety - you can't just pull from a set of happy smiley photos.

Launching a new product or celebrating new customers on your sales landing page? You need some images showing excitement! Want to convey confusion, dismay, fear, surprise to match different blog topics? Yes, yes, yes! Business owners need a bank of imagery that runs the gamut of emotions you might be talking about on your social channels.

Trust me, folks, this is a huge time saver to have at your fingertips.

#8: negative space for PROMOTIONS

These images are evergreen and come in handy when you have news to announce, specials or promotions, or want to call attention to something important. My favorite tool is to use Canva to add in messages to areas of blank space or screenshots onto devices.

Pro Tip: When taking images of blank phone or tablet screens, make sure your fingers don't go over the edges or it will be much harder to cleanly add on a screenshot later.

#9: banners & Headers

We've all felt the pain of trying to find images that work for those super skinny images like blog or website banners, Facebook or Linked in headers. You know the ones where the text or profile bubble keeps covering up key parts of the image until you're ready to throw your laptop out the window, amiright?

#10: launch & celebration images

This category comes in handy for every small business. We all have things to announce, launch or celebrate. Sales landing pages, new subscribers to your newsletter or podcast, purchasers of your e-course? Show them how much they mean to you.