Have you noticed how visual social media is these days? It’s not just about text updates.
Everything has an image, graphic, or video. But there’s a reason why. Visuals grab us like nothing else. In fact, our brains process visuals about 60,000 times faster than text. It turns out that an image is worth more than a thousand words.
But what do you do if you’re not an artist? A lot of us find design time consuming, or just plain hard to do.
Well then, do you hire an artist? But what if your budget isn’t big enough to justify that added expense?
Take a deep breath. You’re about to enter an alternate universe where design comes easy to you, it’s free (or painlessly affordable), and it’s repeatable. Ready to jump in? Let’s take a look at five design hacks that will make your social media content engaging and sharable.
1. Stop using so much text
Hey, I love text. I’m using it now. But the thing about text is that it can get really overwhelming really quickly. The point of using visuals is to let colors, shapes, and textures do the heavy lifting.
Whether you’re making a visual post for Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, don’t allow the words to crowd out the image.
For graphics that support your blogpost, I’m a big fan of using the text to reiterate title of your blogpost. Then, pin that graphic to the top of your blogpost. This will give your readers a hint that they can share your visuals on their social media platforms. Plus, since you have the title on the graphic, it’s even more enticing. Here’s a couple of examples:
As seen in these examples, when designing with images always place your text within empty copy space. This will make your type easily readable, easily digestible, and ultimately more sharable.
Don’t be afraid to add social share hovers on your images, either. A subtle way to do so is with WordPress Image Hover Lite.
2. Use high quality stock photography
Remember – the quality of graphics you promote on social media are are a reflection of your brand itself.
So, what pay off does a high quality stock image serve? Well, human beings tend to have an attractiveness bias – we notice, like, and will click on things that look nice, and what’s nicer than a beautifully shot stock photograph to complement your content?
A good stock image not only grabs you consumers’ attention, but it can also boost your brand’s credibility and professionalism. Not that many people are going to trust a brand that uses grainy, awkward and cheesy images, especially not when competitor brands use stunningly cheese-free stock images.
But don’t be put off of the idea of stock images by telling yourself they’re too expensive, because the day of overpriced (and badly shot) images is gone. Now, there’s plenty of high quality, beautiful photos in every category imaginable. And they cost anywhere from $1 to free.
And these images are not low resolution either. In fact, most are huge, ready for commercial use (always check first, though), and most importantly for smaller budgets like mine: free!
Now, there’s really no excuse to settle for crappy images that don’t represent your brand in the way that you love.
3. Use a range of visual content
There’s no doubt that visual content is the most powerful way to engage fans on social media. But they don’t want to see the same thing over and over again. How to solve this problem? Create a variety. Here’s four types of strategy:
Quote graphics help your fans connect with the meaning and message of your brand – not just your product.
Another reason people love to share quote graphics is that if they can relate to them, they’ll be motivated to share the thoughts and inspiration with their friends. Experiment with bold and strong vs light and minimalistic to create a series of quote graphics your fans won’t be able to resist.
Storytelling is one of the most compelling ways to engage your audience with your brand, and infographics allow you to do this in a visually captivating way.
Consider how charity World Vision do this on Pinterest. By creating a visual narrative that reflect their brand mission, their fans have an incentive to share the graphics when supporting various causes. This is a great example of how large chunks of data can be used in a compelling way.
When designing your own infographic, always make it easy to scan with facts and figures organized in a logical way. And use colors to communicate directives like, “hey, this is important” and use plenty of icons to tell your visual story.
If a customer has a question about doing something, why not take a screenshot to answer a FAQ on your social media page? Or use screenshots to give a sneak peek on something you’re working on. It makes the fan/ follower feel like they are getting exclusive information.
Also, chances are if you use a screenshot wisely to help explain, exemplify or demonstrate something, people are going to hit that share button. Visual guides can make life so much easier and quicker to understand, so if you give consumers that “Aha!” moment, they’re going to want to share that with others.
Show off your photography skills. Whether you’re on Instagram or Twitter, a great way to bring people into your world is through your own photos that you snap. With all of the great apps available through smartphones, you’re able to take photos on the fly and share them with your audience just as easily.
Photos are also, of course, super shareable, have a look at any social media page, people share millions of photos each and every day. So, if you take the time to create some stunning, insightful or interesting snapshots, they’re going to make the rounds.
Don’t have the exact photo you need? Check out this article for 74 free stock photo sites for stunning images like this one from Unsplash.
If you’re creating a large amount of visuals for social media, set up templates to make the process as quick and easy as possible. The more painless it is for you to create the graphics, the more you’ll have for your fans to share.
4. Tap into visual trends
Are you afraid that your visual content won’t look hip enough? Here’s my secret: Pinterest research. Pinterest is my favorite place to search for visual trends because it’s a visual medium. It has everything from quote cards to infographics. You can also use Pinterest to discover what graphics are resonating with the audience by its number of repins.
Of course, you should never copy the visual content exactly. Instead, think of what exactly appeals to you about the image and what common elements all of the most pinned items have.
Take a look at this example I pulled from Pinterest:
Which quote are you drawn to? What stands out the most? Is it the font, the background image? Do you like the colors?
Notice how the middle pin has almost 18,000 repins. It’s simple black and white, with no background image, and it works because of the message is about not sugar coating. Also take note that “but never” is visually emphasized.
Remember graphics don’t need to be complicated to be impactful. In fact, the simpler the better. The current trend is to strip away any elements that compete with your message.
So, if you keep your finger on the pulse of visual trends by using networks like Pinterest to deconstruct these trends, you’ll be creating trendy, attention grabbing and super shareable content in no time at all.
5. Brand your graphics
The point of creating highly shareable social media graphics is to drive people back to your site. Unfortunately, I come across untraceable graphics all the time. There’s nothing worse than finding an informative graphic, and wanting to get more information from the publisher, but not knowing where it came from.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Make sure that you always, without a doubt, add a watermark to your graphics. And no, it doesn’t have to be an obnoxious, full color logo sticker. A simple link to your website towards the bottom of your graphic will answer the need for branding.
Also, don’t forget about templates. No matter if you’re using quotes, infographics, photographs, or other elements, be sure to create a template for the sake of consistency. When you follow a graphic template, your followers will instantly know it’s you without having to see your name (but you should still add your name anyway).
Consider using the same font type and size, the same emotional message (happiness, silliness, charity), and similar filters for all of your visual content. With a template, you won’t forget what font you used, and you’ll have a stronger visual impression with your audience.
Here’s a few examples to consider when developing your visual branding template:
Color Palettes: What is your brand about? Is it young and friendly? Consider vibrant colors like orange or yellow. Is it about trust and dependability? Make blue your stand out color.
Define and use these colors in your fonts and your image borders. Here’s a few color palettes to inspire you:
Font Combinations: Take two or three fonts and mix them up for visual interest. There’s no right or wrong font combination, unless you use Comic Sans (which is always wrong), but try to go with a combination of Serif and Sans Serif fonts. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Filters: If your color is wonky or you just want to add a romantic flair to your photos, filters can enhance and elevate. Adding some carefully selected filters can highlight and add a nice touch to your original images, making them twice as appealing and shareable. Take a look at what we’re able to do with one photo using four filters:
Filters are also a great way to create consistency with your branding. Creating and applying your own filters to all of your graphics gives you more control over the images for a more defined brand personality.
It’s your turn.
Which one of these design hacks will you try in your social media campaign? Come on, it’s so easy, you’ve got to try at least one. Let us know in the comments below.