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Do pictures say more than words and could a face launch a thousand ships?

11 April 2013

Smart phones now allow for all sorts of rapid fire image sharing. There’s your Instagram App, termed by some as ‘a more traditional picture’ method. Then there are the ‘new wave’ image Apps, such as GIFs (easily shareable animated images), and the super-short video Apps.

(I found using the Apps I sampled simple enough. The challenge came when I thought about their relevance to my life and the people I know. Granted, I’m not part of the age group that finds self-disclosure hip, and that made it hard to find friends with whom I could practice using the Apps.)

As we adopt them, we become more attuned to new social networking methods. Multimedia stories are the newest and they can be “absorbed, processed and digested” in a way that grabs users more than any plain ol’ fashioned text message might. Email – I am reliably informed – is going the way of the postage stamp and envelope. 

Snapchat is the ‘Mission Impossible’ of multimedia imagery Apps. Take a photo in Snapchat, send the file, and, depending on the time you prescribe, the file will self-destruct anywhere between 1 and 10 seconds after viewing. (It’s not infallible, so beware, your viewer could take a screen grab and the picture remains alive and possibly dangerous. Heads up: the Terms of Use stipulate you must be over 13 to use Snapchat. This is what you need to keep in mind as a Snapchatter.)

Gifboom lets you take pictures in rapid succession. You then pick which ones you want to animate and share. Okay, sounds easy. Not so fast my friend, because here’s where creativity steps in. Maybe I’m decidedly uncreative, but I couldn’t get going on this one, or maybe it’s more that I just don’t get the point about enacting every bit of my ordinary life to my friends?

Super-short videos are another visual changing the way we social network. And they are just that, very short videos you make and send to friends. Tout, Viddy, Keek and Vine are examples of Apps, and if you think that sounds like an excerpt from A Clockwork Orange, you’re too old.

So what’s the point for business of all this social networking/media. Well – it is the new frontier and it’s knowledge. There are also some do’s and don’ts, many of them self-evident.

Over-complicating social media is a big mistake many business people make, and it happens in two ways.

Firstly, you can feel insecure because of a lack of knowledge and because you lack familiarity with the tools. The best way to circumvent that is to experiment and start learning about the medium. Here is as good a place as any, the:

"Social Media Toolkit: A guide to how small and medium businesses can make the most out of social media."


Put together by computer giant Dell, the guide really is very valuable.


The second way of complicating social media is not to understand which technologies suit you, your product and your audience. 

The first steps here are to understand your site, your market, your audience – how they communicate and what they value.

Which brings us to some other don’ts which if done could make your life on social media less lively and maybe even embarrassing. 

According to all the experts, the don’ts revolve around how you converse: don’t speak without listening, do target appropriately and do use appropriate visuals to complement your message in text.

Four tips for getting it right: social media is not a broadcast mechanism but a two-way conversation, images are the new “word of mouth”, authenticity is king and always use your common sense.