Can you remember the last really great image you saw in your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feed? Did it make you laugh, gasp, or say “awww…”? You might not remember exactly what the text of the post said, but the image–if done right–stays in your mind. As a marketer, you want to effect that same kind of reaction on your target audience! Make the most of your social media visuals.
According to Dr. John Medina, developmental molecular biologist and New York Times bestselling author, images stick with people. He reports, “When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.”
What is more, users simply enjoy visual posts. According to Travel Blog Success, “Photos receive 53% more likes on Facebook and 84% more link clicks than average link posts.”
Savvy marketers have taken notice. Hubspot reported, in early 2017, that 74% of social media marketers now use visual assets in their social media marketing.
The term “visual assets” covers a lot of ground. What does that mean, exactly? What kinds of visuals should you use and where do you get them? Read on to learn about some great image tools you can put to use immediately.
Types of Effective Social Media Visuals
If you’re stuck for where to being with graphics, try some of these.
Inspirational quotes paired with images: Pick a quote that’s relevant to your audience or your business. Pair it with a public domain photograph of a natural object, a landscape, or another image that fits with the sentiment of the quote. For more on how to make sure you’re using online photos legally, click here.
Product images: If you already have professional images of your products, use them! If not, you can get decent photos yourself with ample lighting and a smartphone.
Charts and graphs: Repurpose informational graphics from your website or presentations. Just make sure they’re readable on a small screen. Test to make sure! Infographics can incorporate multiple charts or other visual representations of data. They can attract a lot of attention, but only when done right. Read on to learn what tools to try for making infographics.
Video: Video has exploded in recent years. A video doesn’t have to be long or professionally produced. Just make sure it’s interesting and clear.
What Not to Post
Depending on the nature of your brand, you will make some judgment calls about what to post. Definitely, avoid photos that are too dark or blurry for the viewer to make out. Likewise, avoid anything with too much or too small text.
A word on memes… use caution. Memes tend to take on nuances of meaning as they move through the pop culture landscape. Try making memes from scratch (see below) or make absolutely sure you know how a meme is used and by whom, and then makes sure your caption is on-brand.
Tools to Try
You probably have right now, in your hand, a powerful tool for creating visuals. Explore all the features of your smartphone. For example, if you use an iPhone, try slow motion video, panoramic shots, and portrait mode. These all offer really cool ways to play with how you present information. You can also crop, add filters, and adjust contrast — right there on your phone! You don’t even need to download additional apps. For video, you might invest in tools like a selfie stick or desktop tripod.
Pro tip: If you’re shooting video on your phone, hold it horizontally for the best image. If you’re shooting specifically for Instagram, remember the frame will be square so keep your subject centered.
Apps to Add Text
Once you snap and edit your perfect shot, add a caption if you want. There are numerous apps available that let you add text to photos. Popular options include Canva and Phonto. Who knows, you might create something so funny or amazing that it becomes the next viral meme! However, be sure to double-check spelling and punctuation because nothing invites internet ridicule like mixing up “your” and “you’re.”
There are many ways you can use screenshots to communicate. Consider how you might use them to interact with your customers. For example, you could collect a series of screenshots to demonstrate a software product. Or you can use them to share customer feedback across platforms. For example, if someone gushes about your company on Facebook, screenshot their comment and post it on Twitter and Instagram.
Royalty-Free Image Sites
If you don’t see anything in front of you to snap a photo of, head to the web. Look for royalty-free images with Creative Commons licenses, or better yet, public domain. DO NOT simply grab any image you find in search. A great site to try is Pixabay. None of their images require attribution but if you want to be a good online neighbor, feel free to credit and link to the creator. Another option is Flickr, but the licenses vary. Read the details carefully before using any image.
Canva, which we mentioned above, does a whole lot more than add text to images! You can use it to create Facebook cover images, e-cards, diagrams, infographics, and anything else you can imagine. Don’t be intimidated. The Webby Awards called it “the easiest to use design program in the world.” Another tool with similar capabilities is Piktochart. Both offer stock images and icons as well as a way to upload your own.
These tools should get you started. Your imagination will take you in any direction from there. Start experimenting with visuals now and test their effectiveness. Soon, you will learn how they can grow your social media following and, in turn, your business.