Visual Social Media: How Images Improve Your Social Media Marketing

Do you use visuals in your social media marketing?

Are you wondering how you can use images to take your marketing to a whole new level?

To learn about visual social media, I interview Donna Moritz for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner

The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Donna Moritz, who is a social media and visual marketing expert. She’s also the founder of Socially Sorted, a blog designed to help small businesses achieve more with visual social media.

Donna shares the importance of visuals in your social media marketing.

You’ll discover the types of images that work best and the tools you can use to create them.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

Listen Now

You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher or Blackberry.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Visual Social Media

What is visual social media marketing?

Donna sees it as the use of some kind of imagery to communicate visually. You can use images or video to tell a story or share a message. This has been done in marketing for years.

As humans, it’s in our nature to communicate visually. Images process quickly and people are drawn to them.

Listen to the show to find out why visual marketing has merged with social media.

Why do visuals matter so much?

Donna explains how most people started out with a blog, where they would write in long form and build a community around it. Then along came Facebook, where posts became shorter and then Twitter burst onto the scene with a 140-character limit.

People have moved from blogs to microblogs and now to multimedia microblogs. The only direction to go is to communicate with pictures. With Instagram and Pinterest, you can communicate purely with images. Sometimes words aren’t even necessary.

newspaper rock

People have always communicated visually—from as far back as painting pictures on walls in caves. Image source: iStockPhoto

Images have become even more popular with the ability to take photos and video with the camera on a smartphone.

Detavio Samuels, who owns the marketing business Global Hue, said, “The only thing shorter than a tweet or a post is a picture.”

Listen to the show to find out why all platforms are becoming image-centric.

Image options for marketers

Donna explains how you can use images in different ways in your marketing.

You can make a short, snappy video; use images and graphics; slides or a SlideShare presentation; infographics and text-based images.

You’ll find out which one from the list below Donna discovered gets the most shares and responses.

  • Tips
  • How-to
  • Quotes
  • Checklists
  • Infographics

Jay Baer talks about being inherently useful in his book Youtility. If you want your image to be shared a lot, then you have to make sure it’s helpful to your target audience.

the shift to visual social media

For highly shareable content, make sure it’s valuable to your target audience.

You have to remember that as humans, we connect emotionally to images more than video, audio or text. People make decisions and take action quicker when prompted by images, rather than by reading a lot of text.

You’ll find out how you can use how-to images for your business and why it’s easier than you think.

Another great option is to tease people with a graphic. You don’t have to provide the whole procedure; instead add a call to action to get people to click through to your blog, Facebook page or Pinterest page.

On Facebook, you want to build engagement, so the image should be one that people will share, rather than click through to your blog. If you are clever, you can get some really great results.

stonehenge angry birds

This image was designed so the Social Media Examiner community would react to it. People went crazy for it.

Listen to the show to learn why people feel compelled to click on an image, like it, share it, repost it or save it.

The elements of good visuals and what makes them sharable

Donna says that with any piece of content, you have to think about what you want it to do and where you want people to go.

A great place to start is with content that helps and inspires people. For a more shareable factor, you can make it timely content to coincide with breaking news, a celebration or an event.

Donna talks about when she worked with the team at Know Your Midwife, a private midwifery practice in Australia. They have about 1700 followers on Facebook.

They started to post images consistently that were shareable and relevant to their community. A lot of the images included quotes about natural birth and empowered birthing.

know your midwife on facebook

Know Your Midwife post consistently on Facebook.

You’ll hear about the people who started to share these images, and why it isn’t just people in their community who look to them for content to share.

When it was International Midwives’ Day, Donna quickly made up an image with a quote using PicMonkey. They had 1400 shares by the end of the day.

international midwives day

The image was more shareable in this case because sometimes people like to share images that look like their own on Facebook.

You’ll hear the business benefits of using these types of images, and why it’s becoming increasingly important with the new Facebook news feed ranking algorithm.

Donna believes that Facebook is like Pinterest, in that 80% of content is shared content and 20% is original content.

When you merge the power of imagery with original content, then it gets shared a lot. If you can create some of your own original content, you’ve got more chance of it being shared, versus having to share everybody else’s. It’s very powerful.

