The social media landscape is an ever changing one. New strategies and tactics are constantly being employed in an attempt to grab and retain audience engagement.

Social media marketing is no longer a tool that we are only just starting to learn about and experience. We now know which basic principles work and which don’t. The tactics we are using however, are evolving as quickly as the pace of technology and the interest of our audience demands.

One fact which we do know for certain, is that audiences tire quickly of the same approach.  As marketers, we are continually pressed to find new and innovative ways to engage our network.

The Trend NOW: Visuals and shorter posts

Standing out among the hundreds of posts audiences see each day is a challenge, so anything that grabs attention and can be remembered in seconds – is what will work right now.

If you want to be future forward, start using short form video in your social media strategy. For more information on that you can read our earlier post Shouldn’t you be Pioneering Short Video in South Africa.

But if you’re looking for a simple approach that is relatively easy to incorporate into what you’re already doing, then we would recommend that you consider creating interesting, visual based content on your social media pages.

Facebook and Twitter – in the lead

According to Social Media Examiners’ 2013 Social Media Marketing report, Facebook and Twitter remain the two most commonly used social media platforms for business. Following these is LinkedIn. Each of these three platforms requires a slightly different approach as the type of person who uses each one, differs in their taste, general interests and attention span.

Look at what people are responding to

Pinterest and Instagram are two examples of newer, but increasingly popular social media platforms which have something very particular in common – they’re both based on the sharing of visuals.

People are bombarded with an incredible amount of information today. This makes them highly selective and discerning, but also strapped for time when it comes to absorbing information.

Visuals make it easy for people to grasp your message quickly and in a more memorable manner.

Take a look at Socialbakers most recent (June) report on Facebook brand engagement in South Africa. The three most popular posts each included a colourful visual with some introductory text.

Our own experience corroborates with this trend. We find that when we post special offers in the form of a visual, as well as ensure that photos accompany our text based posts, we see far more engagement from those posts.

So there is no doubt that social media posts need to be more creative, imaginative and need to be constructed with some forethought in order to be successful.

So how do you achieve maximum interest using visuals in social media?

Because Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular platforms, we will focus largely on these, as well as LinkedIn which is continually growing in popularity in South Africa.

Across these mediums, it is clear that at the very least, one must support a text based post with an image. As we’ve said however, it is imperative for brands to ensure that they stand out. To achieve that, we would recommend the following:

1.       Create a new banner / background every month

Customised Facebook banners, LinkedIn banners and a background for your Twitter page can help you introduce a theme and promote special offers and points of interest. Updating your cover banners and backgrounds could be done monthly, following a focus point for your business. This will keep your page looking fresh and interesting.

If you don’t have access to a graphic designer, try using these online tools to create your customised themes: Facebook |

2.      Use Personalised Photos

Our own experience reveals that the highest engagement levels have been achieved when clients share news and photos about their company activities and their people. Most of us are intrinsically nosy, so by posting a photo showing your most recent staff braai, or perhaps an award that someone has won, you will not only engage those secretly nosy clients of yours, but also to inject your social media with something a little bit personal. Social media should enable your audience to get to know you and personalised messaging helps to achieve that.

3.       Create Monthly Themes

We touched on the creation of monthly themes in point#1. A theme should ideally run the course of a month at least. Without boring your audience to tears, by unearthing and touching on the variety of benefits, special offers or features that may apply to a product or service in your business, you help to educate your customer. You can also link themes to key events and seasons. In addition to creating these themed backgrounds and banners, be sure to use some humour, some fact and some incentive when crafting your daily posts. As an overall approach, this can enhance your marketing strategy immeasurably.

4.       Use Apps to Create Stunning, Original Images

You don’t necessarily need to be a Photoshop whizz in order to create stunning images! There are plenty of apps out there that you can use on your iPad, iPhone, Android device or PC to add stunning effects to images. If they look funky and eye-catching that is all the impact that you may need to grab attention! Take a look some of the best photo editing apps from Best photo editing apps 2013.

5.       Add Captions to your Images

Instead of just posting text and an image to support that text, try adding a caption to the image itself. This can be very simply achieved in Microsoft Word if you don’t have graphic design tools on hand. Once you have added a text box containing your caption over your image, you can simply use the Snipping Tool on your PC, or Grab tool on your Mac to make the image – or Jpeg.

6.       Turn Stats & Detailed Info into Infographics

If you have detailed information to share, then why not consider sharing an infographic with your audience. Any research you have done or useful information that can help your audience will be well appreciated. There are numerous online tools you can use to create infographics for example: Infogram.

7.       Be Inspiring through Great Quotes!

We can all download quotes off the internet, but there is no doubt that creating your own version of a quote is infinitely preferable. You don’t even need to use famous quotes – why not consider using quotes that have been generated inside your own company? You can even take this as far as using pertinent parts of testimonials to enhance perception around a product or service. Here are some great tools to get you started: 4 great tools to turn quotes into content for social media.

As we said at the beginning of this post – social media marketing is continually evolving. While that may be scary to some, it can also be a welcome challenge to others. Either way, we invite you to join us on this exciting journey! So keep coming back to this blog to keep up-to-date about the latest trends in how best to approach your social media marketing!

For assistance in assessing, developing and rolling out your online marketing strategy, give Garth Dahl or Shiraz Khatib a call on 021 556 5661 or email us: Our marketing consultations are always free because we thrive on being a part of your success!

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