Brushing up your social media imagery
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Brushing up your social media imagery

Get visual. That’s the lesson we’re here to teach today. All the rest is technique – spotting opportunities and making the most of them. But the beating heart of our advice on creating effective social media marketing is ‘make it look good’.

John Medina, molecular biologist and author of Brain Rules, claims that a simple illustration means 65% of people who see your message will remember it in three days’ time, compared to only 10% for plain text. Everyone loves a bit of eye candy, so you’re not going to forget a visual treat like this in a hurry.

What do Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram have in common? They’re all massive social platforms for creating and sharing visual media. They afford you considerable reach, if you can create professional-looking, interesting, sharable content.

At it’s most simple, it’s a matter of carefully selecting basic images (either no-attribution, royalty-free ones or, preferably, ones you’ve taken yourself), editing them to the right size for the platform, and adding a restrained, selective amount of text, conveying your message with the minimum number of words.

Video

Our beginner’s guide to online video will get you started on the next step: video marketing. Video consumes more time, money and effort than still imagery – it demands planning, at least a vague storyboard, and a clear sense of what you want to achieve. Content that builds brand awareness needs to provoke a lasting emotional response in the viewer, a feeling they’ll associate with the content and the brand. Content that’s promoting a product needs to address a practical pain point – taking a problem the viewer’s experiencing and showing how the product resolves it.

360 video is based on panoramic photography, and offers some awesome potential for immersive video storytelling – putting viewers inside the content and allowing them to seize control of the camera, creating their own experience of your virtual world. This is brilliant. This puts viewers behind the wheel of a racing car, lets them tag along on a scuba dive, take a tour of the Death Star… and it’s all the more memorable for that immersive quality.

The biggest development of 2016 was the explosion of live video, especially on Facebook. For brands, this is a huge opportunity: you can now broadcast, in real-time, any event you’re attending or hosting, any moment when big news breaks for your brand or anything happening around the office that’s just so you. The key here is to be careful. Just because it’s live doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about the basics –- what are you trying to achieve with this stream, what should it be saying about your brand and how are you going to frame the shot so that it actually looks like you know what you’re doing? Working through the initial awkwardness of live performance by talking through your old content on camera helps – and remember, you don’t need to share your test footage.

It’s definitely worth coming to terms with live video, though, because Facebook’s European vice-president Nicola Mendelsohn predicts the Facebook of 2021 will definitely be all-mobile, and probably all-video. Mendelsohn adds that live videos receive ten times more comments than pre-recorded videos. Engagement is so much higher when content feels more immediate, authentic and human, and live content has a rough-and-ready quality that delivers those exact feelings.

Three of the best

To wrap up, we’re going to do that thing people do early in the year and talk about our favourite stuff from last year: an image, a video and a social marketing campaign that has knocked it out of the proverbial park.

1. Spotify

Spotify’s “It’s been weird” campaign harnesses two things: to mark the end of a tense, depressing year we’ve just lived through which gave us Trump, Brexit and a string of celebrity deaths, and the pool of data Spotify maintains about every track it hosts. Each billboard combines an event and a data point into a simple statement about how Spotify has helped its users address a pain point, and illustrating each one makes them human and memorable. Simple, but effective.

2. Under Armour

Under Armour continue to rock at what they do. Simple, visceral, character-driven visual narratives, with a simple message of power and discipline. Sound and vision synchronised perfectly. Cool hashtag that sounds meaningful without really meaning very much.

3. Deadpool

Finally, there’s Deadpool. A legitimate breakout character in the age of ‘peak superhero’, Deadpool’s first solo outing was delivered on the back of a huge social media push. He popped up on Tinder, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, even as a custom emoji. He crossed over into his actor’s social presence to the point where it’s hard to tell when Ryan Reynolds isn’t in character. The thing is, Deadpool the film isn’t as daring as all that. It’s a pretty standard superhero-origin-story number that sold itself on its central character. That’s why social media worked so well for it: it built up the crazy character well in advance so audiences who’d never met him before knew what to expect.

Do that. Be more Deadpool. Know who you are, what you want from people and make simple, kick-ass visual statements that draw people into your world.

Jon Payne is technical director of inbound marketing agency, Noisy Little Monkey.

Jon Payne Technical Director Noisy Little Monkey
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