social media how toDo you want to create posts that generate higher user engagement?

Are your visuals driving social media traffic?

People engage better with visual content because it’s easier to understand, can tell a story and evoke emotions more easily than written posts.

In this article I’ll show you 11 ways to increase social sharing and fan engagement with images.

use visuals for engagement

Discover how to use visuals to engage your audience.

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#1: Combine Visuals With Hashtag Campaigns

Hashtag campaigns have huge potential to boost the number of people talking about your brand. They encourage fans to create and share content around a particular hashtag or topic.

Visual posts designed for your brand’s hashtag help establish your campaign on social media channels. Visual posts are also more likely to be shared than text posts, making them a great way to kickstart your campaign.

benefit cosmetics hashtag post

Benefit Cosmetics created visual posts around a hashtag campaign.

Benefit Cosmetics used visual posts to drive their #12daysofbenefit campaign, encouraging fans to share an image to enter a competition. The above ad was retweeted numerous times, helping boost awareness for the campaign and encouraging people to participate.

benefit cosmetics hashtag post responses

Fans respond with positive comments using Benefit’s hashtag.

#2: Thank Your Followers

Thanking your followers when you reach milestones includes them in your company’s journey. This expression of gratitude makes your brand more accessible and encourages fans to leave comments about their personal experiences.

Language learning brand Duolingo regularly updates fans about their growth. Below, Duolingo uses a visual post to thank fans for reaching half a million likes for their Facebook page. Notice the high number of fan comments leaving positive feedback on the post.

duolingo fan thankyous

Duolingo’s fans thank the brand for their language service.

Since these visual posts are likely to attract high engagement from your fans, it’s important to brand them by including your logo and fonts, as in the Facebook post above.

#3: Show Off Your Brand Culture

With social media comes the expectation for brands to be transparent. You can use compelling visuals to humanize your brand and give fans a reason to interact with it authentically and regularly.

kinfolk images

Kinfolk posts behind-the-scenes photographs to create a sense of community.

You can add a human element by showing what happens behind the scenes of your brand. Lifestyle magazine Kinfolk does this by posting photographs of events and functions their staff attends. This allows Kinfolk’s fans to experience the brand beyond their primary product—a magazine.

#4: Embed Social Media Posts in Your Blog

Blogs are a great tool for brands to build an identity, share ideas and interact with fans on a personal level. In addition to social media sharing widgets, which help spread your visual content across multiple networks, also consider embedded pins and posts and shareable links.

You can embed pins, tweets and posts easily from their source. For example, on Twitter, select the Embed This Tweet option to see the HTML code for a tweet, as shown below. Just copy the HTML code into your website or blog, and the social media post will be interactive. Now, people can like your post and follow you straight from your blog.

html tweet embed code

Copy the HTML code to embed a tweet in your website or blog.

Another great way to share your visual content is to embed shareable links in your blog. Post Planner uses this strategy effectively within their blog posts. They use clear links to make it easy for readers to tweet individual images. Remember, the easier your content is to share, the more users will engage with it.

tweetable link in post planner update

Post Planner includes tweetable links for easy sharing.

#5: Create a Series

Creating a visual series of graphics generates a sense of familiarity with your posts and encourages fans to engage. When designing a visual series, use your brand elements consistently, but change the content of your images. Not only will your series be visually interesting, but you can also create multiple designs quickly.

visual image series example

Create a visual series to generate a sense of familiarity.

#6: Incorporate Questions

When posing questions on social media, choose a topic that will interest your target audience. Think about the most popular aspects of your product or service and what makes your brand unique among your competitors.

Write the question in both the text of your post and in your design. Because images stand out in fans’ news feeds, make sure you use an eye-catching design and state the topic clearly. You can try different types of questions, such as this vs. that, multiple choice, fill in the blank and choose a caption.

mcdonalds voting posts

McDonald’s uses a voting approach to engage user comments.

In this example McDonald’s Facebook page asks fans to rate their favorite products. By pointing to items they know are popular, McDonald’s is tapping into their fans’ interests, contributing to positive engagement.

#7: Optimize Graphics for Social Sharing

To encourage sharing in your blog, always use high-quality images that will look good when shared on social media.

Format all of your images to a particular size and use that sizing consistently across all of your social media networks. For example, Canva formats graphics so they look good as the banner for posts, but will also crop well when shared on Facebook, Google and Twitter.

canva image

Use high-quality images that will look good when shared on social media.

Make a note of the minimum dimensions for each social network. You want your images to be big enough to look good across all social platforms.

pinterest dimensions board

Optimize your blog graphics for different social media platforms.

#8: Convey Humor

Social media visuals are an excellent opportunity to use humor. While many people tune into brand social media pages for updates or inspiration, sometimes they’re just looking for entertainment.

Using humor in your visual posts infuses your brand with personality. Nutella and M&M’s U.S.A. are two brands that do this extremely well, using sarcasm and puns to appeal to their fans.

m&ms and nutella images

M&M’s U.S.A. and Nutella use humor to add personality to their visual posts and elicit positive comments.

#9: Crowdsource Photo Captions

Crowdsourcing photo captions is about appealing to your target audience. Remember that your fans are real people too, so think of topics that would speak to you and your friends.

Pringles used this crowdsourcing technique on their Facebook page by posting a photograph of a bowl of chips and asking, “How do you eat your Pringles?”

pringles image post

Pringles uses an enticing image on their Facebook page to encourage fans to comment.

This style of content meshes well with the humorous and lighthearted persona of Pringles’ Facebook page. When crowdsourcing captions, be conscious of maintaining your brand persona or voice.

