How to create compelling visual content for social media that drives attention

Editorial Team

6 min read
Two people creating visual content on laptops

Social media is not only a great marketing tool for small businesses, it’s increasingly become an essential one. All around the world, small businesses have turned to social media as a key aspect of their marketing plan, using the various apps and platforms to publish content, engage with customers, and get the word out on special events or promotions.

While it’s tempting to prioritize the numbers, names, or taglines when talking about your business, nothing compares to the importance of visual content in social media. Whether types of visual content include a beautiful product picture, a behind-the-scenes video, or even a live-streamed event, creative social media post design is one of the best things you can learn to boost your brand. Needless to say, not all small business owners are photographers or videographers, nor can they always afford to hire a professional to oversee creating visual content for social media.

With that in mind, here are some basic tips that any small business owner can follow in order to master compelling visual content creation for your business’s social media.

How to get the best photos for social media

In the age of the smartphone, everyone can be a photographer. You’re probably already familiar with the basic principles of pointing a camera at something, but here are some simple tips to take your social media imagery to the next level.

  • Use a better camera: Smartphones are great, and most of them are able to capture very high-quality, high-resolution photos. However, a more robust camera, like a solid DSLR, can give you much more control over each image, allowing you to adjust things like shutter speed, ISO, and depth-of-field for more visually interesting and professional looking content.
  • It’s all about lighting: Photograph either in natural light, or with a good, even artificial light source. Avoid taking photos in harsh, direct sunlight as it can create high contrast and unflattering shadows. If using an artificial light source, try to diffuse the light by bouncing it off a wall or ceiling.
  • Use the rule of thirds: It’s one of the oldest and best rules in the photography handbook: Don’t place your subject directly in the center of the frame. It’s often more visually compelling if your photo subject is occupying one third of the frame. Most smartphones have the option to overlay a grid over your screen that divides the frame into thirds. Simply frame your subject at one of those grid intersections! As with any artform, keep in mind that “rules” can also be broken to great effect. Placing something at the dead-center of the frame can also create highly compelling social media imagery. But for the most part, and especially as you’re starting out, following the rule of thirds can noticeably uplift your visual content.
  • Edit and color correct: Always keep in mind that you can make your photos look dramatically better with some simple color editing. Instagram filters are a great, low-lift option for this, but don’t forget to also get into the deeper settings and play around with brightness, contrast, shadows and highlights, saturation, and vignettes. Some photo editing software will allow you to go even further. Just keep in mind not to over-edit. The key is to find a balance between natural and color-corrected.

READ: How to take product pictures that stand out

Choose a color palette

A color palette is a collection of colors that you use consistently in your visual content. You can level up your business’s social media profile by choosing a color palette and curating your feed accordingly. This kind of creative social media post design can help whoever visits your social media page build a strong visual connection with the aesthetics of your brand.

Start with the colors already associated with your brand, such as the logo or any colors that might be prominent in your business’ physical location. When customers see a well-curated feed with a consistent color palette, they build a stronger connection with the brand. It’s also an excellent way to make sure your posts always pop out from the endless stream of content people are scrolling through.

Keep video content natural

If you’re not a photographer, you’re probably also not a videographer, editor, cinematographer, or video producer. Don’t worry, you can still make great video content that performs well on various social media platforms! That’s because, for the most part, people don’t want to see overly produced professional-looking video content on social media.

Platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels have opened the door for brands to make video content that’s more natural and human. Don’t worry too much about production. Instead, keep things simple, straightforward, and human. Consider narrating a walk-through of your store, or showing off how one of your products is made. Something as simple as a quick on-camera introduction, along with an invitation to come check out the business whenever you’re in town, can help customers put a face to your brand, and entice them to come by.

Video thumbnails are key

A thumbnail is a still image that essentially represents your video content and is the first thing people will see before choosing to click on the video. If your business is regularly publishing video content, especially to YouTube or TikTok, pay some special attention to thumbnails. Make sure your thumbnails are clear, high resolution, and contain some kind of representative visual “hook” to entice people into watching the video. This usually involves selecting the most compelling or most important moment from the video and re-contextualizing it as the thumbnail.

By following these simple steps, you can make your content a lot more visually interesting, which will allow it to reach a bigger audience and get your brand name out there to potential customers. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Don’t be afraid to be experimental, human, and relatable! You’ll get better and better at it over time, and soon you’ll have a well-curated social media feed that can reach customers all around the globe.

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