Remember reading your favorite picture book as a kid? Chances are, you spent more time looking at the pictures than you did reading the words. It’s not that the story wasn’t enjoyable or worth reading; it’s just that your eyes were first drawn to the images of the story.Some things haven’t changed since then. While your choice in literature has probably changed, your eyes are still automatically drawn to visuals before it sees words. This doesn’t mean the words aren’t important, just that what your eye first sees are photos, videos, and graphics. This principle also holds true on social media. Your social news feeds are probably largely made up of visual content, and platforms like Instagram and SnapChat are completely devoted to it. Visual content is not only very engaging, it also helps solidify information about your brand in people’s mind. BrainRules.net shares that the pairing of a relevant image with information helps people to retain 65% more of that information than they would without the image.
By now, brands have figured out that they have to join in if they want the chance to be seen and connect with potential leads. But, this also raises the competition. If you want your brand to be seen by your audience, you’re going to have to create content so appealing it’s able to stand out from the crowd.
This is why high quality visual content is so important for social media marketing. We’re going to share some ways you can break through the noise and engage your audience with your visual content on social media.
Scroll through one of your social accounts for 30 seconds, and note what your eye is drawn to. Chances are very good that you immediately notice photos that are of high quality. The lighting is better, the colors are crisper, and the subject matter is shown in an intriguing way.
If you want to create high quality images for your own brand, there are a few ways to make it happen:
- Hire a professional photographer. If you have the budget to do this, it’s worthy of your time. If you are going to make the investment, ensure you get the greatest return by creating a list of every possible photo you might need and having the photographer take many different shots. If you don’t think you can swing the cost to hire a professional, reach out to any of your team members who enjoy taking photos or a college student in your area who is studying photography.
- Invest in a quality camera or at least a smartphone. If you don’t have the budget to hire a professional photographer, consider investing in quality equipment (at the very least, get an iPhone or other smartphone with a nice camera). Online tutorials abound for using this equipment well, and a small amount of training can make a huge difference.
- Find great lighting. Professional photographers have a myriad of equipment they use to make the [lighting] magic happen. If you know how to use those items, or are talented enough to experiment with them, they are worth your investment. If you’re not quite ready to spend money on this kind of equipment, taking photos outdoors or next to windows will provide beautiful lighting to take high quality photos.
- Think about the composition. Some of the most appealing photos don’t have the subject matter front and center. The person or product in the photo might be to the side, turned slightly, in the foreground, and so on. When taking photos for your business, play around with different options.
Videos Aren’t Optional
If you haven’t been sharing videos on your social media accounts, you need to start now. Video content has become a huge focus for content marketing, and it’s not going anywhere. It needs to become a part of your visual content strategy for social media marketing as well.
Because videos take more time to develop than other media and usually require the hiring of a professional, you want to make sure you’re using them as effectively as possible. This means they need to be a part of a larger purpose and strategy. Here are some of the videos you’ll want to include in your strategy:
- High quality, longer videos that tell your business’s story: these can be a more in-depth look at your process, the history of your business, or share your knowledge about a particular subject.
- Live videos: thanks to Facebook live, SnapChat, and Instagram stories, live videos are incredibly popular. They allow you to showcase your company culture, hold a tutorial, or conduct an interview or Q&A. While you want these videos to be of good quality, they don’t need to be professionally done
- Behind the scenes: give a glimpse into your process, new releases, or funny things that happen within your office. These kinds of videos provide people with a “real-life” glimpse of what your company is like, and this kind of transparency often leads them to choose your business for their needs.
Design is [Better Than] Fine
When you’re thinking about visual content, don’t just think photos and videos. Graphic designs, whether they’re a single image, an infographic, or a gif should be a part of your visual content strategy. Here are a few reasons why:
- They break things up from the normal flow of real life photos and videos you find on social media.
- They’re a fun, tangible way to show your brand’s capabilities and creativity, as well as showing your personality.
- These kinds of images are easily branded to fit your colors and logo.
Not sure it’s worth your time to create something like an infographic? Hubspot shares that “infographics are ‘liked’ and shared on social media 3x more than any other type of content.” Time to start designing.
Looking for some tools to create your own graphics? Here are some of our favorites:
- Freepik (requires login)
- Adobe Spark (requires an Adobe account)
- Creative Market (note: the link here takes you to the free section of Creative Market)
- Death to the Stock Photo
- Google Fonts
- Find even more options in this article from Creative Boom!
Optimize Your Visual Content
It’s a pretty sad waste to put in the necessary time for a high quality photo, video, or graphic, and then not have it be the right size for the platform you’re using. To make sure your visual content is the optimal size and orientation, check out this infographic.
The last tip we have to help your visual content engage your audience is consistency. Make sure your images have a consistent lighting, feel, and colors. While it might seem like having the same look and feel for every image is boring, it actually helps your content stand out. As your audience is scrolling through their news feed, they’re going to recognize your content immediately because it’s consistent.
You can achieve this consistency by using a common place to shoot photos so that you’re lighting stays true in all your photographs and videos. You can also use any photo editing software (whether something like Photoshop or a free option like the VSCO app) to give your images a filter. A style guide ensures your designs always fit your brand. The important thing is to make sure you are providing viewers with a familiar look and feel so that they can always find your content.
With the way social media is evolving, visual content is becoming more and more important. These practices will help you engage your audience with your photos, videos, and graphics. But, even with these helpful tips, developing and executing an engaging visual content strategy takes time, talent, and equipment. You might find that outsourcing your social media marketing is more cost effective than trying to fund the means to do it yourself. If you’re interested in learning about partnering with Primitive Social to manage your social media marketing, reach out to us here!
Want to learn more about using social media to grow your business? Download our free ebook Getting Started with Social Media!