Sharing pictures has been a part of social media since its inception, but in the past year there’s been a distinct shift: visual images are a central part of the message now. Whether it’s the latest meme, an inspiring quote, a “how to” photo montage, or an infographic, visual images are taking center stage in how we communicate with each other online.
Not only are Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ all shifting their formats to make images more central to the user’s experience, but the two fastest growing social media networks – Pinterest and Instagram – both put pictures, not text, front and center. The message is clear: If you’re trying to get content out and you’re not thinking about the visual aspect, you’re leaving out a critical component.
So how do you adapt? Ekaterina Walter’s recent piece in Fast Company talks about how some are responding. Here’s my top tips on how to get more visual:
It’s Not An Afterthought – Think about how you’re going to express yourself visually as an integral part of your message. Make sure the image you’re using is directly relevant to the central point you’re trying to get across.
Don’t Forget Humor – When appropriate, taking the funny approach can score big points. Use http://memegenerator.net/ for quick and easy access to a range of current meme themes.
Make it Easy – Make it easy for people to pin or otherwise share your images. Don’t upload a huge image and then rely on the code or a 3rd party tool to resize it for you – take the extra minute or two to right-size your graphic before uploading it.
Get Right With Rights – Not everyone is a gifted visual creator and/or has access to a graphics team to create images for you. Luckily, there’s a lot of great visual content on the web that you can use. Even if you’re budget challenged, there’s good, free content options out there. Flickr, for example, allows you to only search for images that have Creative Commons licenses (http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/). However, make sure that you’re only using content that’s appropriately licensed, and always give credit where credit is due when you use other people’s images.
Finally, as with all good things, remember that quality beats quantity. A crappy graphic thrown in to increase your Facebook Edgerank is worse than no graphic at all, because it won’t generate the positive responses and interactions you’re looking for.
It’s never been more true that a picture is worth a thousand words. So go ahead, get visual! It’s not just good for your content, it’s also more fun.