Importance of Visual Content
As you are establishing your social media networks, do not overlook the power of visual content as a method of engaging and connecting with your target audience. In the English language, we have numerous sayings that point to the connection of the visual to our emotions, beliefs, and memory — e.g. A picture is worth a thousand words, Seeing is believing, We don’t remember days, we remember moments (Cesare Pavese). When connecting to your audience, always consider how you can incorporate visual content into your message.
What is Visual Content and How Do I Use It?
Visual content can take many forms. Simply put, it is content that is displayed in a visual way and uses images and sound. The type of visual content you use is dependent on the social media platform. Some content is universally postable across multiple platforms. Whereas, other content will be limited to just one or two types.
When creating visual content it is important to consider three things — 1) the social media platform, 2) the intent of the post on the social media platform, and 3) shareability across different social media platforms. For instance, more established platforms, like Facebook, have more options when it comes to posting and sharing visual content. But newer platforms, such as Snapchat, are often more limited. As newer platforms mature, increased functionality is typical. Take Instagram for example, at first you could only post photos. Now, users have the ability to post short videos.
In the list below of the most common forms of visual content, I identify which social media platforms support the different types of visual content.
Video / Multimedia
Video is rapidly becoming a visual content powerhouse. More and more research is showing that video allows individuals, organizations, and businesses to increase visibility, audience opinions, and enthusiasm of their brands. The flexibility of video allows you to connect with your audience in a variety of ways such as teaching a method or concept, igniting passion about a cause, demonstrating specific techniques, etc. Research shows that ‘How to’ videos are the most commonly searched types of video. Improved video capturing on smart phones and free hosting provided by YouTube, makes this visual content much easier to produce and share across multiple social media platforms. Key platforms to leverage are Facebook, LinkedIn and your personal blog (or a micro-blogging site like Tumblr). Shorter videos can be posted directly from your phone’s camera roll onto Twitter and Instagram.
Since Instagram burst onto the social media scene in 2010, the use of photo quotes has increased significantly. Photo quotes are exactly what the name implies — a photo/picture with a quote on it or the use of decorative fonts to display the quote. Seeking inspiration is innate human trait. Communicating inspiration via a visual format makes it particularly powerful. Creating photo quotes couldn’t be easier. There are numerous phone apps (e.g. Word Swag) dedicated to creating photo quotes. Additionally, you can use pre-created photo quotes (e.g. Brainy Quotes or The Quote Pedia) and web-based editing tools (e.g. Canva) to create your own. You can create them from scratch with decorative fonts installed on your laptop. While predominately used on Instagram, you can post photo quotes to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and your personal blog.
Slideshows are an often overlooked visual content format. Yet, their predominance on the web indicates this format is still worth exploring. If you’ve ever visited a website where you’ve clicked through a series of photos either with or without textual content/explanations, you’ve used a slideshow. This type of visual content is perfect when all you need is an image or photo to show an example. Including short explanatory text with each image, helps you better connect with your audience and provide context for the image. Websites like SlideShare allow you to upload a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation. This then allows you to share across various platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn (owns Slideshare), and Twitter along with embedding on your personal website or a blog post. Check your website’s editing features, you might have a slideshow feature or format. This would allow you to create a blog post that is slideshow. Which, in turn, you can share across Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Infographics started gaining traction about 3-4 years ago. Most commonly infographics are visual representations of statistics or data. However, this increasingly popular visual format is now used in a variety of ways. Infographics are handy when you need to communicate something complex where a video or written text would be too long. Because infographics take time to plan and design, many people choose not to create them. Fortunately, web-based platforms like Canva, Piktochart, or Easel.ly made the creation process much easier. These platforms also make it easy to embed an infographic on your website which in turn allows you to share across social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, or LinkedIn.
PDF Documents (e.g. worksheets, checklists, ebooks, etc.)
Last but not least are PDF documents. If you are creating giveaways or lead magnets such as checklists, how-to worksheets, or ebooks, you are creating visual content. How you design them impacts the visual appeal and impact. Utilize the templates available in your word processor to create quality design. Even Canva has an ebook template. Once you’ve you created the pdf document, you can store it on your website, file storage spaces like Dropbox, or digital publishing platforms like issuu. If you’ve link the document to a lead page, then you can post across most of your social media platforms or use it as part of your paid marketing.
In this blog post, I’ve shared with you the importance of visual content, examples of visual content, and platforms you can post each type of content. Visual content like video, photo quotes, slideshows, infographics, and pdf documents each provide a large array of options when it comes to sharing your message and connecting with your target audience. When just getting started, pick one or two content types and become well versed in how to create and distribute it. I would love to hear from you about how the the power of visuals has affected your audience engagement – post in the comments below.