Background Check: How to keep your visuals from hurting your image


Welcome to the age of the image, where everyone strives for video virality and photos reign supreme. The major social networks have put a strong emphasis on pictures and video. Twitter showcases them in the timeline, Facebook gives them more weight in their algorithm, Instagram gives you a plethora of filters and editing tools, and even LinkedIn has started flashing visually engaging mosaic layouts for its Author pages. As far as the networks, and therefore the users, are concerned, if your message doesn’t have a visual, it’s likely little more than static.

And so, just like in high school, it’s all about the image.

Fortunately, technology has made amateur photographers of us all. Most of us are usually no more than an arm’s length away from a camera. (I hear some of these cameras even make phone calls! Oh, technology, where will you go next?) It’s quick and easy to snap off a shot or film a short video, and it’s just as easy to post that visual up on the network(s) of choice.

But there’s a slight problem here. You see, sometimes it’s too easy to share your images. Sometimes we go on autopilot; take out phone, strike a pose, selfie ourselves, repeat. But the danger is, even though you can control the saturation and the hue and the crop and the tilt shift, there’s one thing you can’t always control in your photo.

The background.

“So what?” you might say. “The background is just a background! That’s why they call it the background, Ryan! How much damage can it do?”

Good question. Maybe we should ask Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who tweeted this picture on Election Day. What should have been a stirring example of democracy turned into a searing sea of derision. The Twitterverse wasted no time cracking jokes (get it?!) at Governor Nixon’s expense. His message of “Come out and vote!” was completely overridden with a much more shareable message of “OMG, look at this!”

The background of your photos and videos can definitely hurt your message. Here are four things to look out for next time you snap a shot:

Photo Bombers.

Man oh man, is there anything more fun than seeing a great photo bomb? (The answer is yes; seeing a great cat photo bomb.) Nothing dilutes your visual impact faster than some lunatic making faces in the background. Before you post, make sure your photo is bomber-free.

Scotch Tape Backgrounds.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Scotch tape. It’s saved my life on at least seventeen different occasions. But it doesn’t belong in your photo background. What I mean is, don’t “stage” a background by taping signs or pictures or logos to your wall. And don’t choose a wall that looks like it might be someone’s laundry room. A bare, taupe-colored wall? Where do you work, your mom’s basement? In fact, you know what? Don’t take any photos anywhere that anyone might consider “crummy.” Crummy backgrounds damage the heck out of credibility. Take your photos in front of non-crummy backgrounds only. If you don’t know if your background is crummy or not, ask a friend. Friends love to tell you when things are crummy.

Same Old, Same Old.

Don’t take photos in the same location every time. People want to see variety in your images, and the less of that you have, the less likely people are to continue engaging over time. Also, if you’ve followed some of the above advice and take all of your photos in an especially fancy closet in your office, people are going to get wise to the fact that your fanciness may be fraudulent. And there are few things worse than fraudulent fanciness.

Collateral Damage.

The woman with the slightly exposed posterior in Governor Nixon’s photo probably really wishes he’d checked the frame for collateral damage. Sometimes things happen accidentally within the frame, and you’re powerless to stop it. Be on the lookout for background violence, unexpected goofiness, flailing animals, inappropriate hand signs, and, of course, inappropriately exposed skin.

Believe it or not, your photo’s background says a lot about you. It speaks to who are you, what you do, how seriously you take your social messaging, and how much attention you pay to detail. Huge business deals have gone sideways over a single, poorly placed pose.* Next time you snap a photo or capture some video, pay careful attention to what’s going on in your background.

Your image depends on it.


*I mean, I assume they have. I couldn’t find any headlines to support it, but it makes sense. Seek your feelings. You know it to be true.

Loan Officers: Grow Your Network Using Social Media


Time is money for loan originators. This is especially true given the state of the housing market.. Two concerns that could derail an increase in loan originations are credit and home prices. According to an article on, getting approved for a home loan is still tougher than before the market crashed in 2007. “Borrowers need higher credit scores, less overall debt, and full documentation of finances.”

