If a picture is worth a thousand words, a social media graphic is worth 40 times that—research shows that visual content is up to 40 times more likely to be shared on social media over other types of content.
With some prior strategic planning, strong visual content can become a regular part of your brand’s social media footprint, which will help cultivate an integrated brand voice that will more deeply connect with customers and clients alike.
Here are five ways to create social media graphics that will engage your audience and beg to be shared.
Make sure it fits
While a photo may stand on its own well, when it’s posted to a social media site, it can look totally different. It’s important to consider your social media channel and resize the image as necessary so your graphic isn’t cut off or cropped in an unappealing way.
Bear in mind that social media sites all have different size requirements—Instagram photos are square, Pinterest and Google+ use portrait-style pictures and Facebook and Twitter images are best when they’re landscape. Beyond simply making sure the picture fits, consider the pixel size as well, so your graphics don’t look grainy or blurred.
Create a cohesive style
While it’s always nice to utilize the corporate colors of a brand as much as possible, don’t go overboard—your audience wants to see varied images as well as brand continuity. Bear in mind that the human brain processes and retains visuals up to 60,000 times faster than text—so a potential customer scrolling past a post should be able to get the gist of your brand from an image alone without necessarily reading an entire post.
And cohesive style isn’t only about the colors used: Make sure the graphics are all in tune with the brand voice, communicating values and evoking feelings that your brand stands for. Think about how the photo will look on your Instagram profile, or in a lineup of Facebook photos. There should be a visual sense brand continuity.
Nix the text
Simply put, graphics that are text-heavy just don’t perform well—too many words can get overwhelming for people to digest. Let the colors, shapes and textures present in the picture do the communication for you, and when designing graphics, place whatever minimal copy you need to include into empty copy space. This will make a more readable, easily digestible and shareable graphic.
Showcase data through infographics
Infographics are a wonderful way to engage an audience in substantial material (often data-heavy or statistic-driven) without forcing them to read a thesis to derive the same information. A good infographic creates a visual narrative that reflects a brand’s mission, voice and culture. Using company or brand colors in the infographic makes it that much easier to become an important component to your visual assets.
Studies have found that colored visuals such as infographics increase people’s willingness to read content by 80%—and as for the longevity of the data, when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of what is said, compared to a 65% retention rate if a relevant photo is included with the same information.
Ensure that infographics show up in a mobile-friendly format across multiple platforms—more than 80% of adults worldwide own a smartphone, and 50% own a tablet. It’s more important than ever that all visual content is adapted for mobile devices; Facebook estimates that more than 65% of its videos are viewed on mobile. And if that isn’t compelling enough on its own, research has shown that infographics can boost shares by 300% over a standard blog post.
Don’t be afraid of multimedia
Video adds a compelling component to any social media channel, and provides a change of pace from stationary images. GIFs perform very well on Twitter, and short videos (30 seconds or less) are great for Instagram. On Facebook and LinkedIn, you can post videos that are slightly longer, while linking to an article. Multimedia is likely to catch the eye of frequent scrollers, and should be colorful and on-brand as well.
Visual content is a no-brainer for savvy PR pros who want to increase the reach of their content on behalf of their clients. Keep your messaging colorful, consistent and clear, and you’ll be well on your way to winning the social media game.
Jamie Izaks is the president and co-founder of All Points Public Relations, a Chicago-area integrated public relations, social media and content marketing agency focusing on the franchising industry. He also co-founded the Northern Illinois Franchise Association.