If you start following inbound marketing trends, you’ll be amazed by how much changes in 12 months. 2015 was no exception.

Last year saw the rise of visual content marketing in social media. All the major social networking websites, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, saw a significant increase in the social engagement of brands that practice visual marketing.

But as Curalate has reported, only 7 percent of marketers feel confident about their current visual content marketing plans. With that in mind, we’ve got eight tips to improve your visual content marketing plans for social media in 2016.

visual content marketing

1. Create visual content that rocks

The best way to be visible on any medium is with content. Social media demands you create and share unique content, including photographs, videos, infographics, hashtags, and memes.

Adding images and photos to your social media posts is the most way to optimize them. 66 percent of all social media posts are made of, or include, images.

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Visual content doesn’t have to burden your pocket. Free and low-cost apps and resources, such as SlideShare, Abode Photoshop Express, and Pablo by Buffer are readily available.

2. Personalize your content

Spraying the same content across platforms is so last year.  Today’s marketers take the features, demographics, and capabilities of each social media platform into account to generate a different type of engagement.

Even B2B marketers are taking this point seriously when they showcase their stories. General Electronics is a good example. It personalizes its strategies for different platforms, keeping in mind its basics: science, technology, and innovation.

GE helped raise awareness for science among youths on the social media platform Vine with its six-second DIY lessons. Taking it a step further, the company hosted a virtual science fair on Tumblr.

3. Be useful

If you want your content to better engage your customers, give them useful information.  Listen to your audience when you’re shaping your visual content. Take hints from frequently asked questions and popular conversations topics on internet forums, as well as current events and issues.

One example of useful visual content is the BBC 15-second news clips on Instagram’s video news service, Instafax. It’s a smart move to deliver timely, useful content to its busy audience.

4. Entertain your audience

Your visual content should hold the same values and relevance as your textual content. But your visual content also needs something to make it share-worthy and likely to engage… and that is fun.

A new Adobe study found that more than 35 percent of millennials prefer entertaining content to accurate content.  Entertainment value is a major reason why people share content. It both inspires and entertains.

5. Define a style for your brand

Create a unique style for your visual content. It will give your brand a voice of its own. Then your target audience will easily identify you by your visual flair. Famous brands know how to do this right. Red Bull based its brand identity on the style of its ads.

Focusing on the appropriate style for each social media platform is another must. Find out where most of your target audience socializes and then craft visual content that fits that particular social media platform.

Facebook and Instagram users respond to personalized photos, quotes, funny videos, and product images. Pinterest users like to see colorful, saturated images. A tweet with a photo URL gets retweeted 35 percent more engagement than text-based tweets.

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Your competition can help you. Monitor your competition’s posts and tweets and see which gets the best response. Use that style in your posts too, but put your own spin on them.

6. Make the most of your visuals on social media

Sharing visual content will activate your social media pages, but these strategies will take your visuals to the next level.

  • Actively use Pinterest, Instagram, and other visual social media platforms and then share your posts to Facebook, Twitter, and the other social media sites you use.
  • Take time to create or choose a profile picture that conveys your brand message and vision (this is particularly important for your Facebook Timeline cover photo).
  • Invest in easy-to-use tools that include features you need. Then get into the habit of creating and sharing visual content.
  • Find good sources for visual content curation to augment your content creation schedule.
  • Get into a routine of creating one- or two-minute videos to share on social media.

7. Share previews of your content

Work on the principle of the show, don’t tell. Share visual snippets and previews of your content in addition to your images, videos, and photos.

Snippets and previews will peek your audience’s curiosity. They let your audience know what to expect when clicking on one of your links.

One such eye-popping example is Jean-Claude Van Damme split between a pair of trucks for Volvo. The stunning visuals helped bring in 1 million views within a week of the video’s release.

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8. Crowd source

Crowdsourcing is a great shortcut to creating engaging videos. Find a fun way to ask your followers and audience to share their visual experiences with you. This guarantees you’ll engage your users in a personalized way. And when users directly interact with a brand, it will build trust.

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An example of good crowdsourcing is Marc Jacobs “Cast Me Marc.” Users who posted a photo with their friends on Instagram that included the hashtag #CastMeMark were entered in a contest to get a chance to model for the brand. It was an instant hit among young people, who hashtagged it over 110,000 times in its first round.

Inbound Marketing Lead Gen