How to Create Visual Social Media Content

social media how to Do you use images to boost engagement?

Are you looking for tools to create better visual content?

Creating compelling visuals for your social media marketing can be challenging.

In this article you’ll find just about every resource you need to create visual stories on all of the major social platforms.

The Big Picture

Visual content has become extremely important to marketers’ social tactics. That’s because of a growing consumer interest in images as evidenced by popular sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat.

People connect more emotionally with images than they do with text. In fact, customers are more likely to take action or make a decision when prompted with an image.

That means brands using visual social media content to drive a stronger message to their audience will naturally cut through the noise and rise to the top.

Here’s a lot of important stuff you need to know about visual content for social media marketing.

#1: Making the Case for Visual Content in Social Media

The use of visual content in social media has exploded, partly because it’s so easy to create and share images and video with a smartphone, and partly because images are more persuasive than text content. Here are some important reasons why you should include visual stories in your social marketing tactics.

Why Use Visual Content in Social Media Marketing?: Over at the Marketing Tech Blog, Douglas Karr breaks it down for us with an infographic (of course) to explain why any social marketing should be dominated by visuals.

marketing tech blog

Read up on why your social media should have a visual focus over on the Marketing Tech Blog.

Visual Social Media: How Images Improve Your Social Media Marketing: In this Social Media Examiner podcast, visual marketing expert Donna Moritz explains the importance of visual content, and how you can use images to take your marketing to a whole new level.

The Facts and Figures on the Power of Visual Content Marketing: Jeff Bullas takes it home with an explanation of why pictures have become so popular and why using them is smart. He reinforces his point with another amazing infographic that proves how powerful visual content is!

jeff bullas blog

Jeff Bullas shares the facts on using visual content in your marketing.

#2: Exploring Types of Visual Content

There are different types of visual content, ranging from images and video to infographics and SlideShare presentations. Some are easy and cheap to create, while some might require a professional designer. For small businesses looking to get big results on a small budget, check out Fiverr for great deals. Here are some ideas for visual content that will help make your message more engaging.

Four Types of Visual Content That Cut Through the Noise: Ekaterina Walter (author of The Power of Visual Storytelling) shares four types of visual content that your brand should definitely be using to engage communities and customers.

jeff bullas blog

Find 4 ways to use different visual media on Ekaterina Walter’s blog.

28 Ideas for Engaging Visual Content to Post on Social Media: Jennifer Kardell gives us 28 more ways (some simple, some outright genius) to use visual social media content to connect with buyers.

30 Compelling Examples of Visual Storytelling on the Web: For some great examples of visual content, check out these amazing illustrations shared by Jessica Moon on Digital Telepathy. They’ll definitely inspire your visual creativity.

digital telepathy blog

Digital Telepathy explores 30 examples of visual content.

#3: Creating Visual Content

Creating powerful visual content can be challenging. Fortunately, with a little work and some tips from these articles, you should have no problem at all. Check them out:

26 Ways to Use Visuals in Your Social Media Marketing: Strategy, strategy, strategy—that’s where it all starts. Social Media Examiner’s very own Debbie Hemley is a genius with her complete A–Z guide for getting started with a visual strategy. This might seem like a lot to digest, but once you have it down, you can execute these ideas across multiple social channels (including your blog).

10 Free Design Tools for Creating Stunning Visual Content: HubSpot’s Ginny Soskey will blow your mind with these free tools for creating stunning visual content. Everything from infographic templates to tools for sprucing up images, it’s all in there.

hubspot blog

HubSpot shows you 10 free tools to create visual content.

How to Make Visual Content for Social Media in 5 Minutes: Here’s yet another great post by Ginny! This time she shows you how to customize an image for social media in just five minutes! Don’t miss it.

5 Tips to Make Your Visual Content Pop: Fandom Marketing covers five secrets for designing images for the social web. These tips will not only make your visuals look great, they’ll grab your readers’ attention as well!

fandom visual content

The 5 tips in Fandom’s deck will help you design visual content.

#4: Getting Your Visual Content Shared

Creating compelling visual content is only part of the equation. Now your audience needs to know it exists! Make sure you distribute your visual content far and wide via social media and encourage others to pass it along to their friends and peers. Here are some tips for sharing your images.

