When it comes to social media posts, images and video matter, which means that being able to create visual content for social media matters.
The human brain is geared towards processing visual images faster than any other form of communication and this makes them the key to successful social media posts.
Engaging with consumers is always a challenge, especially when you only have seconds (or even micro-seconds) to make a connection with someone through their mobile screen.
It is a fact that 90% of the information that comes to the brain is visual (Hyerle, 2000) and it arrives there fast. So fast, that it only takes about 1/4 second for the human brain to process and attach meaning to an image. By comparison, it takes an average of 6 seconds to read around 25 words.
And with the huge number of social postings that are published each day, you need to be using visual that are instantly recognisable, impactful and attention-grabbing.
So when you are planning your postings, here are 10 tips on how to create stand-out visual content for social media posts.
1. Conformity of branding
Make sure that all your visuals are aligned to your brand image and your brand style guide.
All your visuals across all your media should both complement and conform to your brand image and be recognisable as a part of your brand. The only exception to this is if your campaign is one that is deliberately designed to make the viewers stop and question the context of the content.
Brand recognition is worth millions and takes time and consistency to build; don’t derail your branding by suddenly producing visual content that doesn’t fit your brand message.
This will drastically reduce the impact of the post and leave the consumers confused.
2. Remember your logo
In line with the first point above, if there is a chance that your post is going to be shared outside of your direct feed, then remember to put your logo on it.
The point of social media posts is marketing, exposure and engagement – none of which is possible if no one know who you are!
You want your social media posts to be seen. Beyond that, if you create them well, you can have a lot of them spread further (if they are any good) by viewers/followers sharing with their social contacts. This is leveraging the true power of social media.
So make sure your posts can be identified as yours!
3. Images from the right sources
It’s good advice to always use your own, custom images and video for social media content if you can – and that the most cost-effective way to create these is by using a professional service. (For more discussion on this point – read “Are free professional photos worth it?“)
If bespoke professional images are not for you at this time (and there is no longer an excuse for that – see how little it actually costs today) then there are alternatives.
Stock photography will provide thousands of downloadable images to use at varying prices – but always be sure to check the terms and conditions of use (licencing). Some you can use only one, some multiple times, and there are often exceptions to usage forms. Always make sure you have read and understood the copyright position of each image that you plan to use.
To keep it simple – go ‘Pro’.
4. Use the right format
Wherever you source your images from – get the maximum resolution available. You can always scale down, but you cannot scale an image up.
This is important, because each social media platform has different requirements for minimum resolution, size, aspect ratio and format.
Unless you have a professional company supplying your social media visuals, you will need to edit each image and make sure it conforms to the platform’s specifications.
If the source image is too small, then enlarging it will make it look grainy/blurry (see below). If it’s in the wrong aspect ratio, then it can appear squashed or stretched by the time it is uploaded to your post.
These are all problems that will make your business appear unprofessional, and errors such as this should not be made.
Compare the three images below – (1) the original, (2) a small image expanded to the same size and (3) the image amended to a square format.
Only the first one is acceptable, as the original source image was of high enough quality.
5. Limit the amount of text on your images
If you are positioning text over an image you are posting, it must be short and be readable.
Facebook suggests that images with less than 20% text perform better than those with more, so keep it as short as possible, while still conveying the message.
Next, take a step back and view the text as an image as far as the layout goes – it needs to be visually effective.
And it must be readable. Check your fonts and colour palette used on the text. A huge majority of fancy fonts are not so easy to read – so stick to simpler ones. As for colours – red and green don’t mix well together for text – and neither does blue and yellow. Both these combinations are a challenge to read easily.
Finally, check your spelling and grammar! Even if the text is short, use an online free tool such as Grammarly for checking. A few seconds at this point can make all the difference between a polished, professional post and one that is disregarded due to a simple error.
6. Use video
Rather than just using still images, try and incorporate video into your post planning.
Video creates better engagement opportunities and viewer retention than images – and marketers who use video say it grows revenue 49% faster year-on-year than their competitors who don’t.
With the wonders of today’s technology, you can even create clickable videos – these can be a simple click-through to a landing page, it choice options which allow the view to decide ‘what happens next’.
These are especially good for engagement, as it puts the viewer in control of their experience.
7. Use animation
Animate! If you can’t generate video, use animation! And if you can’t animate – then at least animate your text and titles over your still images!
Simple text animations are easy with many online resources enabling you to do this.
Photo images are great for engagement – and animated titles are great for attention. So, by
creating movement over a still image, you’re getting the best of both worlds!
Animating your text draws attention but also highlights the message – it is far more likely to be retained in the mind of the viewer than plain text. However – keep it simple. As with our comments about text above, it is very easy to overdo it, which is distracting and is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
Keep it simple, keep it effective. Keep it engaging.
Here’s a great example we put together. A 50-second video which is made up of still images, plus a little (subtle) text animation.
8. Don’t forget SEO optimisation
SEO optimisation is always important – and social media posts are no exception.
Instagram uses hashtags – but these are searchable, so make sure that you treat them as keywords. Also include geotags as well, as these also help yield better results in the explore tab.
Whichever platforms you use (and there are too many to go into a deep exploration here), learn the essentials of keywords and hashtags for them.
Your visual content is not much use if it is not discoverable.
9. Always use alt-text description with every image.
On your website, and on every platform that allows it, always take full advantage of the alt-text descriptions.
Alt-text is vitally important for your images. So much so that, according to WebAIM, inappropriate use of (or, zero) alt-text is the most problematic aspect of web accessibility.
Alt-text is great for two reasons. First, and most importantly, it provides important assistance to those that need it – the visually impaired. Alt-text should be short and to the point but contain enough information to assist those that need it to understand the context of the image and its purpose in the post.
Secondly – it is an important part of image SEO optimisation. Because it is so vital to those that need it, Google (rightly so) places a lot of significance on the use of alt-text.
If you don’t use it, you will be penalised.
10. Keep diversity in mind
When you are planning and using images, video and other visual content, remember representation.
There really is not much more to be said about this, as it should be apparent, but bear in mind the markets that you are trying to reach, geographically and culturally.
All your posts, on whichever platform you are using, should be appropriate and inclusive.
If you want to learn more about the importance of social media visual content, and how you can grow your gallery exponentially, then talk to Splento.
They can give you guidance about how to refresh your brand or even just to help accelerate your growth.
Social engagement is the key to success in the online marketing world – and social media is an amazing tool for this specific task.
If you already know what you need, especially if you need it fast, then take a look at the Ultimate Brand Asset Gallery, which will give you all the social media material you need for the foreseeable future – and beyond.
Help your social media content get more attention – create visual content for social media today.