#10: Share Quotes

Quotes reveal snippets of your brand’s personality. They help reveal what you like, what inspires you and should speak to the beliefs of your fans and followers. If people can relate to a quote, they will be quick to share and engage from their own pages.

When designing quote graphics, feel free to experiment with your visual assets, but make sure the design’s message is relevant and authentic. For example, the design below would be a great social media post to start the week for an entrepreneurial blog.

quote image post

Design an inspiring quote to appeal to your fans and followers.

#11: Capitalize on Current Events

Social media thrives on the idea of being up to date with the latest topics and trends, which makes people more likely to share content that is fresh and relevant.

The holiday season is a significant time of year for businesses and especially for brands that sell products. Tiffany & Co.‘s #ATiffanyHoliday campaign is a great use of visual content.

The campaign featured images of the brand’s jewelry placed in cartoons created by design firm Ogilvy and Mathers.

tiffany and company image post

Tiffany & Co. featured a series of cartoons on social media to launch their seasonal Christmas campaign.

By using visual content to give the campaign character, Tiffany & Co. demonstrated a clever way to market their products, while infusing their social media channels with Christmas holiday charm.

Put These Skills Into Action

Visual posts are a refreshing contrast to the clutter of written content posted online every day. Not only can they help your brand stand out, but they can also engage the interest of your fans in personal and authentic ways.

How important are visual posts in your current social media strategy? What are some your favorite ways to engage your audience? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  • Thanks for this very well written overview. Indeed, visual is everywhere. Personally, I am more attracted to visual first and hence understand the need and importance of having at least one in each of my blogposts. What more crucial is that as I do abstract drawing, it is heartening to know that my supporters look forward to each new artpiece on each new post. And it is engaging. Thanks once again 🙂

  • Puranjay

    #3 is my favorite tactic. I like to see how businesses operate behind the scenes and candid ‘culture’ shots go a long way towards making the business appear more human and humble.

    I know it works great for lifestyle brands (my favorite is the Apolis feed on Instagram), but some B2B brands pull it off pretty well too (personal favorite is Buffer).

  • Marlene Gray Marketing

    I am just starting out as a freelance marketer and find these tips invaluable! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Michael

    It’s Ogilvy & Mather (no s)

  • Thanks for this great overview!

    Visual posts are important in my current social media strategy. I like to share quotes. Thanks for the reminder about saying, “Thank You.” 🙂 I’ll also capitalize on current events and ask questions.

    I “test” posts to see which ones do the best. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!

  • LaWuandia

    BRAVO!!!! Great advise, I will certainly make immediate use of #2 and #6, I’m still trying to understand the whole hashtag thing – Thanks Anna G

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  • Anna Guerrero

    Hi Sandy, everyone has their own visual style. Good to hear you’re developing yours!

  • Anna Guerrero

    Hi Puranjay, I agree! People gravitate towards brands with a human aspect. Shows the importance of a strong brand identity!

  • Anna Guerrero

    Glad you enjoyed the post, Marlene!

  • Anna Guerrero

    Thanks for pointing that out, Michael!

  • Anna Guerrero

    That’s a great approach, Amandah! Every brand is unique, so their visual needs are going to be different. Good luck with your visual marketing.

  • Anna Guerrero

    Glad there were some points you could take away 🙂

  • Emmett Hughes


    Always best practice to add visuals when engaging audience. We always try using images with tweets but don’t always find the time to create remarkable imagery due to time restraints. In your opinion do you find it’s better to just “throw something up” or continue without the use of an image?


  • Really enjoyable read. #8 is one which I’m trying to implement at the moment in my company’s social media. It’s quite a tricky technique to gauge what type of humour your target market will be receptive to. Developing a humorous light hearted personal brand is much more fun for the people developing the brand and also for the market base thats being targeted.

  • treb072410

    Thanks for sharing Anna, very useful information being shared here..

  • Luke Guy

    Great article. Apps like Wordswag for iPhone are great for point #7. It gives you the previews for what will be seen on each social network. Great for a polished look to your tweets and posts.

  • Flight Media

    Great post!
    As someone who always learned visually I couldn’t imagine good Social Media campaign without the support of visuals. It just gives you so much to play around with! One of my favs is advice I got from Peg Fitzpatrick, where visuals can help you re-purpose your content. Pulling your own ideas and quotes and transforming them into visual is great way to squeeze just a bit more out of the content you shared. We started doing that ourselves and the response from our audience was great!
    Again, great post! 🙂
    – Maja

  • Lauren

    Loved this! Thanks for sharing all of these fantastical ways to boost our social media strategy.

    Also, minor typo- What are some *of* your favorite ways to engage your audience?
    it’s in your question at the end of the article.

  • Shonda

    I think these are good examples, but they don’t take into account the Facebook image uploader that automatically downgrades images with 25% or more area covered in text.

  • Shonda

    I think these are good examples, but they don’t take into account the Facebook image uploader that automatically downgrades images with 25% or more area covered in text.

  • Awesome post! So helpful! Thank you!

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  • The idea of post questions to your audience about your products/services helps to give you a good “feel” of what your audience’s honest thoughts about your products/services are. It is good way to get some sort of feedback from them

  • Thanks for the overview of how to engage your audience. I’ve used a few of these tactics and they work well. I particularly like #3. It’s the one that I really enjoy to incorporate. Give your audience/customers a behind the scene look about your business and products. I find myself following businesses and individuals that display a lot of behind the scenes.

    I may have to look into the quote idea and see how I can implement that. Thanks!