One thing’s for sure, social media has gotten a lot more visual in the past few years. It used to be that social media was mainly text updates, with the occasional photo of someone’s cat or baby or breakfast.
That was before channels like Pinterest and Instagram. In the world of social media today, it’s get visual or get out (and, face it, your business can’t dump social media).
Way back in the 2000s when social media was born (remember MySpace?), creating beautiful visuals required a good camera and Adobe Photoshop, two pricey items that had steep learning curves.
A few years ago, you would have had to hire a professional to create the kind of images we see on social media every day, but two things changed that:
A Camera in Every Pocket
Camera phones went from crappy to impressively good thanks to the smartphone, with the iPhone leading the way (today, companies like Nokia, known for its cameras, sell smartphones with cameras that surpass the newest iPhones).
Just about everyone, even if they own a less expensive phone, has a camera in their pocket at virtually all times.
And, today, they’re good cameras that rival professional SLRs if you know how to use them right, and far surpass the old digital point-and-shoots.
So, while it’s still a good idea to hire a pro for products photos in your store and catalogs, you can take a share-worthy photo of a product, a landscape, or your workspace easily.
The reliance on a high level of technical knowledge required just to take a high quality photo has dropped dramatically.
Simple Graphics Makers
We talk about Canva a lot, but that’s because it’s such an amazing graphics tool that really does allow anyone to create awesome images and even drag-and-drop infographics.
If you haven’t tried using a graphics program in years because they were too complicated, I can’t stress it enough — you can make your own graphics with Canva.
And you don’t even need your own photos, Canva has a large collection of free stock photos and clipart, as well as eye-catching typefaces that don’t even need photos or art to look good.
Plus, they offer lots of tutorials to help you move from a beginner customizing their templates to a designer creating beautiful images from the ground up.
You can easily make a variety of types of graphics for social media yourself, using free tools and/or the devices you already have.
Once you get used to making graphics, you’ll be able to make them quickly — and you’ll need to, because you should be putting something visual on the vast majority of your social media posts.
8 Popular Social Media Graphics Types and How to Create Them
#1 Eye-catching Photography
Between Pinterest and Instagram, the bar for social media photography went way up as the difficulty level (thanks to smartphones) went way down.
There’s a bit more to it than point and shoot – cropping, editing, and filters all give social media photos a professional look. If your smartphone photos look blah, a smartphone photography tutorial can help.
Stock photos are also a good choice, and there are many resources for free stock photos online. Also, did you know that you can use some photos from Flickr for your blog?
Just be sure to select “Creative Commons License” in the advanced search. Photos with this license may be used with credit for free as long as it’s not Commercial use (you can’t print the photo on a t-shirt and sell it, for example).
Screenshots are especially useful for tutorials and blog posts. Most computers have a screenshot keyboard command, but the best way to create screenshots is with a tool like Clipular, which allows you to select exactly what you want to capture and save it in one step.
The best thing about Clipular is that, once you’ve made your screencaptures, they’re saved automatically to your online clipboard, where you can share them, upload to your blog via URL, or download them as needed.
Want to convey a lot of information in a compact package that people want to look at? Infographics are the way to go.
They’re especially popular on the highly visual Pinterest when people want to share information in a visual format.
Canva’s infographic maker allows users to select a style, drag and drop their own (or stock) images, and enter their own information to make impressive infographics that will get shared and reshared.
Infographics are great for sharing statistical information in a comparative way (such as a map with colors to represent the number of [whatever you choose] in each country).
Where do you find statstical information? A good place to startfor Interntional statisctics is UNdata, the database of data from the United Nations.
Memes are an ingrained part of internet culture that are both comfortably familiar and brand new. At least they should be — memes wear out after a while.
They catch on, they’re parodied (literally memed), they die out as a new one becomes big. Be careful with memes.
If you post a stale one, you’ll look hopelessly out-of-touch, especially if you have a young demographic. If you see a funny and relatable meme that fits with your industry, share it.
Or, if you want to be a trend-setter, make your own at Memes.com.
Who doesn’t pause to read the funnies? You can find relevant comic strips, vintage cartoons, and editorial cartoons that you can share with a click on Comics Kingdom.
The best comics to share on small business social media are the ones that are relatable and can be applied to most people’s professions (Dilbert, for example, is relatable to just about anyone who has every worked in an office, regardless of industry).
Hard-hitting political cartoons can alienate followers and are best left to your personal social media accounts.
#6 Text Graphics
Whether it’s a famous quote, a tip, or a motivational saying, sometimes all you need is text in a visual graphic. The trick is to use stylish typefaces laid out attractively. Again, you can’t beat Canva for simple text graphics.
To find quotes, use a tool like BrainyQuotes, which allows you to search for relevant quotes and sayings by keyword. Try to use quotes that are less commonly used.
Popular quotes are popular because people like them, but posting a quote everyone has seen shared on social media multiple times makes you look unoriginal.
#7 Graphs and Charts
A great way to visualize information is to convert it into a chart, whether it’s a line graph, a pie chart, or a bar graph.
Graphs and charts are very simple to make, and they add a lot to informational social media posts. You can create your own charts online with ChartGo.
The charts that people respond to the most are the ones that offer surprising or extreme information, such as “[this trend] has increased by 90% over the last six months.”
People also like charts that show that a lot of people agree with them (of course, those of the minority viewpoint might not like it quite so much, so always consider if the information you’re sharing can be deemed controversial).
Videos embed automatically on Facebook and Twitter, and even autoplay without sound to draw people’s attention and encourage them to unmute.
Like photos, you can take good video on almost any smartphone today, so you don’t need a video camera setup.
Make short videos for Youtube, which automatically embed on almost any platform by simply pasting the URL; microvideos on Vine (challenge youself to give your followers a quick tip in six seconds or less); or broadcast live via Periscope.
Video is a great way to do tutorials, product testing, and mini-seminars. When creating a video, try and use the most neutral backdrop you can find.
If your workspace lacks a blank wall to shoot in front of, hang a sheet as a backdrop.
Social media graphics increase your number of shares, your follower count, and your overall reach.
Allow yourself a certain amount of time each week to devote to graphics — you will start to see a difference right away, especially if you haven’t used graphics on social media much before.
What are your favorite ways to make you social media a more visual experience? Let us know in the comments!
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