Compared to 10 years ago, when social media was still in its infancy, how we use it has changed dramatically. Back then, we only knew about Facebook, and as a platform, it was used in a much simpler, more personal way – we didn’t utilise it for business until more recently.
Looking at how things are today, we have a much more diverse landscape. There are several additional players, including Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Pinterest – and within those, there are several ways to communicate, with things like Stories being rolled out to almost every major social channel.
Over the years, social media platforms have become much more visual. As we scroll through our various social feeds, we will likely see less text and more images. Marketers have realised that having well-placed images on their social feeds helps to increase engagement – particularly now that most of us are using our phones.
In response to this, many new developments in online tech have allowed the average user to find their own images and even create their own. Apps like Canva are becoming the go-to for creating images and infographics that can be used on all social media platforms. There are plenty of websites where you can purchase stock images for content marketing.
I’ll get back to some of these a bit later. Still, I wanted to touch upon some of the ways we can use graphics in social media, some trends and fresh techniques, and the differences in using online tools versus having custom images created by a designer.
Why are images important for social media posts?
We process images much more quickly than words, so when we’re scrolling through our social channels, we’ll naturally pause when we see something stimulating our senses. Pictures, in particular colours, can convey messages to us on a different level.
In saying that, because there are so many images to process online, we need to plan what we post with care and attention. Finding that key element will not only stand out enough to make the viewer stop scrolling to take a closer look but allow them to instantly recognise you through that imagery. That will help create that ‘know, like, trust factor which is so important on social media.
Planning your social media images
It used to be adequate for us to take a snap and post it to our social media platforms when we felt like it. That’s no longer the case. If we want to get noticed online, we have a lot of competition; therefore, we need to plan out what we share and how we share it.
Social images, and social content as a whole, should fall into common categories, namely;
Think about how you want the viewer to react when they see the image. Do you want them to take a particular action, like clicking through to your website or blog post? Does it serve to give them a piece of information or news about your business? Does it help them in some way or encourage them to open a conversation with you?
There’s a huge trend, especially on Instagram, which is all about imagery. There will be some images that you might feel don’t fit into any of those categories – but if you’ve set them up correctly, then at the very least, they will serve as a recognition piece. Having a recognisable ‘pattern’ to the grid, and even a brand overlay, ensures that the brand has its own ‘look’, therefore being recognised by the viewer.
Suppose you can tie the overall look of your social images with other mediums, like your website and printed material. In that case, this will all work together as part of your branding, an important factor for content creation.
Stock Images or Professional Graphic Designer?
I get that many businesses want to have the ability to take ownership of how they post on social media, and part of that is being able to either use stock images or create images of their own. And there’s nothing wrong with that – if you have a clear idea and strategy in place.
The trouble is, many people don’t, and if you’re not careful, you could end up with a scatter-gun approach across your content marketing, which can be off-putting for your audience.
It all comes down to branding – and you must get it right across the board. It’s likely that you’ve paid someone to create your website, and tie all of your branding together, so don’t allow your social media to let it all down.
Yes, perhaps having a graphic designer on-call to create images every time you want to upload to your social media channels is overkill, but if you can get a set of templates, overlays, and brand colours set up and on hand, at least then you’ll have something to work with.
If you decide to use stock images (or take your own photographs), at least have some kind of consistency which will let your viewers know they are your images.
Get in touch if you’d like help or advice about anything you’ve read in this article. We’d be happy to help.