When you show the human side of yourself…
…people feel like there’s an entry point into your world.
One of the most asked questions that I field from clients revolves around what they should post about after they get their hands on a pile of branded lifestyle portraits.
As I explain to those who enroll in my Idea Nugget Incubator Program, although it’s essential to illustrate your expertise, and more specifically, show how that expertise helps solve your client’s specific pain points, you also have one other major objective to consider:
You are in the business of building relationships that eventually mature from a follower who appreciates your work to them hiring you for your specialized help.
Talk Like a Human Being
One of the best ways to do that with an audience that’s never met you in person is to create content that breaks the fourth wall and lets them understand who you are as a human being.
What drives you to be the person you are? What do you stand for? What’s important to you outside of your business? Interesting hobbies? Family – is it important to you?
What about your past? How did it lead you to the path you walk on in your life and business today? Had any major setbacks? Struggles with identity? Discovering your passion to serve?
How about the future? What are your goals? Aspirations? How are you working on achieving those goals now?
These are just some of the questions that you can explore through your social media posts and blog articles.
When you create content that goes deep beneath the surface, especially with stories that share vulnerabilities, you’re painting a much more vivid, broader picture of who you are, who you serve and why you do what you do.
As a result, you’re purposefully curating your online presence in a way that shares both your superhero ability to offer the solutions to your client’s pain points while also being empathetic and relatable to those you serve by showing them that you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.
If you only shared expertise-driven posts, you’re missing a golden opportunity to allow your audience to connect more deeply with you beyond the work, and allow them to feel like they are part of your world – and give them the chance to share everything you do with their community.
And when you’re looking to grow a community of advocates, referral partners, and clients, offering your audience an opportunity to build rapport with you through your human being-driven stories is one sure fire way to fan that flame.
What About the Images to Compliment these Stories?
Identifying, writing and scheduling the stories that share your human being side is step one – a very important step one!
But, the work is not done yet.
To ensure that your story has a legitimate opportunity to be seen by your audience on their news feeds, it’s essential that you compliment the story with image content that visually punctuates the sentiment of that story.
Here are a couple of options to keep in mind as you develop more content around this idea of showing your human being side and providing your audience an entry point into your life.
Old Photos From Your Past
Do you have images from the time period that you’re referencing in these stories? If so, these would be ideal to either scan or take a photo of with your smartphone camera and attach it to the posts.
I have written several articles that relate to my struggle with weight and self-esteem, and, for each of those articles, I’ve included photos of me when I was at the height of my weight post-college.
Although I’d prefer to never look at them again, I understand that the image and the story will speak directly to a lot of my clients who can relate directly to this issue.
In addition, using old photos taken “back in the day,” especially on outdated technology, are eye-catching because they look and feel different than photos taken today.
Remember all those old square photos taken with the sepia tint? They stand out, big time, amongst all the other stuff on a news feed simply because they look different. And no, the Instagram filters CANNOT replicate this look precisely in the same way, 🙂
If you discover old photos that visually punctuate the sentiments of the stories you’re sharing, digitize them and use them to your advantage!
Since you don’t have a paparazzi following you around 24/7, you need to take matters into your own camera from time-to-time.
If you’re engaging in a fun hobby or doing something with the family and want to share the moment with those you serve, then grab the phone and snap the shot. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to visually punctuate that story with an image that precisely paints the picture.
You don’t need to have a background in photography to do this, folks.
And don’t worry if the picture is good or bad – just take a couple shots of the moment from different vantage points – wide shot to close up, move from the left side to the right – and when you’re done, take a look at the options and pick the one that looks best to you.
When it’s a selfie or a smartphone shot, no one anticipates that image to aesthetically blow them away – it’s about sharing that moment or insight with those you serve – that’s what counts most in this case.
Branded Lifestyle Portraits
So, what happens when you don’t have an old photo that works or you forgot to take a photo with your smartphone camera?
Well, you could leverage one of your professionally-captured, branded lifestyle portraits to visually punctuate that story, as an alternative.
The key is looking through your image content portfolio and identifying a portrait that compliments and enhances the emotional resonance of the story that you’re sharing.
For example, if you share a story about the death of a parent and how that motivated you to pivot your life in a completely different direction, don’t use an image where you’re wildly laughing.
The emotion of the story and the sentiment of the image are incongruent, and it sends a confusing message to those who read the post.
That seems like common sense, but, you’d be surprised at how many times I’ve come across this incongruence between message and image online.
If your image content portfolio has a variety of images that span the emotional spectrum, you will be in good shape to select an image that makes the most sense for the emotion you’re looking to convey in that piece of content.
So, Should I be an Open Book?
The short answer? Absolutely not.
You are the gatekeeper of everything you share online, so, you decide what’s fair game and what stays close to the vest.
Although I am comfortable sharing many aspects of my life with my audience, I certainly don’t spill the beans on everything. I have a simple rule for myself that I adhere to every time I sit down to write stories that shine a light on an aspect of my personal life:
If I feel this remotely feels like an overshare or is embarrassing to my friends and/or family, I avoid it. If it’s something that I’m comfortable talking about publically and is relatable to my audience, I double-down on it and bring it up when relevant to the lessons I’m imparting on those I serve.
As long as you set healthy boundaries, you’ll provide yourself with a framework when figuring out how far you want to go with sharing your life with your audience.
When you set the intention to connect on a deeper level with those you serve, it helps them see you in a different light.
While they already know that you can help them get past what’s holding them back from the rest of your content, stories that share your human being side allows them to see that you’re real, that you’ve been where they are, and that you care.
If you want to build trust with your audience, lead with heart – they’ll thank you for it by signing up for your services down the line, 🙂
John DeMato is an NYC branded lifestyle portrait photographer and content creation expert who serves speakers, authors, coaches and high-level entrepreneurs across the country. His 50+ page e-book, S.H.A.R.E. M.A.G.I.C.A.L. I.D.E.A.S., lays out the how what and why behind creating a memorable and referable online presence – sign up to get your FREE copy today.