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Visual Social Content: A Set of Tips and Tools

“Every picture tells a story”: now that Rod Stewart song rings especially true. Use of visual social platforms has become so prevalent that it’s even been eclipsing text based social content. At PRSA’s Digital Impact Conference last Thursday in New York, specialists in visual digital content reviewed core concepts related to this trend along with tips for creating story-telling visuals. It might not be as simple as it looks.

Why? “Visuals are processed far faster by the brain than text”, said Heidi Sullivan, Cision’s SVP of digital content. “Stories with visuals are also more compelling”.

Which? Sullivan shared a few quick facts about the most popular social visual platforms:
• In 2012, Pinterest and Instagram were the fastest growing social networks.
• Instagram has more than 90 million monthly active users.
• Pinterest produces almost as much referral traffic as Twitter.
• The average user spends 88% more time on websites that contain videos, (thanks in large part to YouTube).
Vine users post 12 million videos on Twitter every day.
• By 2016, two-thirds of the world’s mobile traffic will be video.

When? Before embarking on a new visual platform, be sure you can provide frequent updates, Sullivan said. “You need mental and emotional energy to maintain social networks. Otherwise, you don’t want a ghost town with no fresh content. You need to keep users’ interest and find the right tone for the community.”

Who? For Pinterest, it’s all about reaching the right target audience and “finding out how your products and services best fit their lifestyles”, Sullivan noted. “This platform represents an opportunity to showcase your brand’s personality. Create pinboards based on a few keywords. It’s also a prime spot to link to related content and run contests”, she added. For other Pinterest tips, click here. (PRNewser searched Pinterest using keywords ‘Wimbledon’ and ‘fashion’, and found the image shown above)

What? Photos represent a very effective way to tell stories, Daniel Lemin, founder of Social Studio, observed. He often uses multiple photos in a sequential style, such as three-part triptychs or four-part quadriptych grid formats. The right composition and lighting contribute to the narrative, he added.

Where? Infographics are harder to produce unless you have in-house design staff. So Lemin located a few sources for producing infographics using templates, though they make take some time to learn. These include infogr.am, visual.ly and piktochart. The process involves inserting the data, adding the graphics and publishing.

How? “To produce better content, visual consistency is important”, said Lemin. He cited Red Bull as an example of a brand that uses consistent images on its Facebook feed. Nearly all the photos posted are action shots, keeping with the brand’s positioning, ‘Red Bull Gives You Wings’. He also advises having a visual style guide. (That way, your visuals will be well-placed shots, and not end up scattered all over the court.)

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