One of the biggest long-term social media trends is the importance of visuals. It may well be a cliché, but a picture truly does paint a thousand words. Research consistently shows that users engage more with visual content such as photos, videos, memes and infographics than with text alone. While this is fairly well known, how do you make the most of it if you’re promoting a business on social media? Here are some guidelines that will help you attract more engagement with your visuals.
Use a Variety of Visuals
There are many types of visual content that can help you engage with your social media followers. For best results, mix things up and don’t always post the same type of content. You can post:
- Animated GIFs
You have to consider the style of your brand and your audience, of course. Everyone, however, likes a certain amount of variety. You also have quite a bit of leeway within each category. You can post photos of your products or place of business. You could also do tie-ins with events and destinations. If you have a food product, for example, you might show people using it in a variety of situations.
Use High Quality and Original Images
When you start looking for photos and other images to use on social media, it’s tempting to search for the cheapest and least labor-intensive solution. There are millions of stock photos you can find on various sites. While these can be useful in certain situations, such images won’t help you brand yourself. Keep in mind that the images you choose may already be on 100 other sites.
One step up from free stock photos are images you pay for, such as on Getty Images. These are generally better quality but they’re still not your images. Consider taking the time to post your own unique images. These may be photos taken by you or someone on your team, memes or infographics you create using software such as Canva, Visem.co or others. You could also outsource the creation of custom images or videos using freelancer sites such as Fiverr. There can be benefits to using stock photos, such as when you want a generic image of a landmark, beach, city skyline, animal, or another popular topic. However, you should also build your brand by creating your own custom images.
There’s yet another reason to use your own custom images rather than ones you find online. When you download stock images, even ones that you supposedly have permission to use, there’s always a chance of infringing on a copyright. When you create unique images, you can be certain that you own the copyright.
Brand Your Visuals
Visual content helps you attract more attention and engagement. You also want to make sure that you brand yourself, however. Display your logo as much as possible. This is yet another reason to use custom images. You can always make sure your logo or business name is visible in the background of your videos as well.
Cultivate a style that reflects your brand. While it’s fine and even helpful to vary the type of content you publish, you should also maintain a certain consistency in your style. This might be formal and professional, whimsical, or hip and modern. A recognizable style, combined with a visible logo and business name, will ensure that your followers can identify your content at a glance.
Use Native Video on Facebook
Remember that videos are also visual marketing and one of the most popular types of media. However, not all video is equal. When you post videos to Facebook, it makes a big difference whether you’re using native video or posting from YouTube or another third-party video-sharing site.
Research consistently reveals that native video gets more engagement on Facebook. This is due to both Facebook’s own algorithm and users’ perception. A native video fits seamlessly with the page while a video from another site doesn’t look quite as, well, native.
Optimize YouTube Videos
Along with native Facebook videos, YouTube videos are also quite valuable for brand building. Since Google owns YouTube, optimizing your videos on this platform can help you rank on Google as well as YouTube itself. There are several ways to get the most out of YouTube videos.
- Use keyword-rich titles for your videos.
- Fill out a full description of your videos, using as many keywords as possible.
- Create custom thumbnails. YouTube chooses a random thumbnail to show potential viewers. By customizing your thumbnails with compelling images you can get more views. Other sites, including Facebook, also let you customize your thumbnails.
- Activate Close Captioning for your videos. While this feature is mostly for the hearing-impaired, it also lets you include more keywords for the search engines to find. It’s also good for the many people who watch videos without the sound or who may be in loud places where they can’t hear properly. For can also upload a transcript of your video and use this as the video description.
Encourage Followers to Contribute
User-generated content or UGC helps you build engagement while giving you diverse content you don’t have to create yourself. You might hold Facebook and Instagram contests for best photos or short videos. Another way to encourage people to post images is to create a hashtag on a theme related to your business and invite followers to contribute.
Repurpose Your Text into Visual Content
When you start thinking about posting more visual content, you have to consider where it will all come from. It’s true that any content strategy requires some combination of work or expenditure. However, you can save on both time and money by repurposing existing content. If you have a body of blog posts and articles, you can turn them into:
- Slideshows. For longer articles, extract the key points for a slideshow.
- Videos. You can use software such as Animoto to add images and music to existing text.
- Podcasts. You can simply read your articles into a mic or use them as a starting point for your discussion.
There’s no doubt that visual content is one of your best tools for getting attention on social media. It’s not enough to simply grab random images, however. You need to find or create relevant high-quality images that reflect your brand’s style.