Shareable Visual Content: 8 Ideas from Cars.com at Social Media Week

Cars.com SMW

Every social media manager knows the value of visual content. According to Hubspot, Facebook photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 94% more click-throughs. The same is true on Twitter, where tweets with images get twice as many interactions.

But not all visual content is created equal. What makes a graphic or photo worth sharing on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms? We stopped by Social Media Week Chicago for “Making The Cut: How Cars.com Turns Auto Journalism into Shareable Social Content.” The content team from Chicago company Cars.com — including Social Media Manager Alissa Green, Creative Services Manager Angie Trigilio and Editor-in-Chief Patric Olsen — shared their process for formulating, producing and selecting visual posts.

Angie Trigilio, who handles design for the team, brought up several important considerations of “social design.”

6 Social Design Considerations

Credibility comes with consistency

“Everyone recognizes the Apple and Target brand before the commercial is over,” Trigilio said. “Fonts, colors, images, language and voice should be consistent throughout social design in order to build your brand.”

Consider using templates

Templates make that consistency a more turnkey process for everyone, especially the non-designers among us.

What if it goes viral?

There’s always a possibility that your content will go viral. Before publishing something, ask yourself whether the image will be recognizable if separated from the caption. All social design elements should include necessary information such as your logo and brand colors.

Reactive content works pest

The goal of all content should be to encourage interaction online. Trigolio pointed out that social deign that is both timely and relevant to your audience is more likely to spur that engagement.

Story should dictate design

“There is room for creativity, but let the story carry design,” said Trigolio. The story should come first, and the design should help tell that story in a way that works for specific platforms.

Visual content should be consistent, viral ready and reactive. But when it comes time to produce that content, what should it actually be about? How can brands possibly produce enough visual content to keep the pipeline full? Trigolio offered her top tips for thinking up shareable visual content concepts.

8 Starting Points for Shareable Visual Content

1. Use questions with easy interactive answers

Asking for long-form opinions works for some brands, but your safest bet on Facebook is to ask quick and easy questions that fans can answer with a “yes,” “no,” “true” or “false.”

2. Extend consumer campaigns

If you already have concepts in play on TV or in print ads, you can pull those same ideas into your social content, like Cars.com did with their “no drama” campaign.

3. Mix with trends

Pulling in trends and pop culture makes your content more relevant to fans. For example, Cars.com pulls in the “Keep calm and carry on” meme as well as the always-popular Shark Week.

4. Celebrate Milestones

Big brand accomplishments are fun and easy to recognize on social platforms. Cars.com does this whenever they reach goals such as 200,000 customer reviews, as seen below.

5. Celebrate editorial awards

The Emmys and Grammys aren’t the only award shows out there. If you’re short on content, consider creating editorial awards of your own, like the “best of” in a product category, or “top 10 thought leaders.” Below, Cars.com  recognizes the “most polarizing” cars in the industry, which makes for a full series of visual content.

6. Repurpose content

If you’re already producing content, you might as well repurpose it for social platforms. In the post below, Cars.com pulls an impactful quote from an editorial review and matches it with a nice visual. Trigolio recommends keeping these clips short, from six to eight words and two lines maximum.

7. Share segment tips

Useful content is share-worthy content. Share quick and dirty tips with users in the form of a visual, but be careful not to make tips so obvious that you’re talking down to fans.

8. Highlight high end photography

High quality photography makes all the difference in the world when it comes to visual content. Cars.com has photographers on staff as well as industry images at their disposal, which really elevates the quality of their visual content.