Excelling on social media can often involve producing absorbing images. But although the benefits of using pictures in social media marketing is well known, creating scientifically shareable images is a facet of access that is much more obscure. Luckily, there is a huge amount of research already published on how to create social media images that are shared on a widespread basis. This means utilising the appropriate colours, fonts, text and many other aspects in order to create the ideally marketable image.
So this article with delve into the subject of how to create images that your readers are enthusiastic about sharing with others. What’s more, this is all scientifically-backed.
WHAT MAKES A SHAREABLE SOCIAL MEDIA IMAGE?
There are five key aspects of the ideal socially shareable image. You could use these five elements to spell the acronym RETCH, but let’s not go down that road…
- Emotion: connecting with your followers emotionally makes it more likely for them to share material.
- Relevance: your image should be appropriate for your niche as well as that of your audience.
- Colours: Visual appeal is important, and utilising the most appropriate colours can achieve a surprising increase in sharing.
- Typography: choosing a visually effective font can improve the aesthetics of what you’re doing, but can also be used to communicate something of what you're ultimately trying to say.
- Hashtags: using the right hashtag(s) will ultimately pull your audience in and make them more likely to interact with you.
So let's break down those five important elements in more detail.
The first important aspect of creating images is that they should be treated as content. Images should offer genuine value to the reader or follower, and have a generally positive vive. If they don't do this, there is very little chance that they will be willing to share them. Thus, your images should supplement points that you've already made, illustrate or add to relevant and interesting statistics, provide tweetable and valuable quotes and quotations, and add depth to existing marketing material. Ultimately, this should be content that adds to what you have already written.
When trying to make an image emotional, the type of emotion you are trying to convey is important. Colour can be a big contributor to this process, and different colours are associated both consciously and subconsciously with very different emotions. For example, black creates feelings at the despair end of the spectrum, while bright primary colors can create joy and happiness. The type of emotion that you wish to convey can vary significantly, but research from Harvard university indicates that five primary emotions tend to lead to viral sharing. These are admiration, interest, serenity, amazement and astonishment. Essentially, you're looking to create something that makes an immediate and sizeable impact on a potential audience.
Another obvious aspect of creating emotion is to concentrate on simple designs. There is no magic bullet for creating viral images, but the psychology of design indicates that people are simply more responsive to simplicity. Images and logos laid out in a clean, simple and clear way will always have greater impact. It is thought that the reason for this is that people's brains switch off when they are bombarded with too much information.
Focus on clarity, and don't be afraid to leave space around your image, as this can actually enhance its impact. And don't overdo filters and effects… in short, understand that less is often more.
Finally, it is important to know the basic sizes for each social media platform that you are utilising. There are many guides for this on the Internet that are continually updated, so that it be no problem to stick to the right image size. This is certainly essential, as failing to do so can really hinder the efficacy of your design, thus rendering sticking to all of the arguments made here completely pointless!
Choosing a relevant image is, of course, extremely important. And sharing what you are presenting in such a way that it fits the ethos of your organisation, and who you are presenting to, is absolutely critical. And this is particularly clear once you take into account the way that the brain works. The human brain is extremely visual, and 90% of the information that it ultimately processes is based on visual input. We may think that our thoughts are comprised of rational, evidence-based thinking, but in reality the brain processes visual imagery considerably more quickly, and thus we often make decisions based on the emotional impact of this processing. It is estimated that the brain processes visual imagery 60,000 times faster than written information.
This ensures that when the brain encounters an image, it rapidly attempts to join the dots between what you see and what should be seen. We see with our brain as much as our eyes, and the mind is continually calculating when we encounter visual imagery to ensure that the overall picture makes sense.
What relevance does this have to marketing? What this means is that if your image doesn't fit your brand, niche and status updates then the brains of your audience will instantly process this…and it simply won't compute. You will instantly drive away followers and you can forget about them clicking the share button.
But working out what is relevant to your particular marketplace can be complicated. So the best thing you can do is simply engage in a little research. Check out some of the most authoritative social media platforms in your particular niche, and note the images that their followers are sharing most often. Make notes of any similarities between these images and work out where they could possibly fit into your particular content model. Your images have to make sense to your readers.
One final point to note is that many influential social media platforms utilise abstract images as part of their portfolio. These are visuals that make a point through representation, and can often be particularly popular with young people. The question you have to ask yourself is whether these can pose as relevant images. And the answer is that this is hugely dependent on the particular goal of the images in question.
Abstract images can be used to build up a brand identity, often one that is somewhat enigmatic. Thus, if you were looking for maximum positivity and engagement, then it is better to go with simple images that are defined by clarity. This will ensure that followers have less work to do in order to understand what you are trying to say.
Colours are a powerful way of conveying meaning, and some research indicates that they represent as much as 85% of the reasoning behind the purchase of a product. While we associate certain colours with certain moods, it is also worthwhile to point out that cultural factors and geographical locations can have an influence on how different colours are perceived. But in general terms, it is possible to identify colours that have a particular behavioural influence over the population at large. Thus, it has been proven in a Georgia Tech study that examined over 1,000,000 Pinterest images between 2009 and 2011 that red, purple and pink improve sharing, while green, black, blue and yellow all tend to inhibit this process.
That doesn't mean that images have to be completely comprised of these strong sharing colours, but it does mean that using them to make standout points within pictures can be particularly effective.
Choosing the right fonts may be an element of social media imagery that many people have barely considered at all. But fonts can in fact convey a significant amount of information, with research indicating that text can impact upon everything from your political beliefs to whether you're an optimist or a pessimist. But how do they have an impact on getting more shares on social media? The answer is quite simple… they can play a part in generating appropriate emotion. Utilising the correct farms can motivate readers, driving decision-making and ultimately incentivising people to share particular content. Selecting the appropriate fonts is all ultimately based on the particular message that you are trying to convey to others, and the emotion that you wish to give out within them.
The amount of research that has been done into this subject is quite surprising, but here is a very quick guide to choosing the right one for social media.
Above all else, you must think beyond the words that you've actually written and ensure that the font is a medium for the content of your message. This might sound complicated, but there is a relatively simple three step procedure that you can follow which will enable you to choose the most appropriate font.
The first thing to do is decide on the particular emotion that you wish to convey. Then create the design in question three separate times, locating three particular fonts that fit with the mood of your message. Create the design in three different ways, and compare the three fonts to decide which one is superior. And thirdly, do take into consideration which of the three fonts is the most instantly readable. If your audience is unable to read a particular font, it stands to reason that it will be extremely difficult to get across your particular message. Aesthetics are never more important than clarity.
Finally, understand the importance of hashtags. The world revolves around hashtags nowadays, and choosing the right one can be as important as the image itself.
There are four key questions that you may wish to ask yourself before deciding on a hashtag:
- Does it fit my layout?
- Does the font fit the message?
- Is it relevant?
- Will my readers care about it?
Never underestimate the importance of getting the right hashtag. Research has indicated that hashtags can lead to as much as 850% more shares. That is hard to believe, but it was demonstrated to be the case in a large study involving tens of thousands of social media feeds. This indicates that hashtags aren't just a gimmick, they actually have a massive impact over the success of a social media campaign.
To recap, all social media images need six individual elements in order to be shared on a widespread basis.
Emotion - your audience should feel something when they look at your image.
Layout - should be kept uncluttered.
Relevance - all photographs, backgrounds and filters should be logical and fit in with your particular niche or branding.
Colours - use the colours that match your brand, and focus on red, pink and purple in order to acquire the largest amount of shares.
Font - ensure the words you use match up to the font you choose. Don’t allow your image to convey the wrong message.
Hashtags - can create viral potential.
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