If content is king, visual content is the crown prince of every marketing strategy. Visual content enables brands to stand out and grasp the much-coveted attention of visitors through interesting and engaging images, videos, infographics, or other available forms.
Here are some tips on how to create engaging social media visuals that you can use immediately.
1. Visuals Have to Be a Part of Your Social Media Content Strategy
Visuals in your SM posts can be nice to have, but that is not their primary purpose. Their task is to boost engagement and bring more clicks, likes, shares, and–ultimately–sales.
Therefore, visuals cannot be random or incoherent choices by an individual editor or art director – they have to be an integral part of your social media content and marketing strategy.
Develop your own set of social media KPIs that include visuals in order to fully integrate them into your strategies.
Used with analytics, they show you whether your SM marketing strategy works efficiently and where it warrants some improvements.
If they faithfully follow your brand’s narrative, visuals will strengthen the desired impact of the content itself. Never forget that people are visual creatures, your customers included.
2. Let All Visuals Be Telling One Coherent Story
Your SM marketing strategy should tell you who your target audience is. However, additional research on their visual preferences will work miracles.
Different target demographics may prefer particular forms of visual content, color palette, frequency, and intensity of publishing visuals.
When analyzing, do not forget to do the segmentation by individual SM platforms. An infographic may work fine for LinkedIn but is hardly the right media for TikTok.
Visuals of all kinds must be coherent and make your brand story easily recognizable everywhere it is told.
If you don’t have the in-house capacity to create great-quality content yourself, hiring professionals, such as a video production company, is a worthwhile long-term investment.
3. Images: Never Forget the Basics
Visuals come in many different forms, but images are the most frequently used.
An image conveys information. Though an image may be more or less complex, the information you are trying to send through it should be kept as simple as possible.
This outcome is achieved by carefully creating a single focal point.
In the language of symbols, a focal point is not necessarily the center of an image – it is a powerful statement by your brand or organization.
4. Choose the Right Tools
One of the keys to running a successful business is optimal budgeting.
Having an in-house art department or hiring an external photographer or art director is excellent, but expensive. Social media publishing is intensive and you will want to consider all available options for creating your visuals.
Numerous online tools and services can provide you with superior images you can use instantly. In addition to images, there are many valuable resources for Instagram Story templates, templates for Facebook cover photos, and professionally looking infographics for LinkedIn.
Appropriate photo editing software is also mandatory to achieve high-quality posts.
5. Use the Full Potential of Stock Photo Services
Stock photo services are big business today, making over 5 billion USD in sales annually. They are widely used since their offer is good (and getting better all the time) and their expenses are more than bearable.
Hiring a professional photographer is not always an option, and since SM posting is a daily intensive process, costs of visuals may skyrocket.
Due to the need to produce a high volume and range of content in a short amount of time, buying visuals from stock photo platforms is a no-brainer for many companies.
Social media platforms change drastically because the future belongs to amateurs and the curation of authentic content. This provides your business with even more high-quality visual materials to choose from for only a penny or so per visual.
Paying for a stock photo bundle (or even using completely free ones) keeps you legally safe – the terms and conditions of using such images are simple and straightforward, which may not be the case when sourcing the visuals in other ways.
6. Sizing Does Matter (+ Instagram Notice)
If you think that bigger is always better, think again. Although bandwidth is not such a frequent issue anymore, the screen size of mobile devices is.
Social media posting requires specific media to go along with the text. If images are too big, or too bulky, they may consume the text or require the visitor to scroll or rotate the screen – an additional requirement you don’t want to impose on potential customers who can leave your web location in a jiffy.
That is why sizing is more important than size. Media should fit the content, be effective and serve as CTA (Call to Action) whenever possible.
But what about Instagram, which is almost all about multimedia? For Instagram:
- Create a background (or use a template) for sharing a horizontal photo on Insta Story.
- Vertical contents display differently depending on the device being used – use the analytics to see what devices your audience uses, and size accordingly.
- Do not put anything important in the upper and lower 240-320 pixels.
- Preview how Instagram will crop a vertical photo before you publish.
- If you use stock photo services, be very, very careful about the selection of the images – they often look (and are) generic and are thus unable to support your brand’s uniqueness.
7. Less Text is Always More
Text in visuals should always be:
This applies to quote images, stylized typography, text overlays, and other image-copy combos.
The image-to-text ratio is a crucial metric to bear in mind when creating text-based content for social media. Facebook, for example, finds that images with less than 20% text tend to perform better.
A good rule of thumb is that the text must improve, and never obscure, your creative process. Images additionally should not be described by the text. Overexplaining makes both text and visuals look sloppy and you may be deemed incompetent by the audience.
An effective way to include text in your visuals on social media is to focus on the CTA. Say you want your target group to visit your app for personal trainers. The only piece of text your post requires, in that case, is “Sign up today!”.
And yes – never forget about SEO!
8. Reinforce Brand Awareness
There is an ongoing discussion among marketing teams about whether your logo should be present in your SM posts.
It is usually a good idea to include your logo every time you post, especially for those posts that are intended for intensive sharing (Pinterest, for example).
However, branding should not be aggressive. Logos should be small and kept in a position where they don’t interfere with the visual. If there’s a clashing of colors, try using a neutral greyscale version of the logo.
9. Analytics and Experimentation are Your Allies
There is a wealth of advice on how to make your social media visuals more appealing. While we’ve covered a few of them, the room for improvement is infinite. After all, what suits one brand may not be suitable for others.
The right combination of analytics, SM KPIs, and a bit of experimentation will significantly improve your SM efforts and results.
About the author
Nina is a content marketing specialist, passionate about graphic design, content marketing, and the new generation of green and social businesses. Nina starts the day scrolling through her daily digest on new digital trends while sipping a cup of coffee with milk and sugar. Her white little bunny tends to reply to your emails when she’s on vacation.