What this means for LO’s is a smaller pool of loan-ready clients to choose from, and heavy competition for qualified applicants. Adding social media to your networking strategy showcases your professional abilities, and ensures that when the time comes for consumers to choose, it won’t be a matter of which LO to use, but which loan to select.

To get you started, GREMLN has broken down our white paper, “De-Mystifying Social Media for Mortgage Loan Originators” into a handy slideshare presentation. Refer to it as a guide to getting started on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter!

Get the presentation

And, ICYMI, feel free to download the full white paper. In this quick 10-minute read, expect to learn: 

  • Tips for setting up Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts
  • Best practices for social media content
  • Advice on how to leverage social media for prospecting, networking, and nurturing relationships to closed deals

Facebook Newsfeed Preferences – Let’s Change the Narrative


Okay – so Facebook has made a change that, on its face (pun absolutely intended) could be more bad news for brands. Not only has organic reach become somewhat of an urban legend, but also with the new See It First feature, users can control what they see and how much they see it on their newsfeeds.

In layman’s terms – IF your brands posts actually reach your audience without the help of Facebook advertising, a consumer has the option to unfollow any brand that has appeared on their newsfeed for the past week. After trying it ourselves at Gremln HQ, we can confirm it really is easy to do, and rather addictive (hey, I didn’t know I followed these guys – click! They’re gone). That’s the bad news. (more…)

Tweet Your Way to Sales: 5 Easy Ways to Use Twitter

tweetsale_blog If you’ve ever dismissed “the Tweeter” as an unnecessary distraction that yields no measurable ROI, consider the following stats from Social Media Today: (more…)

TRID: Countdown to Compliance for Mortgage Lenders


Mortgage lenders have been required to provide two different disclosure forms to borrowers under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) since the early 1970’s. However, inconsistencies in wording and content prompted a revision of the forms, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) began that process in July of 2012. In November of 2013, they issued their final rule, integrating TILA and RESPA disclosures. (more…)

3 Ways To Say Happy Father’s Day Using Social Media

Father's Day | Gremln Blog

Sunday is the day we celebrate the dads in our lives. A survey conducted by the National Retail Federation showed that greeting cards and special outings are the most popular choices for Father’s Day gifts. But if you don’t live in the same town as your dad, neither one of those is a great option (let’s face it – nobody is putting a greeting card in the mail). And, what if dad has passed away? You can still pay your respects to the husbands and father’s in your life using social media with these 3 ideas. (more…)

De-Mystifying Social Media for Mortgage Loan Originators

Two of the most important keys to a loan originator’s (LO) success are trust and relationships. And while that aspect of the business hasn’t changed, the strategy to build trusting relationships has evolved. The old “grow and nurture” method included in person meetings, cold calling, and advertising – and then nurturing those leads with emails, calls, or letters. Growing and nurturing your network is still important, but now in addition to using a call sheet or email list, you have social media platforms. It’s no longer just about a sales pitch, but staying in touch and adding value to your network in as many ways as possible. (more…)

[Infographic] Your Social Media Presence: Good vs. Bad

At a loss for what to tweet? Just about to hit “send” on a scathing post about the barista who just totally screwed up your coffee order? Before you do, take a second to think about what it’s going to do for your social presence.

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How do you measure social media ROI? Go to the dark side


Have you ever looked at the traffic to your website from social media and thought it didn’t look quite right? Does your direct traffic seem unusually high? You might be experiencing what Alexis Madrigal calls DARK SOCIAL. In short, dark social is when people copy and paste content or links from a website and share it with friends (or even just one friend) as opposed to sharing from a social network or social share button. Confused? Okay, here is a real world scenario: (more…)

4 Ways to Activate Your Customers on Social Media


A recent study from Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group shows that most banks are significantly missing the mark with customers on social media. Out of 1,002 consumers polled, 52% said they believe their banks use of social was ineffective, and a whopping 87% said banks are “annoying, boring, or unhelpful” on social media. No worries! The data presents an opportunity for financial marketers to blaze new trails on social media. Here are 4 ways to activate your customers and brush the cob webs off your social media networks: (more…)