4 Tips for Making Visual Content Go Viral—and Benefit Your Business: Dan Tynski over at Content Marketing Institute shares a study that takes a look at the viral potential of visual content on Google+. Although the research only looked at Google+, the implications are intriguing and can be applied to other social platforms as well. This is fascinating stuff.

There’s an App for That: How to Get the Most From Your Visual Content: In this post from Social Media Today, Erika LaChance shows us how to use some of the most popular apps (Instagram, Vine, Snapchat and Pinterest) to distribute your visual content and increase engagement with your brand.

content marketing institute blog

Social Media Today has a list of apps to help you distribute your visual content.

#5: Learning the Rules for Using Online Images

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you know the risk of uploading and using Google images on your site. It’s really important to make sure you’re playing by the rules and getting permission for any online images you use. Here are some tips about the right (and wrong) ways to use online images.

Copyright, Fair Use and How it Works for Online Images: Sara Hawkins (a lawyer and blogger) cautions us about the right and wrong way to use online images. If you use Flickr, Photobucket and similar resources to get your blog images, make sure you have permission and give credit to the original creator of that work.

10 Do’s and Don’ts for Using Stock Photos in Your Marketing [SlideShare]: HubSpot’s Ginny Soskey shares a brilliant SlideShare presentation by Brittany Leaning that makes boring stock photos fun. In fact, her best tip is “Don’t assume all stock photos are cheesy.” Take a look and see what she means.

hubspot visual content dos and donts

Make sure to follow these easy do’s and dont’s from HubSpot.

#6: Using Instagram

With Instagram, marketers have a potential audience of 100 million active users who take over 40 million photos per day. Take a look at these brilliant ideas for using Instagram to reach a broader customer base.

10 Creative Ways to Use Instagram for Business: Vanessa Au gives away some great content ideas for getting extra visibility for your brand images with the Instagram community! Very cool post.

16 Creative Uses of Instagram Video: In just 15 seconds, you can create visually compelling videos to share on Instagram. Check out these fun (and sometimes funny) videos from brands that clearly know how to engage. Max Knoblauch will have you rolling on the floor laughing and learning at the same time.

mashable visual content

Mashable lists a number of examples to help you create your own visual content.

#7: Pinning on Pinterest

Pinterest has become a household name. It’s the fastest-growing social network with over 70 million users. But perhaps the most attractive feature about this platform is the massive web traffic referrals (66.5%) it generates for marketers. Here are some ways you can leverage Pinterest for your business.

21 Unexpected Ways Brands Can Use Pinterest: Courtney Seiter at Marketing Land is all about using Pinterest in interesting ways. Some of these you already know, but there are some well-kept secrets in there too!

marketingland visual content

Use these examples from Marketing Land to spur your visual content creativity.

10 Creative Ways to Use Pinterest for Marketing: Since direct sales content is not allowed on Pinterest, Susan Gunelius of Sprout Social talks about 10 ways to do indirect marketing.

#8: Leveraging Flickr

Flickr is probably the best place to put pictures on the Internet these days. Flickr users upload and share 1.4 million photos a day and their pictures don’t slide down to the bottom of their friends’ news feeds. Here are some tips for leveraging Flickr.

5 Tips to Increase Your Visibility With Flickr: Ann Smarty addresses some common misconceptions about Flickr and how to use the platform to raise overall visibility for your brand.

jeff bullas blog

Ann Smarty shares visual content visibility tips for Flickr on Jeff Bullas’s blog.

More Than Photo Sharing: 5 Unique Uses for Flickr: Great post from Nancy Messieh that shows how to go beyond photo sharing to give your audience a more compelling visual experience.

makeuseof blog

Find visual content examples on MakeUseOf.

#9: Capitalizing on Visual Content

Visual content was already important in 2013. Going forward, an even greater emphasis will be placed on images and video as larger numbers of your target audience use mobile platforms and social channels. Here are some resources to inform your visual content strategy.

