Annette McDonald is a print, design, brand and advertising expert. She is an innovator who has changed the way the brand/client and designer process works. Annette is the Founder and Managing Director of Copirite Design Print Web Signage on the Gold Coast. Annette is also the Founder of Easil, an easy to use, drag and drop design tool that you can use to create extraordinary visual content for your business.
I admire and respect what Annette has achieved in both of her businesses. In this interview, Annette talks about the power of visual content and how it can boost your social media engagement.
In this interview, Annette talks about powerful visual content and social media engagement
Why is visual content important for building community engagement on social media?
Just about every platform is now super visual (even LinkedIn!), so it’s very important that you learn how to communicate and engage with visuals.
We are born to relate emotionally to visual content so it makes sense that it works. And besides, it catches attention and helps your community connect with you so it’s not only important; I think it’s vital.
Nothing evokes emotion more than images or video, so if you want to start a conversation with your community and engage with them – there are few tools better than visuals!
In what ways can businesses use imagery to tell their brand story?
One of the best ways to tell your brand story is to hand it over to your community by sharing their user-generated content (UGC). Nobody is better equipped to tell your story than your own customers. We will be focusing more on UGC as time goes on – the content created and shared by our community. Because that’s the real story of Easil.
When it comes to the content you create as a brand, imagery is a great way to tell your own brand story. I think it’s important to mix it up with static images and video.
I was listening to Donna Moritz speak from Socially Sorted and she was talking about how storytelling has changed in that it’s not just one story, but a whole bunch of stories, layered across social media. Users are engaging with stories in 10-15 second snippets, from Instagram Stories to Facebook Posts, using social video and images. Donna was also saying how we build trust over time by layering our stories across mediums and platforms where the users are hanging out, in the formats; they are most likely to engage with.
With that in mind, it’s important to think of your visual storytelling as an ongoing process, and mixing it up between images, video, infographics and more to tell your brand story. That way users can engage with the visual content on the platforms they are comfortable with. And of course… add UGC to that!
What types of visual content work well on social media?
Posting consistently with any type of media, be that still images, video or live feeds, all pay off. Do what works best for you and test what is right for your business and ROI.
Here are a few examples of visuals that are working well right now for our team at Easil:
- Shareable images – anything that we can process and engage with quickly. People still love beautiful photos, quotes, funny images on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
- Social Videos & GIFs – short social videos work extremely well on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, whether a mix of video footage, images in a slideshow or an animated GIF. This type of content is getting a lot of reach across all platforms as well as engagement from viewers. Use Square video for more real estate on newsfeeds! GIF’s are our latest obsession and we’re loving that some of our fellow tool makers are kicking goals with making things easier – ‘Planoly’ is a great tool to post GIF format directly to the Instagram feed, or even to Stories
- Infographics – Pinterest is still one of the biggest drivers of traffic back to websites. Long-form content on Pinterest does this very well and gets shared consistently over time. Any visual strategy should involve longer graphics on your website so Pinterest users can share it! We have a great selection of “Pinterest-Tall” templates on Easil for creating engaging longer graphics. Not super long infographic-length, but long enough to be eye-catching on Pinterest.
- Instagram Stories – With the recent introduction of the ‘Highlights’ section for Stories, I think this is the most exciting feature of Instagram. You’re now able to combine a wide variety of media into your story, but after all that effort you can save the best ones into your Highlight reels which have prime position on your profile.
Overall, ensure that whatever format you create provides value for your audience. And listen to them – they will tell you what resonates with them in terms of social shares and engagement.
Why did you create Easil?
The beauty of Easil is that it was born out of a true need back in 2014 because we knew that something needed to change between the brand/client and designer. Easil allowed us to:
- eliminate the waiting time/wasted time between client and designer (and death by email, back and forth!)
- provide a more efficient way for designers to work with design files
- provide high-quality design options to SMB’s so they could compete with larger, more established businesses with larger marketing budgets.
It’s not just another startup, but rather a functioning tool proven over many years of development and use with our own clients. We literally created Easil to help our clients have better workflow and to empower them to create visual content quickly and easily…. that didn’t look DIY!
Our mission with Easil has always been just that: to help brands create edgy, sophisticated marketing material so amazing it looks like you paid a Pro to design it.
How has Easil changed the graphic design process for small businesses?
What we have created with Easil is disruptive, but in a good way. It’s disruptive to the traditional processes between designer and client… that are just no longer efficient or workable.
We don’t live inside email anymore. Nor did we work 9 ’til 5. We have ventured out into cloud-based systems that allow better efficiency and communication. It just made sense for us to allow the client to work with the designer within the one tool. Easil was built to enable that, and both Designers and Brands/Clients LOVE it!
Taking it a step further, our DesignAssist services allow small businesses to work with the Easil Edge design team to create a series of bespoke or branded templates that they can then work with on their own – without any graphic design experience. You can lock in your branding while opening up freedom for your team to create visual content quickly and easily.
Easil provides businesses at any stage with a helping hand to get past that initial barrier of just getting started! We do it by providing templates that are fun (and easy) to work with, and this allows our clients to design visual content that looks like a pro designed it. We like to think that we are moving past “DIY Design” to “next-level” design for brands and designers alike.
What are the dos and dont’s for businesses creating their own visual content on social media? What should businesses be aware of?
- Be consistent. When you show up on a regular basis telling a story with visual content, your community will show up to share it with you.
- Create original visual content. The majority of content on social media is actually shared content (up to 80% on sites like Pinterest) so you stand out immediately if you create original visuals.
- Repurpose! Optimise, resize and re-use your content on various platforms and formats. You can take an infographic and turn it into individual images, tips or quotes or convert into a SlideShare presentation. Or you can take a blog post and turn it into a social video or social media post. The opportunities are endless. Just be sure you create content that is native or suited to the platform you want to post it on.
- Share the love! Share UGC (User Generated Content) whenever possible and tag those users – people love to feel valued and appreciated. It’s important though, to get their permission first before you share.
- …Share promotional graphics all the time. Visual Storytelling is all about sharing valuable content that entertains, engages and helps your audience. You need to provide value first before you monetize and if you fill your feed with promos, it will alienate your audience. Earn the right to promote with great content first!
- …Forget to give attribution for content you’re sharing that is not your own. With User Generated Content (UGC) becoming so popular it’s tempting to just share great content, but it’s important you do so legally. Be sure to get permission to share and then give kudos to the person you are sharing from by tagging and promoting them. Helping others is a great way to build beneficial relationships on social media, and you get the benefit of sharing beautiful visuals.
- …Be a cookie cutter and use design templates without changing them up! Change up the text, photo/image, colour or font (or more than one of these) and you can take a template design to something really custom (and really cool).
Where do you see social media in 10 years?
This is a difficult question to answer as there is so much that is changing so fast, but I think we will see a definite return (if we sway from it) to real, genuine, authentic content that is engaging and human. People don’t want to talk to bots and logos. They want to engage with humans – that’s why we call it social media.
So, no matter what happens with technology over the next 10 years (and it will be a LOT that happens) we need to stick to the core things that matter – adding value to our community, helping them and engaging with them.
At Easil, it’s our mission to help businesses create in-house creative that looks like a pro designed it (not DIY) but in doing so it allows them to create content in real time, and engage with their community. I think we will see a lot of great development in our tool that will enable teams to work efficiently to create amazing visual content in-house like they never have before.
You can connect with Annette McDonald and the team at Easil via the links below:
Easil Website: https://about.easil.com/
Copirite Website: http://copirite.com.au/
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