Visual social media: A few insights from a presentation I attended.

This past week, I went to a presentation on visual media (also dubbed social media 2.0) and left with a few interesting insights that I’d love to share with you in this post.

Here’s what we’re talking about:

Pinterest, Vine, and Instagram. Not that these are the only platforms in the visual media category, but they are the most prominent right now.

What’s different about these from earlier social media platforms (think Facebook and Twitter, for example) is that they are designed with a strong focus on (wait for it) visuals – photos, images, graphics, and video. There is less text all around, and the visuals are what inspire the connecting, acting, and sharing.

In a way, it’s the next phase of the evolution of social media, and it’s also coming closer to closing the communication circle. Humans shared images before developing alphabets. Our brains process images faster than words.

That’s cool. I also thought of a few of my clients who just don’t enjoy writing. I’ve been recommending they make a short video the centerpiece of their blog posts or newsletters instead of an article. Creating on visual media and sharing that content might be another great avenue for them.

How can you use them, and who’s doing it well?

Tell a story about who you are, why you do what you do, how you help people, what others say about your work, what inspires you, what you value, what your work space looks like, what information or insights you find important.

One business in the health & wellness field that’s figured this out is Simple Green Smoothies – check out their Pinterest profile here. Consistent look and feel, beautifully arranged images, actionable information, well organized boards with some of their own content and some curated pins that are of interest to their community.

What’s the holdup?

The presenters (Jennie Day-Burgett and Jessica Williams of Pritchard Communications) pointed out the lack of skill (“How do I put a text overlay on my photo?” “How do I make a vine?” etc), time, and money. The classic trio.

Before I list some of the resources Jennie and Jessica shared for creating visual content on a budget, I just want to remind you of an important question: is it worth it? Do you want to invest the time to learn how to put an overlay on your images, make it a routine to curate interesting pins, maybe pay for artwork or for help?

The answer might be hell yes! – just make sure not to spread yourself too thin. Abandoned and neglected social media profiles are sad, sad things.

Now for the resources!

Overgram lets you add sweet text overlays to your Instagram photos.

Canva is great for creating simple but legit looking infographics, postcards, etc.

Compfight is a tool by Flickr where you can find Creative Commons licensed images, too. I’ve been doing that on Flickr itself and on the Creative Commons site itself before. It seems to load a bit faster, and it gives you the copy-and-paste ready code for crediting the photographer. See it in action here:

ingredients by stacey spensley
Photo Credit: Stacy Spensley via Compfight cc

And then there are tutorials – the presenters didn’t point to any specific ones, but I have no doubt there is a YouTube video or help file in the documentation of each of these platform showing you exactly how to do whatever it is you want to do. Like this beginner’s guide to Vine on Mashable, for example.

Finally, as with everything, you can remix and recycle things. Feature your Instagram photos in your newsletter. Set it up so that your Instagram content automatically posts to Twitter, too.

For myself, I decided to explore Instagram further – not so much as Lightbox, but as Andrea Bailey, just to become super familiar with the territory. If you are already on Instagram, please leave your username in the comments. I’d love to see what you share.

And as always, feel free to leave questions or your own insights, too.

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