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Building Your Online Community With Photos
By: Christine Geraci
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In the online social space, where news cycles are seconds long and content can go viral in about the same amount of time, it's no wonder photos dominate. Photos capture moments and allow us to linger on them for as long as we like. They are windows on memories, events, milestones. They literally are worth thousands of words, for they tell powerful stories the instant they are viewed. And they lend themselves well to the rapid-fire pace of online social interaction.
 
If you are trying to build an online community for yourself, your brand, or a cause, photos might likely be able to better open your story to new people, connections, and opportunities.  Better yet, they invite others to participate and engage with you by submitting their own photos.
 
Here are some great resources to help you build your online community through photos.
 
Building Community with Instagram
Here's a great post from ThunderSEO on using Instagram to build community, complete with examples from brands that do it successfully. You can also find more examples of how brands use Instagram right on the Instagram blog
 
Building Community with Pinterest
It's no secret that Pinterest is a huge web traffic-driver. But it's also a great place to display your personality by showing off the things you love. The same goes for brands and businesses, and if there's one business that loves Pinterest, it's Etsy. Check out this seminar from Etsy on how to build a community with Pinterest. 
 
And, Of Course, There's Facebook
Facebook's Edgerank algorithm loves photos the most, even when engagement is taken out of the equation. This means that posting photos makes it that much more likely that people will see and engage with the content. 
 
Don't Forget Twitter
In addition to third-party services such as Twitpic and yfrog, Twitter's native photo-sharing capabilities make it easy for people to see photos in tweets. 
 
A couple of other important points to mention:
 
Hashtags are VERY useful. A simple, concise hashtag will give your photos context, help to encourage participation from users, let you see who's sharing what around your brand/business/cause, and allow you to explore new audiences to connect with. They can be used on Twitter, of course, but they're also useful on Instagram and Pinterest. Facebook isn't in the hashtag game yet, but perhaps they will be soon. 
 
Cross-posting opportunities abound. If you post a photo to Instagram, you can also automatically push that photo to Facebook and/or Twitter. Pinterest is also connected to Facebook and Twitter. In the beginning, cross-posting a photo will help you determine where the photo gets the most engagement. Or, it might show you that your online community loves photos no matter where you post them!
 
Are you using photos to build your online community? If so, what's working for you?


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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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