Your visual representation has the power to become just as important as your messaging.

Instagram attracted more than 31 million users in less than two years.

Social media has always been visually inclined. But as technology and techniques have advanced, so has the role of images in social networking.

It’s not simply about tagging Facebook photos and tweeting vacation pics anymore; now, Pinterest and Tumblr rule the roost, and Mark Zuckerberg just paid $1 billion for Instagram.

From virtual scrapbooking and pinning to mobile photography, it’s a whole new world for social image sharing. And it’s high time you took advantage by rethinking how you represent yourself – and your business – visually.

Just as great marketing collateral wouldn’t be complete without photography and graphics, your social media presence wouldn’t be, either. I’m not talking about blinking backgrounds and animated GIFs on some tacky MySpace profile. Social media imagery in 2012 is about displaying tasteful, professional-quality images in a rich format – conveying key messaging and aiding customers.

Why is this important? To put it simply, people are wired for visuals. In 2005’s “Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner,” Linda K. Silverman wrote that nearly 30 percent of the population consists of primarily visual thinkers, and another 45 percent uses both visual and word-based thinking. That’s 75 percent of the population that can be reached effectively through the use of imagery. And 75 percent of the population is a lot of potential customers.

EcoTech Marine’s new Facebook cover photo uses striking photography to connect with customers. This allows them to connect their products with lifestyle.

With so much momentum behind visuals, where do you start? Simple: With a plan buy instagram followers. The goal is to use today’s social image-sharing technology to enrich what you’re already doing, not to start from scratch.

  • First, brainstorm your brand’s visual history/story. What images have you used before? Is there a thread that ties them together?
  • Using the information you gained while brainstorming, consider the personality your brand should have. What are your company’s core values and messages? Keep them in mind.
  • Make a plan, defining clear objectives and responsibilities. Who’s in charge of what? When will posts be made? How often is often enough? How often is too often? Know what you’re doing, and stick to it.
  • Make sure your logo and corporate identity are well represented. Colors. Identity. It’s all tied together here. Make surfboards? That stock image of old guys in a suit won’t fly. Sell software to top-tier IT firms? No cute cat pics.
  • Take your time when posting pictures and graphics. Don’t rush. A little Photoshop work – a little – goes a long way. Fix colors. Crop correctly. Eliminate red-eye. Remember: professional.
  • Think before you post. If a picture says a thousand words, make sure they’re saying the right thing.

Social media is one of the most effective ways to reach potential customers, and they’re increasingly tuned-in to visuals. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to provide rich, striking imagery on social platforms. By making a plan, sticking to it and using common sense, social imagery can become a valuable piece of your marketing toolbox.