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How to Create Visual Social Media Content

By Patricia Redsicker

Do you use images to boost engagement?

Are you looking for tools to create better visual content?

Creating compelling visuals for your social media marketing can be challenging.

In this article you’ll find just about every resource you need to create visual stories on all of the major social platforms.

The Big Picture

Visual content has become extremely important to marketers’ social tactics. That’s because of a growing consumer interest in images as evidenced by popular sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat.

People connect more emotionally with images than they do with text. In fact, customers are more likely to take action or make a decision when prompted with an image.

That means brands using visual social media content to drive a stronger message to their audience will naturally cut through the noise and rise to the top.

Here’s a lot of important stuff you need to know about visual content for social media marketing.

#1: Making the Case for Visual Content in Social Media

The use of visual content in social media has exploded, partly because it’s so easy tocreate and share images and video with a smartphone, and partly because images are more persuasive than text content. Here are some important reasons why you should include visual stories in your social marketing tactics.

Why Use Visual Content in Social Media Marketing?: Over at the Marketing Tech Blog, Douglas Karr breaks it down for us with an infographic (of course) to explain why any social marketing should be dominated by visuals.

Visual Social Media: How Images Improve Your Social Media Marketing: In this Social Media Examiner podcast, visual marketing expert Donna Moritz explains the importance of visual content, and how you can use images to take your marketing to a whole new level.

The Facts and Figures on the Power of Visual Content Marketing: Jeff Bullas takes it home with an explanation of why pictures have become so popular and why using them is smart. He reinforces his point with another amazing infographic that proves how powerful visual content is!

#2: Exploring Types of Visual Content

There are different types of visual content, ranging from images and video to infographics and SlideShare presentations. Some are easy and cheap to create, while some might require a professional designer. For small businesses looking to get big results on a small budget, check out Fiverr for great deals. Here are some ideas for visual content that will help make your message more engaging.

Four Types of Visual Content That Cut Through the NoiseEkaterina Walter(author of The Power of Visual Storytelling) shares four types of visual content that your brand should definitely be using to engage communities and customers.

28 Ideas for Engaging Visual Content to Post on Social Media: Jennifer Kardell gives us 28 more ways (some simple, some outright genius) to use visual social media content to connect with buyers.

30 Compelling Examples of Visual Storytelling on the Web: For some great examples of visual content, check out these amazing illustrations shared by Jessica Moon on Digital Telepathy. They’ll definitely inspire your visual creativity.

#3: Creating Visual Content

Creating powerful visual content can be challenging. Fortunately, with a little work and some tips from these articles, you should have no problem at all. Check them out:

26 Ways to Use Visuals in Your Social Media Marketing: Strategy, strategy, strategy—that’s where it all starts. Social Media Examiner’s very own Debbie Hemley is a genius with her complete A–Z guide for getting started with a visual strategy. This might seem like a lot to digest, but once you have it down, you can execute these ideas across multiple social channels (including your blog).

10 Free Design Tools for Creating Stunning Visual Content: HubSpot’s Ginny Soskey will blow your mind with these free tools for creating stunning visual content. Everything from infographic templates to tools for sprucing up images, it’s all in there.

How to Make Visual Content for Social Media in 5 Minutes: Here’s yet another great post by Ginny! This time she shows you how to customize an image for social media in just five minutes! Don’t miss it.

5 Tips to Make Your Visual Content PopFandom Marketing covers five secrets for designing images for the social web. These tips will not only make your visuals look great, they’ll grab your readers’ attention as well!

#4: Getting Your Visual Content Shared

Creating compelling visual content is only part of the equation. Now your audience needs to know it exists! Make sure you distribute your visual content far and wide via social media and encourage others to pass it along to their friends and peers. Here are some tips for sharing your images.

4 Tips for Making Visual Content Go Viral—and Benefit Your BusinessDan Tynski over at Content Marketing Institute shares a study that takes a look at the viral potential of visual content on Google+. Although the research only looked at Google+, the implications are intriguing and can be applied to other social platforms as well. This is fascinating stuff.

