Creating compelling visual imagery for your social media profiles has never been more important for your brand. Not only are Facebook, Twitter and Google+ all adapting their layouts to make images more central to the user’s experience, but the two fastest growing social networks – Pinterest and Instagram – both put pictures rather than text at the forefront.
With the upcoming changes to Facebook's newsfeed placing more emphasis on images and increasing their size, powerful images, now more than ever, are an integral part of successful social media engagement.
Research from Socialbakers shows that photos are the most shared post types by brands on Facebook at 77% and made up 93% of the most shared brand posts across the site. Tweets featuring images see 88% more retweets than tweets with links and 19% more retweets than those that are text only. Gratifying the short attention spans of the social audience, images are quickly and effortlessly consumed, making content easier to digest and share.
Therefore, graphic design plays an important role, not only in building brand awareness and recognition, but also attracting the user's attention. Because of this, marketers and social media managers should have a basic understanding of graphic design, especially design that works where your social audience spends most of their time: online and on mobile devices. When graphics are used consistently over various platforms, customers may view it several times over, in turn generating more brand recognition.
Social media imagery is essential to getting people to follow you, so here we will provide you with a few tips on how to create the best imagery for your posts.
Images are a great way to emotionally connect your audience. When you use photos, always aim to make them original and true to your brand. People tend to react well to pictures of "real" people, but we distance ourselves from stock photos because they are associated with advertising and spam. Clean, simple images from a decent camera are best. If you are going to overlay text on the image, shoot with this in mind, so compose your image to incorporate white space.
Always keep consistency with your identity and branding. When you create your own images, always include your logo. This shows it's your original image and increases brand awareness. If it's simply not possible to create your own images due to time/resource constraints, here's our guide to sourcing images without getting into trouble.
Keep It Relevant
Something many brands do is post images of irrelevant content for the sake of likes. All your images should deliver your brand message and hopefully have your own unique style. The most highly engaging graphics have a sound strategy behind them and aren't just jumping on the "cute animal pics" bandwagon for the sake of it. Choose your words and colours carefully and you'll be rewarded by your community.
Entertain Your Audience
Users like to be entertained. Share your funny stories or ideas and come up with creative ways to present your product or service. Facebook is the place where users have the opportunity to really get to know the brand's personality. Many brands have also seen the advantage of sharing behind-the-scenes images and photos of everyday-life situations.
Know Your Target Group
People engage with brand pages to express their opinions and individuality, and if you understand your users, you can use that information to make content that they will relate to, and if it's clever, share as a statement. Regular updates and competitions that genuinely engage with the irreverent attitude of the online audience will go lengths in building confidence in your brand.
The Importance Of Colour
When selecting the colours to use in your graphic, always consider your target audience. It's important to select colours to stand out, while staying on brand. It’s a good idea to choose colours that differ from the Facebook-blue to draw more attention to the image.
Generally, as you'll see with the examples further below, it's a great idea to colour pick from your logo and image, if you're using one. Have a look at the type of graphics that are successful in your field. Which colours are most popular and appropriate? Also, consider the general psychology of colour theory. For example, studies show that both men and women tend to really like blue and dislike brown.
Choose The Right Font
When choosing your font, it's essential to stay consistent with your branding and identity. Examples of places you can source free fonts for download are FontSquirrel.com, Google.com/WebFonts and DaFont.com. When placing text, add a comment or question that encourages users to interact and add comments of their own.
Keep Up To Date With Graphic Dimensions
Keep in mind that these are constantly changing as each site updates their layouts, so it's a good idea to regularly check for new dimensions. Always remember to resize your images for social media. When people aren’t in front of a computer, they’re in front of a smartphone or tablet. The larger the photo and the greater the resolution, the longer it takes to process.
You only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention. It's wasted pixels if the user isn't going to wait for it to load, so always resize. Here's a very handy infographic for all the pixel dimensions and sizes you'll need for creating your social media images.
Educate, Motivate, & Inspire
While brainstorming what kind of quotes or information to include on your graphics, remember that people want to be educated. It’s fun to learn something new everyday – especially if it's short, easily remembered, helpful, funny or particularly thought provoking. You’ll want to choose your quotes or statistics carefully to ensure they resonate with your target market. You should also ensure your image and quote complements the industry you’re in.
Since there are so many examples out there, here is a selection of great brand examples for you to take inspiration from.
Most brands will have created themed seasonal graphics recently for St. Patrick's Day. Here, make-up brand Benefit gets it just right, staying very true to their brand with their signature speech bubble and font, incorporating green for their text colour and into their logo in honour of St. Patrick's Day.
A very simple, but creative wall image from Heineken shows a green bottle on the left, a pint on the right with white space in the middle to create a clever Irish flag.
A great way of showing of your product is to create a shape or image using your product. Here, Subway cleverly built a rainbow out of their sandwich fillings.
Here's a similar example in which McDonald's created the text "Hot 'n'Spicy", to describe the product by building the words from the chillies!
Again, Clarks shoes have ingeniously created a flower from its product for Mother's Day. Also worth noting is its consistent branding and font as well as the use of white space in the graphic.
Another method that brands use to engage their fans is by creating simple but engaging 'game' graphics. In this example, Bulmers selected this beautiful product image and altered one of them for a 'Spot the Difference' game. An idea like this ensures retaining fan attention as they try to complete the task.
A similar idea here where Fairy created a maze in which the user has to figure out which route leads to the Fairy pack. A very straightforward idea, but the excellent use of branding and colour and time spent looking at it will help enormously in increasing brand awareness.
Many brands also go down the route of posting nicely designed quotes. Here, Nike remain consistent with its brand authenticity with its font choice and colours. As it's such a well-known brand, even without the logo below, it's likely that you could guess what brand it is.
The Body Shop
Again, staying consistent with its identity through the use of font and colour choices, The Body Shop created a simple inspiring quote with its logo taking prime place below.
Another excellent way to engage your audience is to ask a question. Here, Domino's create a great graphic with a question. The background texture looks like a pizza box and the colours used are very much in keeping with its branding, as well as the subtle logo in the corner.
A great way to overlay text nicely on an image is to blur out your photo. Here, Malibu created a beautiful graphic, again posing a question, with a great composition of the elements. The colours in the photo are again complementing its logo while creating that warm relaxed Caribbean vibe emanated from its advertising.
Generally, the industry standard for creating graphics is PhotoShop. However, if you're unable to acquire PhotoShop, here are a selection of great free alternatives for you to try:
When it comes to content marketing creation, there is absolutely no doubt that visuals are an essential component for increasing and retaining your reach. Hence, generating attractive and engaging graphics should be the priority for your brand.
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