Matt is a Marketing Communications Manager, focused on spreading the good word about technology that makes our lives easier. He lives for food and friend experiences in urban spaces.
How visual communication is needed for every personal branding strategy
Last month, Inman Connect took place in San Francisco, and one session in particular changed both my personal and professional perspective on social media. But let me back up for a second.
A former colleague once shared her approach to Twitter with me. She said that she felt comfortable tweeting more random things with her followers because the platform can feel like an echo chamber. What stood out to me most was that she said “my followers.” She was several years younger than me, but I don’t think that matters.
I have always felt the relationship between sharer and world wide web of strangers to be concerning, if not problematic, for relationship building.
How can momentum be built between people from a one-way share? I felt like people who posted like this were acting like public figures who only post and don’t [have the time to] connect.
Alternatively, I’ve always wanted to approach social media as a way to stay connected with people I have connected with in real life (IRL). And one Inman session made me see how this could happen.
Author of Talking in Pictures, Chelsea Peitz presented her session, “Living in Real Life: I am Social and Social is Me,” in a crisp, to-the-second 15-minute slot. Immediately, she jumped to the role of cameras in the way we communicate today.
Since the advent of Snapchat in 2014 (can you believe it’s only been that long?), we’ve embraced the screen-to-screen approach to sharing our real-time life experience..
Initially, Chelsea felt similarly to me, asking “How could you feel like
these people are your real friends?”
However, she challenged herself to use a camera to share her life in real time and uncovered three key learnings about the science of screen-to-screen in this camera-first formula:
1. Neuroscience of visuals: As humans, we’re hardwired to connect with faces. Our brains are like cameras. If we damage the temporal lobe, which is responsible for facial recognition, we’d suffer from face blindness. Watching faces informs how we understand, relate, and develop connections with others. Today, our face has become our brand, especially in real estate. It’s simply top of mind. And our brains can’t tell the difference between faces in person or online. Therefore, real time is human time.
2. Sociology: Maybe you’ve noticed: real time sharing creates community. While this may seem like a one-way approach to connection, consider the positive spin on this: “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Sharing with your camera can contribute to community building and will document your cultural experience.
3. Product psychology: Investment is commitment. Once Chelsea got invested in the practice of sharing in real time with her camera on various platforms - and once her followers got invested in her steady sharing, their commitment to each other grew. Furthermore, relationships began to build out of connecting, sharing, and pairing faces to shared experiences.
A lot of social media breakout sessions in the real estate world are basically begging you to get over the hesitations about how you look, sound, or come across when sharing with a camera - so you can connect with and expand your sphere of influence with scale. But the reality is that however you look or sound on a camera is exactly how you look or sound in real life, and your SOI might find your appearance more credible (and therefore more memorable) if you aren’t too polished.
At the end of Chelsea’s presentation, she shared a picture of an IRL meetup with people she had connected with over the time she has spent sharing her life (and her face) in real time on social media platforms.
She left me with profound and encouraging conclusions: the camera is the new social feed. Social isn’t media. It’s us sharing our stories.