There’s an App for That: How to Get the Most From Your Visual Content: In this post from Social Media Today, Erika LaChance shows us how to use some of the most popular apps (Instagram, Vine, Snapchat and Pinterest) to distribute your visual content and increase engagement with your brand.

#5: Learning the Rules for Using Online Images

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you know the risk of uploading and using Google images on your site. It’s really important to make sure you’re playing by the rules and getting permission for any online images you use. Here are some tips about the right (and wrong) ways to use online images.

Copyright, Fair Use and How it Works for Online ImagesSara Hawkins (a lawyer and blogger) cautions us about the right and wrong way to use online images. If you use Flickr, Photobucket and similar resources to get your blog images, make sure you have permission and give credit to the original creator of that work.

10 Do’s and Don’ts for Using Stock Photos in Your Marketing [SlideShare]: HubSpot’s Ginny Soskey shares a brilliant SlideShare presentation by Brittany Leaning that makes boring stock photos fun. In fact, her best tip is “Don’t assume all stock photos are cheesy.” Take a look and see what she means.

#6: Using Instagram

With Instagram, marketers have a potential audience of 100 million active users who take over 40 million photos per day. Take a look at these brilliant ideas for using Instagram to reach a broader customer base.

10 Creative Ways to Use Instagram for BusinessVanessa Au gives away some great content ideas for getting extra visibility for your brand images with the Instagram community! Very cool post.

16 Creative Uses of Instagram Video: In just 15 seconds, you can create visually compelling videos to share on Instagram. Check out these fun (and sometimes funny) videos from brands that clearly know how to engage. Max Knoblauch will have you rolling on the floor laughing and learning at the same time.


#7: Pinning on Pinterest

Pinterest has become a household name. It’s the fastest-growing social network with over 70 million users. But perhaps the most attractive feature about this platform is the massive web traffic referrals (66.5%) it generates for marketers. Here are some ways you can leverage Pinterest for your business.

21 Unexpected Ways Brands Can Use PinterestCourtney Seiter at Marketing Land is all about using Pinterest in interesting ways. Some of these you already know, but there are some well-kept secrets in there too!

10 Creative Ways to Use Pinterest for Marketing: Since direct sales content is not allowed on Pinterest, Susan Gunelius of Sprout Social talks about 10 ways to do indirect marketing.

#8: Leveraging Flickr

Flickr is probably the best place to put pictures on the Internet these days. Flickr users upload and share 1.4 million photos a day and their pictures don’t slide down to the bottom of their friends’ news feeds. Here are some tips for leveraging Flickr.

5 Tips to Increase Your Visibility With FlickrAnn Smarty addresses some common misconceptions about Flickr and how to use the platform to raise overall visibility for your brand.

More Than Photo Sharing: 5 Unique Uses for Flickr: Great post from Nancy Messieh that shows how to go beyond photo sharing to give your audience a more compelling visual experience.


#9: Capitalizing on Visual Content

Visual content was already important in 2013. Going forward, an even greater emphasis will be placed on images and video as larger numbers of your target audience use mobile platforms and social channels. Here are some resources toinform your visual content strategy.

Visual Content Marketing: Capture and Engage Your Audience: If you have 58 minutes to sit in on this webinar, it’ll be well worth your time. In this presentation, the good folks at Marketo demonstrate how to leverage visual content to create a successful social media campaign.

6 Ways Social Media Marketers Should Capitalize on the Visual Content Revolution: And if you don’t have 58 minutes, check out how Pamela Vaughanbreaks it down into six easy steps in this infographic.

Well, there you have it!

Pictures are in, text is out. With these tips from the experts, it should be no problem tocreate and implement visual stories into your social media marketing.

What do you think? What other visual content resources do you have? Link them up for us in the comment box below!

Tags: content marketingflickrimage editing toolinstagram contentpatricia redsickerpinterest contentsocial media content strategysocial media marketingvisual contentvisual storytelling

ABOUT THE AUTHORPatricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She helps business owners craft content that sells. Her blog provides healthcare industry content marketing advice.


