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5 Creative Ways To Use Images for Online Life Science Marketing

Life Science Images

We live in an age where creating high quality images is straightforward and necessary to compete with the plethora of online media available. Facebook’s recent purchase of the image sharing application Instagram for $1 billion underlines the growing importance of images to web users. Images serve to get readers’ attention, to form a stronger connection with them, and to make content more likely to be shared. We’ve found five excellent examples cleverly using online images to promote brands, events, and even researchers, which are described below.

  1. Customized Photos. Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) recently did a fun promotion at recent conferences. They took photos of researchers and put them in a template which made it look like they were on the cover of Nature or Science. They provided a printout and electronic copy for researchers to share, as well as posting them to a Tumblr blog. IDT took away the ‘activation energy barrier’ scientists might have in creating and posting a their own images by doing it for them. Additionally, they made a connection not only with the researchers in the photos, but with others who will identify with the pictures. Tumblr is a good choice because it is a favorite of Millennials, who enjoy it as a simple, visually appealing community.
  2. Internet Memes. Memes are concepts which spread on the internet such as the double rainbow video or the O RLY? bird. These ideas are usually humorous and not only go viral, but “mutate” into other forms, making them attractive to those who want to spread a message, but also a bit risky. Zen Faulkes, Associate Professor from the University of Texas, just created a character “Fighty Crab” that he hopes will become a meme in support of his #scifund project. If it catches on, people can create their own caption for the image and share them. Would this work for a company? Maybe, if a lot of thought and researcher feedback were used in the process. Beware that the nature of memes is that you could lose control of the message and it could go ‘viral’ in a bad way.
  3. Cartoons. As we’ve pointed out, everything old is new, cartoons have been used by life science companies for years. When I worked at EMD, one of the most popular ‘literature’ pieces was the book of science cartoons from Calbiochem (which sadly I can’t find online). Today, Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD) Comics, which pokes fun at and commiserates with graduate students, is wildly successful. The comics are shared widely on the internet, they have 80,000 Facebook fans, and a full length movie has even been made! Currently they are not obviously affiliated with any life science company, but the potential to partner with them or to gain a following from this type of entertainment is appealing.
  4. Infographics. Images which portray data using visual elements, or infographics, have become popular and are shared often online. We’ve shared a few tips and tricks on how to create them on our Pinterest board as we think life science companies could use them to make complex science more easily understood. The only company we’ve seen using them is Assay Depot, check out this example and they’re putting out more on their blog. Companies could use data from research reviews, surveys, or trends relevant to their product line. As with other forms of social media, promotion of the company should be minimal, but we think that the utility and shareability of infographics makes them the ideal tool for leveraging imagery to promote your brand.
  5. Pinterest. I was introduced to the image sharing application Pinterest by my sister who has been successfully using it to drive business to her Etsy shop. Users pin images linked to the webpages they came from, creating themed ‘boards’ for others to view. For me, it’s like my own personalized magazine, we always knew the pictures are the most interesting part, right? How can life science companies leverage? While the Pharma Marketing Blog shows that much of the ‘prime’ pharma monikers are already taken by unwitting individuals on Pinterest, we think that there is plenty of room for biotech there. Susanna Speier wrote an article for Nature blogs showing that while Pinterest demographics don’t necessarily fit scientists, there are many interesting ways it can be used. We follow boards in which scientists show pictures of their everyday experiences in the lab, the photo shown in the image for this post is of scientist Jeanne Garbarino and from this board. Could you imagine the potential for a life science company to host promotions in which photos of their products, etc. are featured? Of course, the ‘activation energy barrier’ must be taken into account in creating any promotion. Along those lines, consider creating your own ‘pinnable’ images as Honda has done with their brilliant ‘Pintermission’ campaign. Pictures could be taken in labs or at events, you’d just need to bring waivers for your ‘models’ to sign. We’ve used boards to showcase photos from our events and to start discussions about images relevant to our brand, and find Pinterest to be more engaging than photo sharing sites such as Flickr.

Life science is a rich source of images ranging from stunning microscopy experiments to funny reflections on being a researcher. Whether you have the means to create them yourself, or use stock photos or open access sources (see our image guide for help), they are an incredibly valuable tool for your life science brand. Promotions and advertisements using images can be successfully done if carefully planned and implemented, and the campaigns will increase your exposure and strengthen your brand.

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2 Comments
  1. “Beware that the nature of memes is that you could lose control of the message and it could go ‘viral’ in a bad way.”

    Which is also true for everything you do online ever.

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