Ever wondered how many other businesses you’re competing with online in South Africa? It’s more than two million, and they all have the same opportunities as you do.
According to Statistics SA, by 2013 there were approximately 1.5 million informal businesses in South Africa (and that’s not taking into account the odd 600 000 registered businesses). It’s fairly safe to assume that digital advances in the last four years have created a competitive industry of marketing online and providing services that no longer require an office or the need for traditional marketing.
Freelancers, stay-at-home parents and an entire generation of youth who grew up engaging with technology are now empowered to start creative businesses and promote themselves online without much capital investment. Automated marketing platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Etsy to name a few, intuitive (and free) design programs such as Canva, and template-based websites have raised the creative bar, and lowered the price tag — the risk of failing is now less of a deterrent.
If you consider that the basis of content marketing is to provide free, valuable solutions to a potential audience to encourage engagement and hopefully generate some qualified leads, this has set in motion the constant development of an incomprehensible amount of information without geographical boundaries.
What differentiates the vast amount of content online to create a strong brand? When consuming media, our interest is piqued by images first, then words. It’s in the images you use, the consistent use of colours you incorporate — it's saying who you are with a picture to convey an instant message that’s more likely to be remembered.
The days of being limited to iStock for a choice of generic, impersonal photos are long gone. There’s an abundance of beautifully shot, creative, AND FREE images to choose from that might very well suit your business, but chances are, you’ll only find a few that have the same colour tone, style and variety to serve your long-term needs. What to do?
The most effective way to create an authentic brand personality and populate your social platforms with great content long term is to develop your own stock photography. It’s not as difficult as you think. Just as you’re taking your business into your own hands, so are photographers and stylists, and they’re ready to do all the thinking and planning for you at an affordable rate.
We recently embarked on this journey with the help of Pretoria-based style and decor specialist company Konfetti Love to create our own stock images that reflect our unique personality (and our undeniable penchant for tea and cake). After receiving our beautiful catalogue of stock images, we sat down with owner Marissa Vogel to understand the process.
Q: Do you see a trend in companies or brands wanting to create their own stock photography and produce more original content?
Absolutely! We’ve become visually driven especially with Instagram being such a big player nowadays. There’s a high demand for on-trend, well put together, fresh-coloured, attention-grabbing, feel-good imagery on all social media platforms. If you can create your own stock photography with original content, it shows visitors/readers you’re serious about your brand. More and more businesses have realised that it’s an excellent way to update their look and stay current with readers/clients. I’ve seen this mostly with small businesses.
Q: How do you interpret a brief to create a photo shoot that effectively conveys a brand's personality?
Clients can give you an overload of dos and don'ts, and this more often than not restricts you creatively. Of course, I read through a brief and make sure I understand the company’s objectives with the shoot, but I’m a visual person, so normally the visual bits get me thinking and I start building ideas from there. It helps to have good references — social media is full of fantastic and wonderful images and references, so this would be a good starting point for both parties.
Then there’s trust. I do a bit of research on the company myself, view their social media platforms and see where I can help them improve. I then make notes on what will and won’t work with their current look and feel, and plan from there.
Q: Essentially, you’re telling stories with pictures instead of words — what are the elements involved in composing a frame?
You can work off a checklist of every planned shot and frame you want, but I generally go with what feels organic on the day. If you have well-sourced items, you’ll be covered. Some items can be used over and over in different frames, while an item that you disregarded before, might end up being the star of the shoot. The photographer also helps a great deal. I collaborate on shoots with Littish Beyleveld of Littish Photography and we leverage off each other, which helps both of us. She has an excellent eye for styling too.
We gave Marissa a personal item from each writer’s desk to make it personal.
Q: What goes into planning a content shoot?
Firstly, I try assess what the client would want out of the shoot, and where and how they’re going to use the images. I then come up with content for them to use in the upcoming months and also try think what would be relevant to a reader at a specific time. Incorporating important dates or holidays is a big part of the content planning.
Secondly, the colour scheme needs to be consistent and has to flow, so a lot of planning goes into the overall colour scheme and sourcing the right bits to incorporate. When you look at all the imagery together, the images should flow into each other. This helps the client tremendously as almost each image will work alongside another. Don’t underestimate the amount of planning and tweaking that goes into Instagram photos to ensure you have a good flow in your feed and it is visually appealing!
More about Konfetti Love:
Here’s a sneak peek of some of the images you’ll spot on Content Candy's blog and social feeds: