Long gone are the days when simply posting a text update on social media was enough to get you noticed.
Now, you have to include stunning images or interesting graphics to earn a high level of engagement from your audience.
That means that developing a visual marketing plan is more relevant than ever before.
To make the process simpler for your team, we’ve put together this guide with the importance of visual content in social media.
We explain what makes it so effective, and our best tips for finding and using the right kinds of visual content.
Are you ready to get started? Let’s go.
Does Visual Content Really Matter?
When discussing the importance of visual aids in the process of content marketing, a lot of people wonder if it really even matters.
The truth? Very much so.
Scientists have proved that visual images get to the brain a whopping 60,000 times faster than text.
While we don’t know exactly why this is the case, it likely has something to do with the way our minds process language in written form.
After all, you can just see an image and understand what it means, versus having to read text and convert it to a thought in your mind.
This is why incorporating visual elements into your digital advertising and social media marketing is so important for success.
When your audience can see an accompanying photo with your content, they’re much more likely to quickly respond or take action before moving on to something else.
Adding images to your social media posts is a must-do if you’re looking for better overall engagement and response.
Why is Visual Content Effective?
We’ve already discussed the biological reason why visual content is super effective on social media, but let’s dive into a few more practical reasons — which ultimately comes down to a saturated marketplace.
Your followers and target audience are inundated with digital noise on a daily basis.
Each time they log into their favorite platforms, they’ve got millions of pieces of content to look at within a split second.
That’s a lot of competition for your posts, right?
But if all you’re posting is just text without some sort of visual element, you’re bound to get overlooked in favor of a video or cool image.
And your competitors know this. That’s why you need a great visual strategy to stay competitive and grow your brand.
However, that isn’t the only reason to adopt this sort of content marketing approach.
Images help increase the effectiveness of data visualization.
Memes and cartoons offer a lighthearted approach to a serious topic. Product photos make it easier to decide to purchase a product.
And those are just short examples of how different types of media can elicit a positive response from your target customers.
Simply put, visual content catches your customer’s attention and makes it more likely they’ll make a purchase or share the information with others.
How Has Social Media Changed in the Last Two Decades?
Much like different elements of society, social media is constantly evolving.
As platforms upgrade to new-and-improved formats, change algorithms, and consistently work to achieve a better experience for users, the way we all consume digital information on these websites and apps does, too.
For example, just under twenty years ago, it was nothing for someone to have a MySpace profile or a Livejournal blog.
Then came along Facebook and Twitter, which made interacting in this kind of format more mainstream.
Eventually, we added Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube — all highly visual social media platforms that hinge on photos and video.
Now? The process of live streaming through apps like TikTok and Twitch is becoming even more popular.
This means the original mainstream platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest are finding ways to help people make the leap from photos to video.
As you can tell, the entire industry is shifting into a place where this type of content is going to be vital for companies who want to gain a digital presence.
Why is this happening?
To start, technology has improved dramatically in the last two decades.
Smartphone cameras are just as good as some full-size digital formats, making it quick and easy to create videos and edit digital images on the go.
What’s even more fascinating is that some of these social media websites are leaning towards taking their tech capabilities further by adding virtual reality, like Facebook’s Oculus or YouTube’s VR.
Can you imagine a time in the future where creating content for your target audience literally means building a world to enjoy interactively?
We just might be heading in that direction based on past trends, which is why adopting a visual strategy now is so crucial for digital marketers.
What Types of Visual Content Are Popular These Days?
Now that visual content is certainly the norm when it comes to building a social media audience, let’s look at a few of the most popular types.
When it comes to visual content, videos are now an integral part of getting your audience to interact with your brand.
But don’t feel like this has to be polished, either.
Sometimes just a sneak peek into operations or happenings around your office is enough to gain attention on social media.
There’s something about watching live video that gets audiences all excited.
After all, television news channels and reality shows have been betting on this format for years.
Using Facebook, Instagram, or even Twitch to live stream is a great way to give your followers a peek into what your company does.