Another great example is a business owned by Caz and Craig Makepeace called yTravel Blog. It’s one of the biggest travel blogs in the world. They have 4.35 million followers on Pinterest.

They have seen a 3- to 5-fold increase in traffic from Facebook to their blog, just from posting images with the overlay of a tip or a quote.

travel truth bomb

They saw an increase in traffic from Facebook to their blog, when they posted this type of image.

Templates were designed, so that text can be easily added.

ytravelblog travel tips

This template was designed so that the owners can overlay the text themselves.

Listen to the show to find out why scheduling your images is so important, and the tools you can use to accomplish it.

How to get started and the tools to use

Donna says that although she isn’t a graphic designer, she does do a lot of the images herself.

One of the first tools she discovered is PicMonkey. It’s an image-editing tool that doubles as an image-creation tool. Donna says that it’s very intuitive and there are a lot of templates to choose from.

picmonkey home page

PicMonkey is really easy to use.

The other tool that Donna loves is Canva. You can now get your account and username very quickly. They are unique in that they have made graphic design very accessible to everyone.

They also have a stock library of one million photos that you can access and some amazing social media templates. Donna says that some of the updates that are due out from Canva will blow people’s minds.

You’ll hear how you can use screenshots with tools such as Snagit and Jing.

If you have a lot of images that explain information, then the best type of image to use is an infographic. It’s a great way to help someone understand your message, story or concept.

Donna and her team have done a lot of infographics for her business and for clients. You’ll hear different ways you can use infographics in your business, and the sizes that work best for Facebook, Pinterest and blogs.

superpowers of a knockout infographic

In this article, Donna goes through the different elements of an infographic.

Donna recommends that you don’t just put your infographic on Pinterest. If you have something more to say about it, then embed it in one of your blog posts. It’s a fantastic way to get extra mileage out of it.

Listen to the show to discover the other tools that Donna uses to create infographics.

Discovery of the Week

I was recently in Las Vegas with Joel Comm, where he introduced me to a really cool app called Hang With. It’s an app for your iPhone or Android that allows you to do live streaming with the push of a button directly to your Facebook page or directly to other people who have the app.

It’s a live broadcast and when the broadcast has finished, the video is then available on YouTube.

Joel decided to do a quick 2-minute video of us at a buffet in the hotel. Everything was done seamlessly for him.

I think it’s a really cool app, although I haven’t used it myself yet. Maybe it’s the direction we are heading with photography and video—the idea of a live component.

Be sure to check it out.

Call in and leave your social media–related questions for us and we may include them in a future show.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how this works for you.

Other Show Mentions

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Social Media Marketing World.

SMMW logoSocial Media Marketing World 2014 is our physical mega-conference, which is set to return to San Diego, California on March 26, 27 and 28.

The conference features more than 80 sessions in four major tracks: social tactics, social strategy, community management and content marketing. These sessions are taught my leading experts in the world of social media marketing and content creation.

A small sampling of some of the speakers includes Ekaterina Walter (visual marketing), Ted Rubin (social relationship-building), Larry Benet (networking), Martin Shervington (Google+) and Lou Mongello (podcasting).

We are so excited about this conference! Make sure you check out our hashtag #smmw14.

The conference is heading toward a sellout. Be sure to check it out.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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Ways to subscribe to the Social Media Marketing podcast:

What do you think? What are your thoughts on visual social media? Please leave your comments below.

Image from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Michael Stelzner

Michael Stelzner is the founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner, founder of My Kids' Adventures and author of the books Launch and Writing White Papers. He's also the host of the Social Media Marketing podcast. Other posts by »




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  • treb072410

    Great post Michael! I really had a great read, it was very informative.. Thanks for sharing!..

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you enjoyed it :)

  • treb072410

    Sure did Michael.. Hope to read more from you..

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

    That’s great to hear! Thanks for the feedback and I hope you have some fun creating visual content!

  • http://www.irespectonline.com/ Fiona Lucas

    Awesome post – you have a great way with words and interview technique. I love Donna – she is fresh fun and so intuitive. I can’t wait to be at #SMMW14 yeah!

