Whether we want to admit it or not, when you're on a visual platform like Instagram or Pinterest, you focus more on what is being seen more than what’s being told.
You may (or may not) be asking yourself, "Whaddaya mean? Isn’t social about sharing news, thoughts and updates with my loved ones??"
Well, sometimes. But are your beloved friends and family really reading those carefully-crafted captions? In 2018, the recorded average attention span for a human decreased to a whooping 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. (Y2K: the turn of the century and the evident death of the human focus!)
Whether you’re editing a sweet photo of your new baby puppy to post to Instagram or drafting fundraising appeals for your supporters on all your channels, know this: the average US consumer is spending about 3½ hours on a mobile device nowadays, almost half of that time spent on social. So you might as well show them your purtiest content to make them stop scrolling and pay attention! Start with these quick tips.
If you squint, you must acquit
One of the fundamental principles of visual design is visibility and legibility. Whether you’ve got text designed in a snazzy infographic or placed delicately on top of a photo, always make sure that text is easy to read on both your desktop AND your mobile device, and that it stands out. Avoid using those overly-complicated, swirly, silly fonts & opt for bold fonts that distinguish your content from others.
In other words: If your 85-year-old grandmother can’t see it WITH her readers on, it’s the wrong choice.
Not sure what fonts to choose? Jump on Pinterest and search for font pairings; there are tons and tons of examples to sift through, that will show you if that edgy and whimsical font can work or if you need to go with something… else.
And revisit our handy guide to Brand Fonts while you’re at it! There are stellar tips in here from DC-area designers, too.
Color! Color! Color!
There are hundreds and hundreds of studies on colors and how they directly affect consumer buying behaviors, so it’s safe to say that color is a huuuuuge part of effective visual marketing (and our daily lives in general!).
You might remember this nugget from our guide to Brand Colors: Brand Expert Fiona Humberstone’s approach breaks down color choices into personalities and seasons. If it’s new to you, read this piece on essentials of color psychology, and use her handy definitions to pick the season that resonates the most with your brand. Here are the essentials:
Spring: warm, approachable, creative, fun, inspirational with light, bright, warm, and clear colors
Summer: romantic, graceful, elegant, organized with delicate, cool, and muted colors
Fall: earthy, organic, rusty, community with warm, intense, and muted colors
Winter: dramatic, compelling, luxurious, focused with bright, intense, clear, and cool colors
So you’ve got the right background photo combined with the right colors & design elements ready, pre-loaded into Instagram with the perfect posting time scheduled for maximum engagement, and you’re about to press Publish.
Remember how we were just talking about visual harmony? Well, it applies to your social media profiles too. Think of all of your content as part of a storybook, even across different platforms; your visuals are related enough through font choices and color choices to tell a consistent story about your brand, and feel familiar to your audience no matter what piece of content or what channel they're on first. Use a scheduling tool to visualize how your content will look on your social media channels before it goes up:
Tailwind is a great visual marketing application for Instagram and Pinterest. Users can access related content for inspiration from other profiles, as well as schedule content and measure engagement in real-time, while planning content in advance.
Later, marketed as the ‘#1 Platform for Instagram’ (great marketing), provides multiple tools for pre-planning and posting Instagram content, including visual content calendars and the ability for users to quickly import photos into a mock-feed to effectively generate visual aesthetic.
UNUM, like Later, also gives users the ability to plot out content with a mock-grid of instagram content. Users are given the opportunity to import their existing feed to assist with visual ideation, as well as the ability to grid-shift in real time to see how the feed will exactly look when posted. Unlike Tailwind & Later, UNUM does not give the ability to directly post to instagram, makes up in price (free!) and UX capabilities.