Using effective imagery is a big part of the marketing process. By combining images with useful information and conveying your brand, you'll be well on your way to building an engaged community of followers.

Visual content is one of the most effective ways to communicate. An idea conveyed successfully via graphics will captivate an audience more effectively than text will.

For example, compared with Facebook posts and tweets that don't have visuals, visual posts on Facebook receive 53% more likes, and tweets that contain images receive double the retweets.

By choosing the correct images and applying appropriate filters and other graphic techniques, you can engage social media followers and increase their numbers.

Use an appropriate style to attract your customer

When people see any of your visual content marketing, you want them to immediately identify your brand. Create a visual style that sets you apart and targets the consumer base you are trying to reach. (Check out Canva's new branding and design e-book, a beginner's guide to building a brand.)

After the fashion conscious? Create stylistic social graphics that speak to fashionistas. Research the typefaces, colors, and filters that are popular within that industry. If you are aiming for a younger generation, keep your imagery energetic and exciting. Members of Gen Y don't stop, so keep your content fresh and compelling.

To help build brand recognition through consistency, it might pay to create a template that you can duplicate and edit.

That's what Scandinavian-style magazine Kinfolk has done. It's more than a publication, it's a lifestyle. Nordic imagery of scenery, interiors, hospitality, and all that is cool in the Nordic-sphere. Its specific style is a mix of washed-out, ashy tones and dark, desaturated imagery.

And Nasty Gal, an online Vintage clothing site, is moving mountains with its 1.5 million followers on Instagram.

Each post receives hundreds of comments and likes, in large part because Nasty Gal caters to its audience by sharing well-styled photos of its clothing, along with action shots of models and celebrities wearing its apparel, which creates a shopping experience for customers—via social media.

Follow and like

Find influential users whom you would like to be affiliated with, and follow and like their content. Use hashtags similar to theirs as well as popular ones to ensure your images come up in industry and generic search results.

Including just three hashtags on your Instagram posts can increase your number of likes on that individual post by up to 110%, Piquora says. The more relevant content there is in your visuals, the easier it is to hashtag. Piquora also claims that users are drastically underusing hashtags, and that they should be using seven hashtags as a general rule.

The Body Shop uses bright and exciting Instagram images of its products. It has color-coded ranges that it teams up with corresponding-colored fruits to create visual interest. What unique aspects of your brand can you harness?

Use content automators to auto-schedule

There are amazing tools you can use not only to schedule all your graphics to post at specific times but also to autoschedule—so you can get ahead by ensuring all your content is planned.

Coshedule, Buffer, Hootsuite, Latergramme, and TailwindApp offer many features, including analytics and a text editor that allows you to save drafts and prepare for scheduling.

Use the correct image dimensions for each network

Every social network has different image dimensions that work best. Pinterest posts, for example, are long (tall) and have proven successful when posted at that size.

When you post on Facebook, if you intend to promote the post, text should constitute less than 20% of the image. That includes any text in your logo. Use the Facebook tool to check whether your graphic passes the test.

If you are creating your graphics on Canva (where I work), we have a tool that you can use to measure how much of your graphic is text:

  • Search for "20% text rule."
  • Drop text grid onto your graphic.
  • Check to make sure all your text fits into five boxes only.

Find good places for shareable content

The key social media tactic is shares, and the more visually appealing your graphics the more likely they will be reposted and shared among other networks as well.

Group Boards on Pinterest are a great way to cross-pollinate your content. Use sites such as PinGroupie to easily find group boards on Pinterest that are relevant to your industry or product.

You can search for titles or description keywords; the site lets you know the category, how many collaborators there are, and how many people follow the board so you can choose which is the most valuable board for you to join.

Different people like different social networks

Not everyone likes the same social channels. Find out which customers like which social network so you can tailor content to them.

"Young adults, while remaining active on Facebook, are signing up for new social media channels. Over half of all young-adults (53%) aged 18-29 are using now actively Instagram, whereas only 11% of adults aged 50-64 and 6% of seniors aged 65+ are using the platform," according to Ashtan Moore of McBD.

Instagram, a highly visual network, is becoming increasingly popular, helping to prove that graphics are leading the way in social media.

Make it evergreen and timely

A content production strategy is vital. How will you serve each network's unique requirements and deliver great content for your audience?

Evergreen content is information that is useful to people over a long period of time. It either inherently doesn't get outdated or you update it regularly; accordingly, it will result in a constant flow of traffic to your page over time.

Being timely means that you know what's going on, what's trending, and what your customers are looking for. It's recent and it's new. This sort of content is best placed in a News section, or otherwise categorized as news, so people don't confuse it with other content.

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Have you been able to grow your community with visuals? Share your tips in the comments below!

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image of Poppie Pack

Poppie Pack is Canva's senior graphic designer, responsible for the designs you'll see on Canva's social media channels. She has written a design and branding guide for Canva's design school, with tips for creating your own brand.