How to get found online

Wherever your canvas, you need to find a way to stand out

Wherever your canvas, you need to find a way to stand out

Whether you are a small business owner, brand manager, entrepreneur or artist, you face a common challenge: how to get noticed online. How do you connect with the people you ultimately hope will become your clients (and pay you in money/love/attention) if they don’t know who you are? It’s a huge challenge but as a photographer who works a lot with businesses trying to do just that, I’ll try to share what I’ve learned in this (and future posts) on the theme of helping your business stand out and be found.

To begin, let’s understand that there are three main ways your business can be found online: paid media, owned media and earned media. In the following brief post I’ll explain what each term means, ending with a call to action to create great content.

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Yes, people judge you based on how your profile pic looks

Professional headshot

It’s not fair. It’s not even nice, but it seems that people really do make decisions about who you are based on their gut reactions to how you look in your profile picture. As a headshot photographer, I’ve always thought that it was my job to make people feel good and look good when I take their picture (it’s hard to have the latter without the former anyway), but I never gave much thought to why. Then I read this article, “Modeling first impressions from highly variable facial images” – or more accurately, stumbled across it while exploring Pinterest pages on headshots and realized that my work can have a tangible and direct impact on whether someone gets a job, finds a match on a dating site, or gets Friended, Retweeted or LinkedIn. It’s kind of sad, but the truth is, appearances really do matter so you might as well just accept it and try to get the best – and most appropriate – profile photo you can. What works on Facebook (and no, it’s not a good idea to use a photo of your kid as your profile picture there either) doesn’t work on LinkedIn and vice-versa. I’ve written about this before in my post on how to prepare for a photoshoot, and in my post on how your online photo is your avatar, but here are a few thoughts and tips to keep in mind when you realize that it’s time to take your online image as seriously as you do your real world one and update your set of profile photos:

  1. Your online photo is a marketing tool. Perhaps the most important one you’ve got as a shockingly high number of people may not even bother to scroll past your photo if they don’t like what they see.
  2. You can optimize the way you look online. While excessive and heavy-handed use of Photoshop doesn’t really look good (plastic fantastic may work for Barbie but is not recommended for your portrait), that doesn’t mean you can’t have your photo professionally taken, with flattering lighting and lightly retouched to take away distracting elements that take away from your natural good looks.
  3. Choose wisely. Before uploading any photo of yourself, whether it’s for a profile or not, ask yourself if you would feel comfortable with this being on the front page of the New York Times. If not, don’t do it.
  4. Be appropriate: Different online identities call for different looks. While it’s all “you” in the aggregate, a picture you put on Facebook for your friends and family is not necessarily (probably isn’t) appropriate for LinkedIn. Your image should reflect your personal brand in a professional setting, and your personality on more social networks. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but a cropped photo of you from your vacation in Italy is not a good image to lead in with at the head of your LinkedIn profile page.
  5. Don’t do it yourself: while I am a fan of the Maker Movement and respect entrepreneurs and DIYers in general, a good photograph of yourself is harder to get than it looks. I’ve been a professional photographer for over a decade and I wouldn’t take my own photo. In fact, I probably take the worst selfies on the planet. Whether you hire a pro (recommended, of course) or get a friend who knows what they are doing, try to get the best quality image you can get. If you think of your headshot like an online ad for yourself, the cost of paying a professional to take it is negligible compared to the amount of space and views it will garner as you push it out through your various online personae.

As cutting as it sounds, we are quick to judge people on how they look and long to remember our facile first impressions. Make yours count.

The marketing genius of letting people photograph your art

My sun and the Chihuly Sun sculpture

My sun and the Chihuly Sun sculpture

Driving home today listening the Home Run on CBC, I was happy to hear the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is going to be the permanent owner of the Chihuly Sun, thanks to a generous donation by Montreal philanthropist, Van Berkom. I was one of the 270,000 visitors to the exhibition last year on a day I played hookey with my daughter. As she is a budding artist I wanted to expose her to seeing beautiful things, and Chihuly’s glass sculptures fit the bill perfectly. I was thrilled as well, that photographing the art was not only allowed, but encouraged. I realized, while doing it, that this was genius marketing – both by the artist and the museum as it gave visitors the chance to not only experience the gorgeous opulence of Chihuly’s work, but gave them something to share with their friends and across their social networks, spreading both the fame of the artist and perhaps contributing to the record-breaking attendance levels the museum experienced.

