As technology and the Internet take on bigger roles in our lives, what people love to read, watch, share and promote changes.
People have less time and are expecting (or should I say demanding?) more visual ways of digesting information and sharing it online.
Images and video dominate Facebook and Pinterest, which is probably no surprise. But social media sites that were once text-only, like Twitter, are now visual platforms.
It’s time we adapt to the visual world closing in on us and learn to thrive—instead of withering away in a sea of text. Here’s how:
1. Develop a visual brand.
The first step to becoming a visual superstar is to develop a unique brand.
I know what you are thinking: Branding is only for the big guns.
Branding doesn’t have to be hard. Just pick a couple of colors and fonts you can call your own, and use them relentlessly. Soon your style will become easily recognizable.
Look at some of the people doing this online, like Peg Fitzpatrick, the co-managing partner of 12 Most. She uses the same fonts and a simple pink and gray color combination on her website and all of her visual content. Her blog and social media posts are instantly recognizable.
You need to do this, too.
2. Create a unique logo.
Your logo should use the same colors you chose in No. 1. The font can be different, but it should be similar. The logo should be consistent with your brand and the image you want to convey.
A graphic artist can bring your logo to the next level, but your logo doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Even a simple color, font and shape combination can stand out.
Take a look at Fed Ex. You would recognize its logo anywhere, yet it’s so simple.
3. Use unique images (even free ones).
People often think having amazing images on your website means paying a fortune for stock photography. Actually, the opposite is true. Stock photography is so prevalent that many people are tired of the same old, same old.
Instead of doing what everyone else is doing, you have two simple options:
1. Take your own photos. Take them with your amazing digital camera or iPhone. If you like shooting photos, why not use them on your website?
4. Find what works in your niche.
There are no hard and fast rules as to what kinds of visuals you should use. Every niche is different, and audiences’ expectations vary.
To start, look at what the experts in your field are doing. Follow them on social media and visit their blogs. See what kinds of visuals are working for them. It will be especially obvious on social networks where visuals can make or break your success (like Pinterest), but it applies everywhere. Keep your eyes open.
5. Use tools.
We can’t all be the next Picasso, but don’t let that stop you from creating stunning visuals. In the last few years, amazing tools have popped up that make creating visuals easy.
6. Add visuals to blog posts.
One of the keys to becoming a visual stand-out is to use your visual branding everywhere. It’s critical you brand all of the content on your website.
If you have a text-heavy blog post, at the very least you should have a header image that speaks to your brand. That means imagery that suits your style and includes your fonts and colors. (Take another look at Fitzpatrick’s site in No. 1.)
You can find more examples in this post.
7. Optimize your visuals’ size and shape.
The size and shape of your amazing new visuals will depend on where you want to share them. Vertical images work best on Pinterest, but the opposite is true for Twitter. Bookmark this guide from Sprout Social. It’s always up to date with the latest sizes.
For blog posts, use your main social media channels as guides. If you mostly share on Pinterest, use tall images. If you mostly share on Twitter, use wide ones. Just be consistent.
8. Share your visuals directly on social media.
If you leave the default image loaded on Google+ or only share text posts on Twitter, it’s time to change your sharing habits.
Sometimes images will successfully load on social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn, but you’re likely missing out on better visibility by not directly sharing your visuals when you post to social media.
Upload your blog post image directly to get the visual impact you deserve.
9. Adapt your approach to each social network.
Social media audiences expect different content on each social network. What works on Twitter might not go over well on Instagram. Adapt your visuals to each network and audience.
For example, Facebook is mostly for sharing fun content with friends, but LinkedIn is a professional network. You can’t use a cookie-cutter approach to sharing.
10. Use social media sharing tools.
There are all sorts of visually focused social media tools available. A few include:
- ViralTag: It’s an easy-to-use sharing and scheduling tool.
- Tailwind: It’s great for Pinterest.
- MavSocial: It’s a social media marketing suite with a built-in media repository.
Be on the lookout for tools like these that make it easier to post visual content.
11. Learn and adapt with analytics.
You also need to keep an eye on what’s working.
Of course you can just watch your social media channels and guess, but I recommend using some form of analytics.
The tools you are using might already have analytics in place. If they don’t, find out what tools the people in your network use.
Knowing what your followers share most, when and with who will help you improve your strategy.
12. Use your newfound visual identity offline.
Don’t forget that the offline world is still extremely important and useful in your crusade for visual dominance.
Use your newfound visual power (fonts, colors, logos, etc.) on all your offline material to help you create a complete branded package and get noticed wherever your content goes.
You are now armed with all the tips and tricks you need to gain online visual dominance. Pick a few tactics to start. The impact will astound you.
This article is republished with permission, courtesy of 12 Most.