Cassie Dull is the online communications specialist at Park Tudor School, an independent school in Indianapolis, Indiana.
If you look at the ever-changing Facebook layouts during the past few years, you will notice an ever-growing emphasis on one thing in particular: pictures. Back when it was “The Facebook,” there was one tiny space for a profile image. Now with the Facebook timeline, practically everything “above the fold” on your page is a picture. Images are becoming increasingly more and more important in online media. Seeing the big picture now?
Last week at the Blog Indiana conference, I listened to Allison Carter from Roundpeg, a local, Indiana marketing company, discuss the finer points of executing a visual content strategy. Her message was simple: you need to use pictures in your online and social content if you want your readers to pay attention.
Think about how you browse through your Facebook news feed: you’re more likely to notice the photo of Michael Phelps at the Olympics than the status congratulating him on his 19th medal. Not only do people notice pictures more often, but they also engage more—liking, commenting and sharing visual content more than any other post type on Facebook.
Every good social media strategy needs to incorporate a visual content strategy. With the rise of image-based social media channels like Instagram and Pinterest, you seriously need to consider how you’re using images in your social media content and how you can use images to stand out from the crowd and tell your institution’s story. Having a visual content strategy doesn’t necessarily mean you start pinning dorm room decorations and snapping hipster photos of the cafeteria’s spaghetti and meatballs. It does mean that you need to start thinking about how visuals can improve your social content and how your online content appears when people share it on social media.
How to grab readers’ attention with images:
- Post images on Facebook and put the status update or link in the caption. Your status and link are still there, but your content is more prominent in the news feed.
- Mix text with images. Write your headline over an image. This is an excellent strategy for Pinterest because when people pin your content, that graphic lets people know exactly what the post is about.
- Use pictures of people. People like faces. Show off your students, faculty, alumni and sports fans. Show a slice of real life at your institution.
- Use a series of images to show a process or tell a story. A weekly photo from the archives can be really engaging for alumni and it’s a chance to tell your story to current students and parents.
- Ask your fans to share. You don’t have to be the only one posting photos. Ask your fans to share pictures from events or showing their school spirit around campus.
- Capture the moment. You don’t need expensive equipment to use pictures effectively. Just pick up your phone, snap a picture and share it.
What ways are you using images to improve your institution’s social media content?