Social media often moves -- quite literally -- at the speed of light. That's why it can sometimes feel almost impossible for brands to keep up without sacrificing quality. If you want to actively engage in online conversations, you need that piece of visual content now -- not a day from now.
Luckily, there are a variety of strategies that marketing departments can use to turn around that content faster, without settling for low-quality results. Let's first explore what a successful visual campaign on social media looks like, then talk about ways to produce successful social content, no matter your budget.
Creating a Micronarrative
Every social channel is different. You'll find unique audience segments on each, and those audiences will expect very different things. For example, Instagram skews toward particular styles of aesthetically pleasing visual content. A more political or topical post -- such as a data visualization or a piece of photojournalism -- might not fare as well on Instagram as it would on, say, Twitter or Facebook.
Likewise, the mediums and formats that work best on each platform are different. For instance, the maximum video length on Twitter is 140 seconds -- but it's just 60 seconds for Instagram. This means that any piece of visual content you produce needs to be optimized for every channel on which it appears. This, on top of the volume of content you need to create, can seem like a daunting ask. But there are practical, budget-friendly ways to achieve it, which I'll get into more below.
So what is a social-media micronarrative? The short answer is: it's a piece of visual content that's optimized for display on social channels.
Imagine, for example, a mini-infographic. The traditional long-scroll infographic -- which might include lots of data visualizations, icons, and illustrations -- doesn't display well on social channels. A mini-infographic takes a single stat or small group of stats that can stand on their own, and makes a social media-friendly version of that long-scrolling infographic.
A social media micronarrative can be a single graphic, or it can be a whole series. But in order to ensure the unity and quality of your series, you'll want to establish a visual language for each campaign, and build out a visual workbench. Let's talk about how these two tools can help you produce more, higher-quality content.
A Visual Language for Your Social-Media Campaigns
A visual language deploys a brand's visual identity in service of a specific campaign, product, initiative, or audience. While it incorporates much of an organization's brand guidelines, it may make small adjustments or additions in order to fully meet the needs and achieve the goals of a specific campaign.
There are a few advantages to creating a visual language for your social media strategy as a whole, or for particular social media campaigns or platforms.
First, it can ensure a consistent look and feel. If you've already clearly defined the color palette, illustration style, data visualization style, and typography you'll be using for all social media assets, it's simply easier to make sure they all look cohesive. They'll also, in turn, feel like they're working together to tell the larger story of your brand.
This leads us to the second benefit: a visual language helps you save time. When you're creating visual content as fast as possible, you don't want to have to start from scratch for every project. But if you haven't selected a design style and color palette already, you'll have to do that every time you create something new.
These are benefits you'll also see when you create a visual workbench.
A Visual Workbench for Social-Media Assets
A visual workbench is a set of custom-made icons, data visualizations, illustrations, and more that your brand is likely to use again and again.
For instance, you may have a few core service offerings that you talk about a lot. Wouldn't it be useful to have a ready-made icon for each? You could incorporate this icon into a wide variety of content without making that content from scratch. This is sure to save you countless hours of redundant work -- and will make producing quality social content much quicker and easier.
Likewise, when you have a visual workbench, you have more time to make dimension and format adjustments that optimize each piece of content for each channel. That means your content will display better -- and engage better -- everywhere it appears.
Try these strategies and you're sure to produce more (and better) social media micronarratives. It's time to take your social media strategy to the next level.