10 visual elements that social media adores

These bits of eye candy get shared widely and frequently online. Make sure your brand isn’t left on the shelf.

Do you want double your social engagement and see your content shared like crazy?

For small-business people and brand managers everywhere, posting multiple images on social media has been proven to deliver massive traction.

It seems simple, right? If it was so easy, wouldn’t everybody do it?

Like most good things in life, there’s a catch.

When it comes to content creation, many people make this simple mistake: They add more visuals just for the sake of it. This is a basic approach. Smart content marketers create visual content that reach people’s emotions—content with real psychological impact.

If you’re not a graphic designer or artist, don’t freak out. I’m going to walk you through you 10 types of powerful visuals that are easy to create and can double your social media engagement. Let’s get started:

1. High-quality stock photography

Beware: Your fans will smell a cheesy stock photo from a million miles away. Not only will it lead them to discredit your professionalism as a brand, but it also will deter them from wanting to share your post.

On the other hand, high-quality stock photography can do the converse. As well as making your brand seem more credible, high-quality and relevant images help establish your brand’s reputation and boost engagement. If you’re looking for original content, check out this handy article that lists and rates more than 70 free stock photography websites.

Look at this post on Elite Daily’s Facebook page. By using relevant and high-quality stock photography, the band achieves a “wow factor” that immediately tempts the viewer to click through to the blog.

After all, everything your audience shares on social media will reflect on them. You can’t blame them for wanting to look good, and you can choose the right images to make it possible.

2. Screenshots

You’ve probably heard the adage, “Seeing is believing.” When people can see something for themselves, they’re more likely to trust the source. ​

In this Twitter post, Buffer gauges interest around one of its growth experiments by showing two screenshots of an A/B tested email. In doing so, Buffer can immediately impress viewers, which induces them to read on.

The text used to accompany the post is short yet effective—providing a hook for the article but letting the image become the compelling factor. Related: Become a visual content ninja! Join us in Chicago for the Visual Communications and Infographics summit.

3. Infographics

The most basic way to understand why visual content is so effective on social media is to consider that the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. When we’re scrolling through hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of posts, tweets and updates—images are simply easier to digest.

Infographics take this concept to the next level, allowing brands to capture complex pieces of information and turn them into engaging social media posts.

Notice how Charity World Vision has created a Pinterest board dedicated to infographics. By doing so, it’s able to share large chunks of information in a single visual post.

4. Personal photographs

People will find it hard to relate to your business or brand if it doesn’t have a human face.

To convey this personal element in your visual social posts, add snaps of your CEO or management staff. In this example taken from fashion retailer Nastygal’s Instagram, the brand’s CEO Sophia Amoruso is seen at a book signing of her recent book “#GIRLBOSS.”

Not only does this boost interest around the book, it also builds the authenticity of the brand.

5. Behind-the-scenes shots of your workplace

Sneak peeks foster a personal connection with your fans and strengthen their brand loyalty.

This particular type of imagery is more suitable for Instagram and Facebook, which are often considered the more “social” platforms. Designer Jen Gotch does this well on her instagram account by regularly featuring quirky shots of team activities.

These images conveys the notion that team members are “real people”; they even encourage fans to think of Jen as a friend.

6. Quote graphics

A throwback to those motivational posters in your school counselor’s office, a quote graphic is still beloved—and frequently shared. They work well on every social media platform, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

The three things to consider are the quote, the font, and the imagery. Go for a short quote with words that are easily digestible. Consider a font that’s readable on smaller screens, because a lot more people are viewing through mobile devices these days.

Find an image that captures the spirit of the quote without competing with it for attention. The image should serve as a meditation space for the viewer’s mind to go while it’s considering the quote.

7. Original designs

Branding your images is essential in order to build recognition on social media—a goal that should stay at the forefront of your visual content creation.

Also consider that generic images are rehashed again and again, so creating unique content gives you a better chance of becoming memorable.

If you’re designing your own images, create and follow a style guide to ensure brand consistency. This means determining rules for your fonts, color scheme and image personality. You want your brand to be instantly recognizable.

Take a look at how Amanda Fuller, creator of Kaleidoscope Blog, uses a simple yet original design over and over in her posts on Pinterest.

Whenever I see a pin from the Kaleidoscope Blog on Pinterest, I know exactly who it’s from based on this signature design.

8. Images that reflect the essence of your brand

If you want to create images that engage your target audience always consider: What made them choose you over your competitors?

The answer is your unique selling point. By choosing images based around it, you’ll strengthen the foundations of brand loyalty.

Consider Voss Water. Propelled by brand values of purity, distinction and social responsibility, Voss Water visual social media posts always reinforce one (or more) of these ideals.

In the Facebook examples below, you’ll find the distinctive Voss Water bottle featured prominently as anchor branding. Both images convey a sense of nature/natural elements, and the fruit infusions look fresh and healthy, right on target with its branding.

9. Action shots

Stimulate the imagination of your audience with an action or experience shot. Nothing is quite as compelling as a still photo that captures a moment in time.

Charity: Water understood how to engage its audience with this vibrant image of clean water and outreached hands. Without reading, you instantly get the visual: What’s a bigger need than clean water? And what’s a greater joy than having access to it?

Though you might not be providing clean water to those in need, you can still use this type of visual social media post to inspire your followers to feel good about your brand—and about themselves for following you.

Share images of your product or service in its ideal use. There’s a reason why so many beer ads show customers partying at the hottest club or lounging on the beach—that’s the desired experience.

Whatever you’re selling, you want a product shot of your ideal customer actively reaping its benefits.

10. Images with a striking color palette

Colors can depict and elevate mood. Whether you’re looking to compel or commiserate, colors play a huge role in human psychology.

What are the feelings you want to evoke from your social media audience? Try to replicate that feeling with the colors you choose.

Use a color picker tool to extract colors from your favorite images. Before you start designing, limit yourself to four main colors. This will help establish a theme or feeling for your designs and increase their impact.

Now it’s your turn

Adding visual content to your social media strategy is a no-brainer, but using visual content that reaches your fans’ emotions and catches their eyes is the smart marketer’s approach.

Whether you’re creating original content, sourcing photographs or shooting your own, always consider how it will affect your audience.

How do you stand out from your competitors? Do certain types of visual posts work better for you than others?

Anna Guerrero heads up editorial at Canva. A version of this post first appeared on JeffBullas.com.

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