It can also be handy for educational question sessions, showing off new products at launch, and so much more.
Interactive content that requires the viewer to make a decision or take an action is always a great way to increase engagement.
Quizzes are especially popular, even in an eCommerce setting.
For example, you could encourage a customer to answer questions to help them find their favorite flavor, color, or design from a list in your inventory.
Adding to this list of popular visual content types are bite-size videos.
What we mean by this is those visuals that are under a minute long that offer some sort of entertainment or educational value.
TikTok and Instagram Stories are good examples of how this can be used to create content your audience resonates with.
Maps & Charts
Sometimes the content itself is rather dry — especially in a B2B setting.
However, that doesn’t mean you should skip utilizing visual content as a way to improve your social media pages.
Even LinkedIn is a good place to share maps, charts, or other similar visuals to help zero in on a specific point you’re making with your post or the data you’re explaining.
Memes & GIFs
Of course, the world could always use a good laugh.
They say humor is what unites all of us, which is why memes and GIFs have become very popular on social media.
These little animated images or still clips are a great way to add personalization, expression, and even a dose of humor, too.
How to Effectively Choose Your Visual Content
Of course, choosing the right visual content to use for your social media pages matters, as well.
You don’t want to just put up any old image and claim it as your own.
Likewise, you want to ensure your visuals match your unique brand voice, color scheme, and style.
Here are a few additional tips to consider:
When it comes to selecting visual content for your social media pages, don’t forget to include diversity.
This means getting a variety of images of people from all different racial, ethnic, gender, and social backgrounds.
Many big brands have found out the importance of this the hard way in the last few years, which is why your company will want to be especially careful in selecting a diverse set of individuals for various photos.
Think About What You’re Posting
Have you ever seen a company post on social media and think that their marketing team didn’t really put forth thought before sharing?
Don’t be that company.
Instead, brainstorm all the different ways your target market could react to what you’re about to add to your social media pages.
Double-check to ensure you’re not making factual mistakes or adding anything that could be deemed highly controversial.
Stick with Your Brand Aesthetic
In case you didn’t know, your brand aesthetic is the colors, fonts, and style of the digital media your company publishes.
It is incredibly important to ensure customers know exactly who you are the moment they see your content on any channel.
To make this easier, have a brand guide within your company’s internal files that allows all team members to use the same options when creating visual content.
Plan for Upcoming Events
When choosing visual content to add to social media, make sure you’re planning for upcoming events.
Holidays, product launches, big happenings, and more all make good reasons to publish additional visual content on your company’s social media profiles.
Where Exactly Should You Search for Visual Content?
So, now that you know the importance of visual content and the different types that are popular, let’s look at how to find it.
Of course, you don’t want to rip off other websites by using their images and/or graphics.
This is simply bad practice and could even lead to a costly copyright lawsuit in the future.
Instead, always search for those that offer rights for sharing or ask the permission of the owner, first.
You can also hire the process out to a freelance graphic designer or other agency.
In fact, Rock Content’s Visually can help you create stunning interactive content that really gets your brand noticed.
What if you need a quick image? Even text on a pretty background made in the Canva app is suitable.
Again, you want at least one visual element to go along with your message to ensure you’re getting the attention of your audience.
Finally, consider taking images and videos yourself.
Most smartphones these days have great cameras and there are tons of free apps there to do a little visual editing in minutes.
If you’re in a specific niche where finding stock imagery isn’t an option, this is an especially great idea.
Wrap Up: The Importance of Visual Content in Social Media
These days, companies simply cannot rely on textual posts to receive tons of traction on social media.
Having visuals like videos, maps, charts, or photos is the only way to get people talking about the information you’re sharing and encourage them to take action.
Of course, if you’re looking for more tips on how to do this, Rock Content’s Interactive Marketing Guide is a great place to start.
You’ll learn tips, tricks, and the best ways to get your posts noticed on social media and across the internet.