Antique Trader’s “virtual antiquing” Facebook page feature has become one of my favorite newsfeed items. I enjoy seeing how shops display merchandise and what types of inventory they carry. When I occasionally spot an unusual item, I get particularly excited. Many of the goods in such photos you just don’t see on eBay. I often find myself clicking to a dealer’s website to see more items, and discover their prices.
Of course, what makes virtual antiquing enjoyable is a lot of high-quality photos. The more the better; sometimes I’ll click on every photo.
We are visually oriented creatures. The reason that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is because our brains can process and interpret a picture a lot faster than we can read. Content marketers NeoMam Studios present an engaging infographic on their site that points this out clearly. The “falling rocks” image is more powerful than the associated text warning, wouldn’t you say?
Social media loves photos and videos. Marketing specialists MDG Advertising in their infographic “It’s all about the images”, relates the following statistics:
- Articles that contain images get 94% more views.
- Search results accompanied by an image get 60% more clicks
Virtual Antiquing Opens Doors
Facebook engagement rate (percentage of viewers who “like” or comment on a post) is .37% for images, .31% for videos, .27% for text-only posts, and .15% for links with no image or text. Roughly, photos get 37% more engagement than text-only posts.
Have you considered making your website a “virtual antiquing” destination? A photo-and-video-loaded website will bring you a steady stream of new visitors (and sales), provided that the images are updated regularly, and “teasers” are posted to your social media pages.
Once you have lots of photos and videos on your website, you can build “virtual antiquing” into your Facebook feed by creating photo albums and posting them to your feed. Posting photo albums is a better tactic than posting single photos, because albums don’t clog your readers’ newsfeeds. All your newest photos can be consolidated into a single album post that readers can access without searching for what’s new in your shop.
Eye on Social Media Photo Albums
Could posting photos directly to Facebook albums replace the need to build a “virtual antiquing” website? No. Tourists, weekend road-trippers, and virtual antiquers will find you easier on Google than on Facebook. Few users search Facebook when they want to find new stores and products; they use Google. Although Facebook has made great strides in search marketing in the past couple of years it is, at its core, a social media platform. As such, a post’s reach is restricted by user’s privacy settings. Google, on the other hand, is a one-hundred-percent search engine. Furthermore, type in a keyword and geo-locator and The Big G will find all the antique stores in the area (that have websites). Shoppers want to look at pictures and videos, not read long blog posts. If yours is a “visual” website, yours is the one that will capture search attention.
Here are a few tips on creating a visually engaging website from the folks at Leonardo.com, a marketing company for the hospitality industry:
Put Your Best Photos Forward
• Be authentic. Through photos and videos, share what potential customers will experience when they visit your shop. Don’t restrict yourself to staged photos; show your crew at work, customers shopping, new displays, and impromptu shots.
— Group your photos into galleries so that viewers can experience your inventory in-depth. In addition, if you have a good selection of a particular collectible, build a photo gallery around it. Railroad collectibles, tobacciana, glassware, quilts, tools, farm implements and furnishings all make great photo galleries.
• Leverage your social media presence by establishing a Pinterest board for your store. [http://bit.ly/1xOWUA4] With the addition of a Pinterest browser button, you can post any of your photos to your Pinterest page with a couple of clicks.
Share Attention To Attract More Visitors
— Create a “virtual video tour” of your store. This doesn’t have to be fancy; it can be done with the video feature on your smartphone. Post the video to YouTube, and re-run your tour monthly as your Facebook fan base grows.
• Don’t forget about community events and local amenities; your virtual antiquing visitors will also want to know where to eat, where to find a good hotel, and what to do for entertainment when they actually make a trip to your store.
Furthermore, whether on your website or social media, you can never have too much visual content. Customer engagement specialists Kissmetrics suggests six types of visual content that are effective:
Six Types of Visual Content Options
Images: A 2015 study from Microsoft asserts that the average human attention span has fallen from twelve seconds in 2000 to eight seconds in 2013. That’s one second less than a goldfish.
Videos: a 2009 post by moz.com cites a study which claims that videos get 300% more inbound links than static photos.
Infographics: (can you tell from this column that infographics are my favorite type of visual content?)
Memes: Memes are effective and easy to create. For a short analysis and tutorial, see my Behind the Gavel column “Marketing with Memes: Humor triggers action” from January 2016. 
Presentations: Chances are good you have lots of written content. It’s easy enough to translate that content to a PowerPoint presentation, post it to SlideShare.com, and then link to your presentation from your website or Facebook page. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do that: http://bit.ly/2hNwSLe
Screenshots: Capture reviews and testimonials from your customers and post them online. Nothing builds trust like social proof.
Give Virtual Antiquing a Try
Finally, turning your website into an effective “virtual antiquing” destination will take some planning on your part, but the result will be worth the effort.
I hope to see your store’s tour online soon!
Previously published in Antique Trader Magazine