You don’t have to be a graphic designer to make your social media pop.
Here are five often overlooked ideas for creating more captivating feeds, no matter who’s following:
1. Reimagine images—embrace accessibility. Thirty percent of Facebook users identify as disabled, and 285 million Facebook users worldwide are visually impaired.
That means you can’t just post a flashy image if you want to be inclusive. You should also write vivid alt text, image descriptions and captions for screen readers.
CamelCase hashtags also help, says Carmen Collins, senior social media and talent brand manager at Cisco.
“That’s when you capitalize the first letter of each word in a hashtag,” she says. “A screen reader will read it with pauses between words instead of making it one word.”
A great (and infamous) case of not using CamelCase was #susanalbumparty.
“#SusanAlbumParty would’ve cleared up any, ahem, confusion,” she says.
2. Use emojis—within limits. “We’ve found that a single emoji can double our engagement for a LinkedIn post,” says Collins, “but everything in moderation.”
She warns against emoji misuse, especially when it comes to accessibility.
“For example, five taco emoji might mean you really like tacos,” Collins says, “but a blind person with a screen reader will just hear ‘taco taco taco taco taco.’”
3. Rethink text on images. Design trends are blurring the line between text and images. That could be a problem for the 90% of followers who engage on mobile, says Collins.
“Text on images looks tiny on mobile,” she says. “You’re giving people a reason not to have a ‘thumb-stopping moment’ with your content, because they can’t read it.”
It’s a bigger issue for disabled followers with screen readers. “Over 250 million people use them—and [the devices] can’t read text on images,” says Collins.
4. Track trends—don’t chase them. None of this means you shouldn’t surf the latest waves in graphics.
“Just be aware of the visual trends big brands are embracing, and take only what works for your audience,” says Ryan McCready, social media lead Venngage.
Where to look for the latest graphics trends?
“Behance is the main site I use to find the best new designers and trends,” he says, “but you can also spot visual trends on Twitter and Facebook. Brands tend to test new design ideas there before rolling them out across the rest of their marketing.”
McCready has been impressed with Spotify, Mailchimp and Adobe.
“They’re worth watching because they react to trends as they pop up,” he says, “but they do it without abandoning what makes them great.”
5. Revisit stock photos. We’re witnessing what McCready calls an “authentic stock photo renaissance.”
He says the real problem with stock photos is that people don’t use them properly.
“You can’t just attach an unedited stock photo to your Tweet and think it will be good anymore,” he says. “That just shows your audience that you don’t care enough about your content to create a better visual.”
Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and event producer. Ryan McCready (Venngage), Buddy Scalera (Novartis) and Amy Copperman (Adobe Spark) will share more visual insights in Ragan’s March 13 webinar virtual summit, “Stunning Graphics for Social Media.”