You shouldn’t need anyone to convince you that image posts on social media are really, really valuable.
That’s kind of a given by now. (There’s a reason that in this 2014 study of more than 1.2 million Facebook posts, 75% of the updates were photos.)
Images are eye-catching. They stand out – even when you’re idly scrolling through your feed without reading every update, an image will catch your eye. You may even find that if you already post simple diy images as part of your social media marketing, their engagement rate is regularly higher than that of plain-text status updates:
So again – you probably don’t need to be convinced that posting images can do a lot for your social visibility.
But how do you visualize your content?
It’s easy to get creatively stuck. Maybe you want to promote a blog post, but you don’t have a good image to go with it. Maybe you don’t think your industry easily lends itself to visuals at all. But there are ways you can create your own simple diy images to accompany your written updates – graphics that can help them get noticed and attract more engagement.
Engaging your audience with visual conversation starters
There’s a reason that recurring social media hashtags like #TBT remain so popular week after week – they give users a regular opportunity to share information about themselves and contribute to social conversations online. Talking about ourselves is seriously satisfying stuff – we spend about 80% of our social media conversations doing it – and a recurring conversation starter is the perfect encouragement.
Using graphics that accompany weekly events like Tried and True Tuesday (for posting favorite go-to recipes) and Share Your Plate Saturday (for posting photos of your own creations) means that this group can keep its 1100+ members engaged by first capturing their attention, then encouraging them to share with each other.
Could conversation starters be posted as plain-text updates? Of course – but creating accompanying visuals that you can post and re-post will make them all the more noticeable.
You can apply this same strategy to other types of updates, too
Though you shouldn’t necessarily add visual aids to every update you post, the boost they give to your visibility can go a long way.
For example, unless a website is set up with Twitter Cards, a tweet with a link won’t automatically generate any sort of visual link preview (like it would on Facebook). Instead, you can save an image from the destination URL to your hard drive, then attach it to your tweet linking there. It’ll cost you about 23 characters, but standing out in a sea of text-only tweets may be worth it.
Don’t see an image you’d like to download at your destination? You can just as easily create one of your own. For example, when we linked to a video Edgar review, we simply snapped a quick screenshot of the embedded YouTube player and attached the resulting image to our tweet:
Additions like these only take a moment using a tool like Awesome Screenshot or Skitch, but creating something from scratch can be just as easy with the right resources. So how do you create images that will stand out on social media without worrying about things like image copyrights, pricey editing software, or wrangling graphic designers?
Free, easy tips and resources for creating custom images
While sites like Flickr provide free access to images available via Creative Common license, understanding the varying requirements for fair, legal use of those images can also be confusing. If you want to keep things simple (while still avoiding having to pay for stock images), you may have better luck with a directory of free-to-use, no-strings-attached images, like Stockvault, Morguefile, and Public Domain Pictures.
Feel like you can’t find just the right image to use? Remember: a little editing goes a long way. Even a boring stock image can turn into an eye-catching design, and all it takes is a few filters no more complicated than what you’d find in Instagram.
For example, let’s pretend that we’re creating an image we’ll use to promote this very blog post on social media. We’ll start with this photo from Stockvault – it doesn’t look like much now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work with it.
Once you have your image, load it up into a free online image editor program, like Canva or PicMonkey. (Hint: web-based editors like these may run smoother if you first resize your image, as stock photos are often quite large.)
While programs like PicMonkey offer a variety of tools that are only available for paid users, for basic editing like this, your free options should be more than enough. For example, look at how we edited our stock image using just a few free, one-click filters:
In this case, we lightened the image so that we could add text:
And voila! In just a few minutes and at zero cost, a so-so stock image is ready to be shared on social media – it might not win any design awards, but it grabs attention and can even boost your retweets, and that’s more than worth the cost of a few characters of text. Create an image or two like this for every new blog post you write, and your promotional updates could start going a lot further.
[Tweet “Whether you’re creating conversation starters or simply scheduling day-to-day updates, giving your statuses a visual boost is easier than you think.”]
Do you make image creation a regular part of your social media routine? Or do you prefer for your text updates to stand on their own? Sound off in the comments below, and let us know your take on sprucing up statuses with DIY visuals!