  • Marianne Rom

    Absolutely brilliant podcast Michael. Donna gives plenty of golden nuggets for anyone wishing to enhance their presence using visual content. I am a huge fan of PicMonkey, Canva and Piktochart and can vouch for their ease of use. Thanks so much and it’s so fabulous I’ve already shared with my network… Cheers, Mel Rom, Social Ediquette

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you found it helpful Mel!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Fiona – Donna is great

  • Casey Lightbody

    Great post. In this day of agile marketing and being able to respond quickly to news, etc, Picmonkey and Canva make it so easy to create images on the fly. Love them. I love Donna’s style too – she’s original, fun and such a whizz at visual marketing!

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Nice post!

    Thanks for the tip about the Hang With and Over apps for your iPhone and Android. I’ll try them.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you enjoyed it Casey!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you found it helpful Amanda

  • http://www.yTravelBlog.com/ yTravelBlog

    Donna always gives outstanding content. Her course has been a total standout for us, hence the above images that have really improved our facebook reach and visits to our blog–at a time when facebook visibility of posts is going down for everyone. She’s super awesome.

    Thanks so much for the mention of us on the blog and podcast and what we do. Loved listening to it!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Sweet, good to know is that good

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

    Wow Fiona, thanks, I like that description – that’s my new motto for SMMW14 – Fresh and Fun ha ha – life is too short for jet lag! Glad you loved it and yes Mike does have a wonderful interview technique and is the ultimate gentleman!

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

    Awesome Mel – glad to hear you still found it useful given that you are already playing with these tools… and remember – if you are creating, then get busy with it and batch your images just like you do your posts and boom… visual content becomes much easier and takes a lot less time than you think. Thanks thanks so much for sharing!

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

    Cheers Amandah – and if you get the Over app, then be sure to also follow them on Instagram – their images are just divine, a feast for the senses and help you to realise just how much you can achieve with an iphone and a great overlay. Let me know how you go with it and be sure to say hi on instagram – I am /donnamoritz.

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

    Thanks Casey – love that all the Aussies are up early listening to this! You are SO right – I think that the tools have made it so much easier for us to make a really cool “breaking news” or timely image that can instantly get pick up on the newsfeeds of any platform. Previously the vast majority of us were forced to rely on getting a designer to do it and then the moment has passed. Now with so many great templates you can have one done in a minute! GREAT point. Thanks!

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Thanks Donna!

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

    Thank you so much! I get excited watching you guys get excited about the results you are getting – and I am so glad I am getting to share you with a wider audience – you are doing so well with your blog being one of the best in the world, and a highly regarded travel blog but you are both a great example of how to build communities the right way – now that you are adding an awesome image strategy to the mix, it is going to be even more fun to watch! Love it! Have a great day wherever you are “travelling” today! PS and you are right – if you get the mix right, you CAN hack the Facebook reach.. and because you guys don’t have all your eggs in the Facebook basket it works everywhere else too!

  • http://www.digitalsence.com/ David Udy

    Thanks for the show Michael. Loved hearing from Donna (and great to hear an Aussie on your show). Looking forward to getting my images up to scratch.

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

    Thanks David – I am so glad you enjoyed it! And don’t worry about perfection with images – the tools are great for helping you out with that part and sometimes the simplest image (even a text-based image) can get shared well and drive traffic! Have fun with it!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you enjoyed the show David

  • Shelia

    Excellent episode! I can’t wait to apply many of these tips and to check out Hang With and Canva.

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

    Hi Shelia – thanks so much and I have downloaded Hang With too – can’t wait to try it out. Micro live video streaming. My mind boggles! So glad you enjoyed the podcast!

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

    Good reading. There’s a lot of science in all this: we humans are visual animals, relying on vision for “survival”. So the more visual the content – and the more appealing this is – the more likely users will pay attention and interact.

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

    I didn’t know Picmonkey, so thank you for the tip. Will give it a go now…

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

    That’s something I love about this site: when you thought you knew a lot about apps, Social Media, etc… they always surprise you with new amazing tools!