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Why Apple’s Suburban Spaceship Could Lose the War for Tech Talent

  • 12.20.13
  • 6:30 AM



The vision for Apple’s new headquarters. Image: City of Cupertino


Though the world will never see another product developed by Steve Jobs, one of his most ambitious projects is still in the pipeline. Before he died, Jobs spent years working with architect Norman Foster to design Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino, a giant ring of glass that looks like some sort of alien spacecraft nestled in a suburban California forest.

Its ambition is to be a marvel of modern architecture. “Apple, which had already changed the nature of consumer products, seemed now to want to try to do nothing less than change Silicon Valley’s view of what buildings should be,” architecture critic Paul Goldberger writes in the latest issue of Vanity Fair.

But there’s a problem. As Apple seeks to change Silicon Valley’s view of what buildings should be, Silicon Valley is rethinking its view of where they should be, even as the company that Jobs built is staying put in its hometown.

Increasingly, young tech talent wants to live and work in cities. As a result, the hottest tech companies, from Google to Twitter to Uber, are setting up shop in San Francisco, a long drive north of Silicon Valley, the traditional stronghold of the computer game. In the cutthroat world of tech recruiting, catering to the demands of the talent is everything, and even Apple isn’t immune to the first rule of real estate: location, location, location.

Employees aren’t expected to start working in the new Apple headquarters until 2016, but the potential risk already is mounting. Last month, the San Francisco real estate scene began buzzing with the rumor that Google is looking to snag massive amounts of space in the city. Though the search giant has a decent-sized San Francisco office — a complement to its headquarters 36 miles south in Mountain View, California — a major new Google outpost in the city could shift tech’s center of gravity away from Silicon Valley proper and bring even more companies tumbling after.

Already, the most talked-about and valuable startups in the tech industry have set up shop in San Francisco almost as if it’s a foregone conclusion. Dropbox, Uber, Square, Airbnb, Pinterest. All of these are companies on track for IPOs of Twitter-esque proportions. (Twitter, too, makes its home in San Francisco.) In a recent report from IPO market research firm CB Insights, the 26 still-private tech startups believed to be valued at $1 billion or more include nine in San Francisco and an equal number spread across the Silicon Valley suburbs.

One rough distinction between the top San Francisco startups and those to the south is that the city-based companies tend to offer products and services geared toward consumers. In Silicon Valley proper, the biggest startups are more likely to make hardware and software used inside businesses and among the developers of the world. But even this is changing.

Hardcore geek magnets such as New Relic and Heroku are based in San Francisco. Cloudera — a company that mimics the software that drives such massive web operations as Facebook and Google — opened a city office just so it could rub shoulders with these web giants. Last year, the former chief architect of Google’s search query engine told WIRED he left to take a job at Cloudera because the cloud data startup was now closer to his home.

Even Facebook is part of this massive tech trend, recently moving its headquarters closer to San Francisco in part to maintain its hold on talent. To be sure, Silicon Valley will remain a tech hub, but the point remains: The balance is shifting. And Apple is putting all its eggs in a mile-wide spaceship-like basket.

But come on, would talented techies really forgo the money, resources, and prestige of a company like Apple just because it happens to be in Cupertino? They very well might. Consider Goldberger’s description of Silicon Valley beyond the walls of its corporate campuses: “Most of Silicon Valley is suburban sprawl, plain and simple, its main artery a wide boulevard called El Camino Real that might someday possess some degree of urban density but now could be on the outskirts of Phoenix.”

In that light, it’s easy to see why 20-something Googlers would rather live in the city and take the Google Bus to the Valley — and why they might be even more drawn to the company if they could live and work in the same place.

Tech is hardly the only industry driving an urban resurgence as corporate America tries to lure new talent by meeting its smartest recruits where they want to live. Everyone from United Airlines to Hillshire Brands is moving back downtown, according to a recent Wall Street Journal piece. Reporter Lauren Weber writes that commercial real estate vacancy rates have fallen faster in cities than in suburbs as the overall market has recovered in recent years. And nearly half of all Americans with bachelor’s degrees are clustering in 20 metro areas.

Despite the powerful draw of city life, however, Apple still has one way to lure engineers and designers into its mothership: It’s Apple. The maker of the world’s most iconic products can count on its brand to draw talent into its, ahem, inner circle. And its new headquarters might wind up being so amazing that even the most dedicated urban denizens will be drawn to its architectural magic.

