The Basics of Visual Communication for Social-Media Marketers

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As an experienced social-media marketer, you may feel you know a lot already about visual content. But if you don’t know the basics of visual communication best practice, you may not be producing content that will truly convert your audience. 

People have used visual content to relay information through all of human history. Today, it’s just as relevant as ever in the world of social media and content marketing. As we define it, visual communication graphically represents information to efficiently and effectively create meaning. 

This post will cover 3 key elements of successful visual communication for marketing on various social platforms. By making all 3 elements part of your visual content strategy, you can help readers understand information quickly and clearly. 

Let’s take a closer look at these 3 points and why each is important.

1. Choose the right visual content for your needs.

There are a variety of forms that your visual content can take, so it’s important to choose the ones that will most serve the needs and goals of your project or campaign. When creating social content, there are several important factors to consider: 

  • Make sure the visual medium you choose is the best choice for getting your message across. If you want to share 1 key stat, a static mini-infographic might be the most engaging way to get the message out. But if you’re looking to tell a longer or less data-driven story, a motion graphic might be the better fit. One of the basics of visual communication is choosing the best medium for your message. 
  • Utilize the materials you already have to their utmost potential. Smart repurposing of content can make it go a lot further. For instance, if you want to encourage people to watch your new motion graphic, share a looping scene from this motion graphic in the form of a GIF (see example below).
  • Make sure you understand the types and limitations of visual content that can be posted on each social media channel. For example, video content durations can vary by platform — 60 seconds max on Instagram vs. 140 seconds on Twitter. More on that in the next section.

2. Optimize sizing for every platform.

When it comes to sizing your visual content for social media, it’s also important to make sure your images and videos are sized accordingly. Every channel is unique, and for that reason, you probably need to produce a few different versions of each piece of visual content you produce. Whether it’s header images or post images, there is, unfortunately, no standard size that works across all channels.

Make sure you stay up-to-date with major revisions to the standards for each channel. Social media platforms are ever-changing. Check out HubSpot’s “Bookmarkable Guide to Social Media Sizes” as a good reference.

3. Keep it simple.

We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again. Simple design works. Representing information simply and clearly is one of the basics of visual communication. Having simple and digestible content means that your readers won’t get stuck on complicated ideas or hung up on reading assignments disguised as infographics

Here are some ideas to help you plan simple, engaging visual content for your social media channels:

  • 1-stat micronarratives are a great way of sharing snippets of content that is either standalone or part of a larger piece of content, such as an infographic. The key to a successful micronarrative is that each stat or data point should be compelling and understandable all by itself. It’s an effective way to serve your audience content in a way that is not overwhelming and that fits the fast-paced social media environment. 
  • Create standardized color palettes for all of your social content. Simplified color palettes can ease the design decision making and keep all content assets cohesive — a plus if you have strict brand guidelines. The trick is deciding on palettes that work well with your brand and are flexible enough to give you some variety. In the end, you’ll be able to be more agile with your design process allowing more time to spend on other important needs to create a successful piece of content.

When you know the basics of visual communication, you’ll develop higher-quality content for your social-media channels. This, in turn, is sure to boost engagement in a world where stock images and DIY infographics are no longer enough to hold consumers’ attention. Try these 3 strategies today.

Eric Tra

Author Eric Tra

Eric Tra is the marketing director at Killer Visual Strategies. Originally from Spokane, Washington, Eric received degrees in marketing and fine art from Gonzaga University. After graduating, he moved to Seattle with the hopes of of pursuing a career in the city’s thriving tech community. Since earning a position at Killer Visual Strategies at the beginning of 2013, he has been at the forefront of all marketing activities within the company, including content strategy, lead generation, and social media management. Some of Eric’s other strengths in the office are geared toward internal project management; he currently leads the development of content pieces such as blog posts, ebooks, and more.

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