Why Businesses Need to Tell Visual Stories with Their Employees

In this era of visual storytelling, employee information and images are a way to build trust and humanize your brand.

Why Businesses Need to Tell Visual Stories with Their Employees
  • Businesses can build their brands through their employees, starting with images that make the store/business more inviting, especially on social media.
  • Showcasing employees can build trust and humanize brands, which can be a competitive differentiator. It’s important in industries such as home services and healthcare, among others.
  • Telling the business’s story visually now is especially important as consumers begin returning to stores, movie theaters and other places that require an in-person experience.

Every company likes to say that people are their best assets, but too often a business’s employees are nowhere to be found where consumers are searching online. It’s important that businesses incorporate images of their people more completely and consistently on their websites, socials, Google My Business (GMB) listings, and everywhere else along the consumer journey. Doing so humanizes the enterprise and builds trust in this age of visual storytelling.

Showcasing people makes intuitive sense at a time when the most visited websites in the world include destinations such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram that rely heavily on the power of visuals. Images and video are the lingua franca of our time. But why showcase people? I can think of two big reasons.

Reason 1: To Humanize Your Brand

We are naturally social creatures, and any brand with an offline presence knows that we do business with people, not faceless entities. As the world slowly emerges from a massive lockdown caused by the pandemic, our need for the human touch is all-too-evident.

My company, Reputation, recently analyzed consumer sentiment across hundreds of retailers and more than 32,000 locations to uncover the reasons why shoppers might choose to visit to a brick-and-mortar store during the pandemic. We came up with a surprising answer: even at a time of widespread social distancing, shoppers want to interact with retailers’ own people. We’ve seen shopper sentiment about retailers’ staff improve by 20 percentage points since the pandemic hit. Reviews such as this one were typical: “[Employee] is so patient, friendly, and helped me solve my problem. He was great and gave excellent customer service! Thank you so much!!!”

These findings underscore how important it is for businesses to build their brands through their employees, and doing that starts with images that make the store more inviting. Social media is a great place to do this. I like how Walmart shines a spotlight on its people on Facebook, as these two examples show:

A person taking a selfie

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A person wearing a costume

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Target recently featured on its Facebook page a store director in Temecula, California, who showed how the employees in her store follow safety protocols. Bonus points for doing all this in a 30-second video.

Those examples send two important messages:

  • “We care about people – starting with our own.” This is a powerful statement. After all, a business that takes care of its own people is more likely to treat its customers well.
  • “We listen to our customers and take action by keeping our stores clean and following safety protocols.” Actions speak louder than words. A video that demonstrates how employees keep their stores safe speaks volumes.

The shoutout to #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth also says something about a respect for diversity and inclusion, which is more important than ever.

Reason 2: To Build Trust

For many businesses, showcasing people is not only helpful, but essential for building trust. This is true with:

  • Professional services such as healthcare and wealth management where consumers are making highly personal and life-changing decisions.
  • Businesses such as moving and home repair that require someone to enter one’s personal residence.
  • Any high-consideration purchase such as an automobile or home where guided selling is involved.

The healthcare industry has gradually gotten much better at using both images and video to help people searching for care get to know the physicians who might be treating them.

Here is a best practice for sharing images of providers that work out of a specific location:

Notice how multiple providers appear on the page with professional photos and links to learn more about them. Clicking on one of the providers takes you to a page showcasing more information about that provider:

Graphical user interface, application, Teams

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The provider complements the image with essential information such as area of specialty, insurance accepted, ratings/reviews, and the ability to schedule an appointment online:

Graphical user interface, text, application, email

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Here is a best practice from a moving company – an industry where trust is essential. The images of smiling, friendly professionals helps build trust. The drop-down biographies written in first person humanize the mover’s brand even more. The copy seems authentic:

Graphical user interface, website

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Publishing photos also suggests accountability in the customer experience. If something goes wrong, you know who to contact and who you’ll be talking with. I think we can all relate to the experience of having to deal with a faceless, automated attendant when something goes wrong. Knowing a human being will help you, and knowing who that person is, is critical in industries that require trust.

Tips for Businesses

The good news is that you have the tools at your disposal to share employee photos. Not only do website builders such as Squarespace or Wix offer tools to easily add photos, Facebook and GMB make it easy to upload visual content from your mobile phone camera. With a little homework on proper cropping, lighting, and formatting, you can be ready to roll in hours (many articles such as this one offer useful tips). I suggest that you also:

  • Consider video introductions from your store manager, automobile sales team, physician and so on. Give them 30 seconds to say who they are and to welcome consumers. Voice inflection and smiles go a long way.
  • Optimize the brief written content that goes with the photo. Some industries (such as healthcare) require more content than others. It’s essential that your content be accurate to build trust, but being descriptive and interesting is also important.
  • Periodically update your employee photos on your website especially as new people join or leave. This is especially true in high-turnover industries.

Telling your story visually now is especially important as consumers begin returning to stores, movie theaters, and other places that require an in-person experience. Empower your employees to welcome them back.

Adam Dorfman is the Director of Product Growth at Reputation. Follow him on Twitter at @phixed