I’ve worked for artists before, and photographed events and magazine features in the National Art Gallery of Canada, and I’ve always had restrictions on what I could and could not include in my shot, even if the subjects (people) were simply in the museum and the art was a colourful backdrop. I understand there are copyright issues, but at the same time, as an artist, wouldn’t you want your work to be seen as widely as possible, especially if, as in these cases, the works have already been purchased and are hanging on museum walls?

Chihuly, aside from making stunning works of art, completely understands that while not everyone can afford to take home a $6,000 bowl (on the extreme low-end of his offerings), everyone can still take something away from the exhibit with the photos. And these photos not only allow viewers to have a deeper, more intimate connection to his work, but will also serve as ambassadors for his fame and enhance the cachet for those lucky few who can afford to own his works. Everybody wins.

Here are a few of the shots from that day I spent in the sun, with my little girl. Feel free to share;)

 

 

 

 

Doing good is good for your brand – Jack Hoffman’s story

The story of the Jack Hoffman Star Rookie trading card by The Upper Deck Trading Company

I first heard about Jack Hoffman at an iMedia conference earlier this year, when Chris Carlin, Senior Marketing and Social Media Manager at the Upper Deck Company, a sports trading card company got up on stage and played this video:

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Think Different (ly?)

Chris is a big man with a heart as wide as his smile and a knack for cracking clever jokes, sometimes about Canadians. He is also the originator of the Jack Hoffman trading card idea, the first of a series of collectible Star Rookie trading cards featuring children struggling with paediatric brain tumours.

According to the about page on the Team Jack Foundation site, Jack was “no different than any other little boy growing up in the great state of Nebraska–he loves to play sports, ride bike, fish, hunt, and watch Cornhusker football”. No different except that he had a tumour the size of a golf ball on left temporal lobe of his brain at the age of six. When Chris Carlin heard about Jack, he felt moved as a human being first, and secondly a marketer, to do something big and powerful that would help Jack. As Chris put it, I wanted to show that we can “use brands to make the world a better place.”

So, in 2013, Chris convinced his team at Upper Deck to create a “Star Rookie” trading card for Jack Hoffman, who had recently fulfilled a childhood dream of running a touchdown in for Nebraska during their spring game. All proceeds from the sale of this card ($50,000 and counting – go buy one now!) have gone towards defraying some of Jack’s medical bills and funding the Team Jack Foundation for paediatric brain cancer research.

Jack Hoffman Star Rookie Trading Card by the Upper Deck Company

Jack Hoffman Star Rookie Trading Card by the Upper Deck Company

The Jack Hoffman card and later the Star Rookie series has not only been an incredibly positive force in the life of Jack Hoffman, for whom it was intended, but, unsurprisingly has greatly enhanced the reputation of the Upper Deck company, proving that doing good can be good for the brand. While never the intention, the positive associations are well-deserved and unavoidable.

These same positive associations help bring Chris Carling into contact with Denis Murphy, father of Jaclyn Murphy, leading to the development of a new “Heroic Inspirations” trading card for Jaclyn Murphy who is the founder of the Friends of Jaclyn charity and herself the survivor of childhood brain cancer.

Learn more about the Friends of Jaclyn foundation here.

Important links
Visit www.TeamJackFoundation.org to learn about how you can help #pediatricbraincancer kids be kids #Fighting4AVictory
Jack Hoffman Foundation Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TeamJackFoundation

Jack Hoffman Foundation website: http://www.teamjackfoundation.org/

About Jack Hoffman: http://www.teamjackfoundation.org/about-jack-hoffman