Vintage camera hanging on wooden bench in autumn park. Instagram style toned photo.

It’s What’s on the Inside That Counts (Said No Social Media Campaign Ever)

Mother always said to never judge a book by it’s cover. It’s what’s on the inside that counts!

And she was right… about books.

Mother, however, was very wrong indeed about social media. Which will come to a shock to exactly no one as with a virtual show of hands: who out there is currently dealing with a matriarchal figure who is trying (and failing) to figure out the depths of social media?

Example A:

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But we digress. Moms and all their infinite, albeit misguided book-related wisdom aside, on a business (and on a personal) level, it has never been more important to have excellently-curated and strategically-attractive social media cover.

What does that mean? Well, because cliches seem to be a general theme here, fake it ‘till you make it, friends.

Take the social media platform of Instagram for example. It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and you’re casually perusing what’s trending on a platform full of perfectly edited, and painstakingly filtered photos. As you insta-stalk various beautiful people in exotic places eating delicious foods wearing their fine silk linens and organic bamboo shoes, you begin to wonder… OK. COME ON. DO YOU EVEN HAVE A JOB? WHAT IN ZUCKERBERG’S NAME DO YOU DO?

And that exactly is our point. You honestly have no idea what these anonymous beautiful instagram people do for a living. All you know is that, their life is sweet, their feed is sick, and you keep following half out of jealousy, half out of fascination.

Now put that into perspective with a brand. What if you could purchase those cool bamboo shoes for yourself? What if you joined a membership and also got to fly to this exotic island? What if wearing this particular face lotion, too made you look like you were the daughter of Zeus himself? If you could purchase or attain whatever a particular user’s feed is promising, wouldn’t you be more apt to not only follow, but become a customer as well?

When you post on behalf of your brand on social media, you aren’t just selling your product or service. You are selling a lifestyle. You are selling a promise that if the viewer becomes a customer, they too will be just as [insert compelling, desirable adjective here] as the brand posting.

When you sell a lifestyle, you sell how your brand is perceived. You sell the cover. You aren’t selling the products. You aren’t selling the service. You are selling the after effects of becoming a customer. Take these three Instagram feeds of well known brands below. Target could very easily post their customers shopping in their aisles. They could post specific items that are on sale with a promise to click for a coupon. Likewise, Free People, a clothing brand for young woman, could endlessly post model photos of their clothes with item codes and flash sales. Equinox, a gym based in major cities throughout the United States, could push out photos of people at their gyms, products in their boutique, training deals and holiday specials.

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Instead? These brands sell fun. They sell free spirit. They sell luxury. They sell ideas instead of things and in doing so, they’ve become incredibly successful in their various industries not just in their actual business dealings but on social media as well.

Maybe you’re out there thinking, I’m a small hardware store based in rural Nebraska, how can I compete with these brands in terms of selling lifestyle?

Here’s the best part for the little guys out there. Social media gives you your own voice. You don’t have to compete with the big whig companies because you’re technically not trying to sell what you do or make. You’re selling the lifestyle behind that. Your sole purpose is to create your own identity in your own environment. So what do you customers want to be? What do they want to do? Who do they want to be? Do your research. Invest in quality photography. If you personally don’t have the eye for photography, invest in someone who can. Once again, fake it until you make it, friends! What you look like is more important than what you’re selling. If you’re a gym, what kind of gym are you? Who is your competition? What are they doing? How can you do it better? Define your brand in pictures.

Focusing on visual branding and curating a virtual lifestyle is vital to success on social media. Create a story. Make your audience feel something. Doing so will drive attention to your brand in the very same way beautiful anonymous individual Instagrammers do on a personal level.

When it comes to books, pie and personality, mom was right. It IS what’s on the inside that counts. But when it comes to social media branding, how your product or service is perceived is just as important (if not more important!) as what you are actually selling.