Visual Content Marketing: Capture and Engage Your Audience: If you have 58 minutes to sit in on this webinar, it’ll be well worth your time. In this presentation, the good folks at Marketo demonstrate how to leverage visual content to create a successful social media campaign.

6 Ways Social Media Marketers Should Capitalize on the Visual Content Revolution: And if you don’t have 58 minutes, check out how Pamela Vaughan breaks it down into six easy steps in this infographic.

hubspot blog

This infographic on HubSpot shares some key campaign points.

Well, there you have it!

Pictures are in, text is out. With these tips from the experts, it should be no problem to create and implement visual stories into your social media marketing.

What do you think? What other visual content resources do you have? Link them up for us in the comment box below!

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About the Author, Patricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She is the Social Media Manager at US Pharmacopeia, a public standards setting organization. Follow her on Twitter at @predsicker. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Wow Patricia! You always provide such great info – you’ve covered almost everything here! Thank you for the tips and for sharing your expertise on how we can leverage our image posts.

  • http://www.weighttraining.com/ Tyler S.

    Very cool, tons of great stuff in here. Time for me to get my reading on – thank you!

  • predsicker

    Thanks so much for the complement John – and for reading of course!

  • predsicker

    Hi Tyler,

    Thanks so much!

  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Humans are visual beings – which means we rely more on our vision than on any other sense. As such, most of our daily actions are affected by visual stimuli, including reading content.

    This article confirms this and, at a less nerdy level, why Facebook, Twitter and all platforms are moving into a more visual experience (e.g.: enlarged images on Facebook links, Twitter Cards and expanded images, etc…) Really an enjoyable reading.

  • http://charterfish.com TJ Cheek

    Wow. That was thorough. Thank you very much for doing such a great job on this.

  • http://www.sm4hc.com/ Scott Scowcroft

    Patricia, you never disappoint. Thanks for yet another great anthology.

  • http://www.shop.graciousstore.com/ Gracious Store

    It is a million times easier to get people’s attention with visuals than with text. I like slideshare because you can blend visuals and text together, and it is also easily sharable

  • deb1221

    Patricia, Great list of resources and as always a great article. And, thank you for your kind mention.

  • Harmeet

    Patricia, Thanks for the great information. It is extremely rare that you come cross such a comprehensive article.

  • http://twitter.com/jacobmouritzen Jacob Holst Mouritzen

    Great read Patricia! I will be sending this to all of my community managers!

    Almost seems like an encyclopaedia of content creation and community management :) .

    Thank you!

  • predsicker

    Thank YOU for reading TJ!

  • predsicker

    Hey Scott! How are you? You and I should get on another Google+ hangout soon (let me know when). It’s been too long. Thanks for reading my article :)

  • predsicker

    I like SlideShare too :)

  • predsicker

    Thanks Deb – anytime :) – and I’ll miss seeing you at SMMW this year :(

  • predsicker

    Thank you so much Harmeet – glad you like it!

  • predsicker

    Anytime Jacob, and thank you so much for reading my article.

  • predsicker

    Thank you Antonio :)

  • http://www.thecareerbreaksite.com/ Rachel

    Gah, I click on ONE link in an email, thinking ‘I’ll just read this quickly’ and before I know it, I’ve opened all the links in new tabs and my desk is covered in post-its full of ideas and reminders.

    Thanks. :)

  • http://www.sociallysorted.com.au/ Donna Moritz

    Fabulous post Patricia – thanks so much for featuring my podcast interview with Mike and my infographic featured by Pamela on HubSpot. What an awesome wrap! I too have tabs open all over the place ha ha. Awesome list of articles and resources!

  • http://www.campietralunga.com/ Cam Pietralunga

    Awesome article! I’m super-visual so I agree completely.

  • deb1221

    Will miss seeing you and being there!

  • http://ds9hse.blogspot.com/ Vincent Lee

    Being a graphic designer and a visual learner, I appreciate the tips!

  • http://www.sm4hc.com/ Scott Scowcroft

    Patricia, love to. See my private G+ post to you.

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  • http://salsify.com/blog Emily Saka

    Absolutely wonderful toolkit of resources! Thank you for doing the curation work for the rest of us

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