Regardless, it’s not like an urban headquarters was ever really a possibility for Apple. Cities overall, with their messy, chaotic, open-ended ways, their dense public spaces that encourage interaction and collaboration, don’t fit Apple as a company or culture. In a way, a closed circle is an ideal metaphor for Apple’s product philosophy: Our design is so seamlessly perfect you never have to leave our world. The question is whether walling itself off from the real world will one day lead to cracks in that perfection.


(1) Prep:
Write down the top three keyword phrases that people use to find you on search.

Pro tip: Remember, shorter keyword phrases work better for Twitter.

Write down three pieces of content that are related to the search results of your keyword phrases. You’ll be able to use this content to draw prospects back to your website.

(2) Get Started:
Head on over to Twitter and type in your keywords and hashtags using any combination you would like.

Pro tip: Mix and match searching your keyword phrases with a hashtag and without a hashtag for the most diverse results.

Please Note: Twitter has a couple options to sort your search results (see below). It automatically shows you “Top” results. If you’d like to see more results, click “All” at the top of your search. Or, just to the left of your search results, you can click “People” to only see other profiles, not tweets,that match your search.

Based on their profiles, identify five Twitter users that could be potential leads for your business. Then follow them!

(3) Take Action:
Now it’s time to start sharing the pieces of content you identified earlier. Start engaging with potential prospects by:
• Retweeting some of the content they’ve shared on Twitter, especially if what they shared is relevant to your industry (remember, these will appear to your followers)
• Clicking “Favorite” for relevant tweets to your industry or tweets you appreciate for being interesting or funny (these will not appear to your followers)
• Responding to any questions they may have tweeted to establish thought leadership

Marketing :
Create a Twitter list of all the potential prospects you’ve identified to make checking in on them easy for you. Make sure to name your list something that is relevant to your industry. (You do this from your own profile page.)

Please Note: Twitter lists can be public or private. If you make a public list, name it something you don’t mind others seeing (so do NOT name a public list “My Prospects” for instance – name it, “[Your Industry] Leaders” or something equally complimentary.) When you add someone to a public list, they get an alert the same way they get alerts for retweets, favorites, and @-mentions. (If you’d rather create a private list, feel free to name it whatever is best for your Twitter usage.)

[Take-home exercise]
Spend 20 minutes a week:
– Repeating this exercise and adding more prospects to your list (5 mins)
– Retweeting relevant content for your industry from this Twitter list (5 mins)
– Favoriting tweets from potential prospects from this Twitter list (5 mins)
– Engaging with potential prospects by posing or answering questions from your Twitter list to establish thought leadership (5 mins)



By Maggie Hibma



What is Social Prospecting?

As an inbound marketer, you already understand the importance of social media as part of your marketing strategy. With more than one billion monthly active users on Facebook, and over 230 million monthly active users on Twitter, smart marketers know there’s more potential than ever to use social platforms to get their name out there, spread their content, and draw more people to their site. Hey, it’s your job to make people aware of what your company can offer, right?

Right. So that’s why smart inbound marketers practice social prospecting – the art of scouring the social web, identifying potential prospects for your business, and engaging them to draw them to your site and get those potential prospects to your sales team. You’ve already got your fans and followers in your social networks. Now it’s time to check out everyone else.

About This Workbook

 This social prospecting workbook will teach you the fundamentals of how to listen to social media conversations in order to generate leads for your business. It’s beyond monitoring keywords. It’s about engaging people that may or may not know what your business can do for them.

 We’ve identified the quickest way to find potential prospects on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+.  We hope you can use the worksheets to help you get started with social prospecting.

 Every worksheet includes:

 Short preparatory work to make the actual prospecting easy

  • Visual instructions on how and where to find prospects
  • Pro tips that will help you get the best results
  • Prescriptions (Marketing Rx) for success
  • Take-home exercises for follow-up prospecting

 Getting Started

 To get started with any one of these worksheets, you’ll need:

 A social profile for that network

  • Keyword phrases that people use to find you on search
  • Organic content related to those keyword phrases

To be continued in next edition…

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