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

    We ARE visual animals…You are so right Antonio! That’s a great point – I think in some ways visuals help us to sort through the overwhelm of content coming from all directions these days, and to make quick decisions about what we will and won’t engage with. I love that survival analogy, and it is about catching their attention in order to get engagement! Thanks for your insight!

  • Luke Morf

    Awesome post!! A lot of great information to take away from this – especially picmonkey (what a great tool).

    Thanks for sharing

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

    No problems Luke – I use Picmonkey and Canva – they are both worth having in your arsenal! Not sure if you are a Dr Who Fan but I consider them my “Tardis Tools” – once you are inside either (like the Tardis Telephone Box/Time Machine) there is so much more to it than you realise! Have fun creating! Thanks for your comment.

  • Zach

    Donna, seriously you’re so mean! You didn’t preface this by saying that if I started using Canva I would lose 2-3 hours of the day in the blink of an eye lol! Some seriously awesome content and I already have a folder of 12 images to sprinkle on to my fb page over the next couple of weeks!

    I even plan to enhance the results of this by creating sponsored posts out of my images, what are your thoughts on that?

    Thanks for the amazing tips and tools,

    Zach

  • Jeremy Swinfen Green

    What I like about this post is that it shows how the effectiveness of text is enhanced by placing it within an image.

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

    Ha ha ha Zach – too funny! I thought I did mention it somewhere in there so sorry if we sent you down the vortex! – I always tell my clients and readers that they may go into a Canva Vortex and to set a timer… so I owe you a drink (or maybe the Canva team do!). Let me know what you create for sure – I am always looking for good examples. Re sponsored posts – would they be on your blog? I’m intrigued – we have definitely done some great things for images cross promoting blogs and guests on podcasts etc, so anything is possible with a good image. Tweet me at @sociallysorted:disqus or let me know what your FB link is as I would love to check out what you create! Thanks for your feedback (even if you are still recovering from some stellar Canva time!).

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

    Awesome Jeremy – I am glad you took that away from the interview, as I think that text-based images are winners! If you can get a great balance between an awesome image and just enough text to help the person “get it” quickly then it helps you to (a) get noticed and (b) encourage engagement. Have fun playing with it!

  • http://www.praverb.net/ Praverb

    Overgram is free. Over is not. Great podcast once again.

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

    Great point – Overgram is definitely a great option for people to get started with text overlays. A lot of people end up upgrading because they love it but it it has some good fonts on it from the Over team. So glad you loved the podcast episode!

  • http://www.callboxinc.com/ Belinda Summers

    This is another way of luring visitors into our websites and increasing the chances of our blog to get pinned. This is something to take note of. Thanks for Michael. Love to hear more of your tips. :)

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

    Thanks Belinda – and great point – the traffic that goes away from your site, in terms of what imagery you have ready for people to easy share/pin is just as important as the traffic coming to your website. We need to be constantly thinking about how we are, as you say, luring visitors to our sites, but then also thinking about how we are entertaining them while they are there with great content and then giving them something great to take away – in the form of images that can be shared!

  • http://www.callboxinc.com/ Belinda Summers

    Yes that’s correct. When it comes to content we have to make sure that we make real entertaining so that’s where content variations comes in. I incorporate infographics and slideshares in my blogs. It’s one way of keeping visitors coming back to your website and becoming your regular audience.

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  • farzaneh

    thanks Michael:) it was useful and wonderful post for my research, however it was exactly what i want!:) sorry if i have mistake in my post im not really good in english:)

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Belinda!

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

    thanks Farzaneh – that’s great to hear. Glad it was useful for your research an helpful to you!

  • Nicky Kriel

    Very inspired now to go out and create images! Great interview.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Nicky and glad you enjoyed it

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  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/industry-experience/telecommunications.html Barbara Hoover

    Interesting Article here Michael! Infographics and other visual images can be a great key to convince and surprise your viewer about your thought in that specific image. Thanks again!

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

    Thanks Barbara – glad you enjoyed it!

  • Kara Johanson

    This is such a very interesting article Michael. I learned something new today. Thanks. Social media marketing can be improved by harnessing the power of eye-catching visuals across several social media platforms.







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