Anna was part of the early growth team that grew Canva's userbase from 500k to 10 million in less than 12 months. She enjoys sharing her knowledge around content strategy, visual and online marketing. Have a question? Get in touch.
Visuals are powerful.
The mere presence of images on your blog increases your visitors’ willingness to read your content by 80%, and it also helps those visitors remember more of what they have read.
But do you ever stop to consider what kind of visuals you should be using?
You don’t have to take a shot in the dark – certain types of visuals reliably succeed on social platforms. Keep reading to learn about five highly shareable types of images to use in your content marketing efforts.
Custom Styled Photos :
Nothing beats a really well-shot photo. If you have access to good photo equipment or even a knack for taking a superb shot with your iPhone, custom photos can take your content to new heights.
Warby Parker does a great job creating popular “flatlay” style images for their Instagram account that are fun and colorful. These are both attributes that they want their audience to associate with their glasses, which are also always built into the shot. Their flat lays tend to get over 1000 likes each.
To take a well-styled shot, keep the following things in mind. First and foremost, be sure to have plenty of light. Natural light is ideal, but if you don’t have access to it, you can place a few light sources around your shot. You need more light than you probably realize! Also consider the angle you are shooting from (for example, top-down shots, called “flatlays,” are very popular) and how tightly you plan to crop the image. And don’t forget to think about the other colors and objects within the frame! I like to set up my scene, take a photo, wait a few minutes, and look at the photo. If I see extraneous items in the frame, or things aren’t quite arranged how I like, I haven’t done my whole photoshoot and still have time to adjust.
The power of original photography comes from its uniqueness. The only place your audience will see those images or find that exact content is with you. Best of all, strong photograph works on just about any social network you may be interested in targeting.
Everyone loves a good quote, and there are many people who draw a lot of motivation from quotes, proverbs, and well-worn sayings.
This quote image takes that to a whole new level. It combines a striking landscape photo with a clear and easy to read the quote and a signature-like attribution. To date, it has received over 4,500 likes on Instagram.
This motivational quote, created with a brush lettering tool and white paint on brown paper, has been repinned over 26,000 times. Not only is the quote inspiring, but so is the lettering, as evidenced by the types of boards it has been saved onto, which include “Typography Inspiration,” “Ideas for Lettering,” and “Creative Lettering.”
As you saw above, quote images are simple but impactful; you can style the typography, colors, and background all around the subject of the quote. They’re also collectible because people want to save and remember their favorite quotes, and highly shareable because they provide a lot of value in one small package. Quotes can also be super trendy in the right format; right now, hand lettering and brush lettering are majorly popular, leading to a ton of interest on Pinterest especially.
That brings us to where these images work best. As discussed above, there’s Pinterest, where many people have an “inspirational quotes” or even “hand lettering” board where they save the quotes they love. Instagram also has a huge audience for quote images. They can even succeed on Facebook, if you have the right community for it.
Collages are great for capturing a mood from a few angles or giving a subject multiple dimension. They are also useful for showing before and after shots, such as a recipe in progress and complete, or a room before and after a makeover.
Buzzfeed’s new healthy living vertical Goodful used a collage to show off a set of 8 partner stretches. They simply arranged a photo of each stretch around a center square with text. The image has already garnered over 1,300 likes in just a few days.
Collages really lend themselves to Instagram, where the arrangement adds interest to the familiar square shape. These types of images also do well on Pinterest, especially when you make them taller than they are wide. In fact, the ideal shape for Pinterest images is a 2:3 aspect ratio or about 735 by 1100 pixels. One place where collages don’t do as well is on Facebook, which already automatically creates a collage when you upload multiple images into the same album, though they can be okay when posted on their own.
How do you create a collage? There are tons of free tools online that let you create collages quickly and easily. Canva’s collage maker is one of the easiest: just pick a template, drag in the photos you want to use, edit the text, and export the image.
Data is powerful. Interesting statistics and easy to comprehend charts make for very compelling, shareable imagery.
A “data visualization” can be what we traditionally think of as “infographics,” the very long, skinny images packed full of charts, graphs, and explanation. However, infographics broke down into pieces, or even a single chart that illustrates a point really well can be extremely shareable.
The more limited size of these graphics makes them easier to share on most social networks, and is especially helpful for reaching audiences on Twitter and LinkedIn. These more professionally-driven audiences like to share facts backed up with strong data, and the accompanying visual helps your post stand out from the feed.
Another type of image that is long and tall like an infographic, but more specialized, is an instructographic. These are geared towards teaching the viewer how to do or make something. Instructographics tap into the fact that 65% of people are visual learners.
Their success and shareability come from the fact that they are just plain useful – people want to know how to make things, and they will save instructions for later if they find a resource that breaks it down quickly and easily.
This instruct graphics by Bespoke Bride details the process of creating a floral arrangement from a pineapple. Importantly, the largest and most eye-catching image is the final result. This isn’t something I’ve ever even thought to do, but seeing how easy it is to make and how fun the final result is, I can understand the hype! This instruct graphics has received over 55,000 repins to date.
An instructographic doesn’t have to be hard to make. They can be as simple as a series of photos detailing steps of a process (which you can even create with a collage tool), or as involved as a series of instructional illustrations with text overlaid.
These are perfect for Pinterest, where the long format gives them more screen time, and Facebook, where more compact versions (or series of images broken up into an album) are more appropriate.
If you want to succeed in your content marketing efforts, you should base the types of visuals you produce on what succeeds on your chosen social network.
Facebook: Images must fit the format of the site and not be hard to understand for their heavily mobile audience.
Instagram: Remember your aspect ratio constraints and produce imagery that is eye-catching while users scroll through the feed.
Pinterest: Remember that golden 2:3 aspect ratio. Longer images thrive here.
Twitter & LinkedIn: Data visualizations can really drive sharing.
What other types of images have you found success in sharing on your social media accounts? Share your stories in the comments below!
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