Visual Marketing: 12 Tips For Your Small Business Online

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I had the pleasure of delivering a workshop on Visual Marketing at the Women’s Inspire Event in October 2016. On the day I had about half an hour to share some tips. This blog post pretty much reflects the information in the slides I delivered on the day. Ok, so there’s one extra tip. More about that later.

So what is Visual Marketing online? It’s quite simply everything you do to represent your business visually whether that be images and graphics, animated GIFs, slideshows, video or live streaming. In half an hour we could only cover a limited amount, so I decided to keep it to mostly still images and graphics for this workshop. Below are the tips I shared, plus the bonus one.

1. Colour

Every logo and brand has it’s own distinct colours. That includes the logo for your small business. Do you know the colour identifiers for your brand colours? If not, now is the time to get them. A tool that I love to use to identify any colour on the screen is Eye Dropper. It’s a Chrome Extension and it works by telling you the precise hex number of a colour. Hex numbers appear like this : #01b0f1. There are probably two or three colours in your logo which you can use from now on for your Social Media posts, Blog posts and more.

2. Text

Again, your logo may contain a typeface or font that you can use elsewhere online. This will help you to remain consistent and be immediately recognisable by your customers and prospects. If you don’t know the font used, ask the original designer. They’ll be able to let you know. I used League Spartan in the title of the event everywhere.

3. Canva

Canva describes itself as ‘Amazingly Simple Graphic Design Software’ and I tend to agree. I am a real Canva Enthusiast, so much so that I even have it included in my Twitter Bio! Canva is a terrific tool for small business owners; it’s free and easy to use. I use the paid version, which allows me to resize my graphics for the various social networks. There is an app for iPad and iOS and the Android app is ‘in the works’ according to Canva. Sign up here to get a free account.


4. Facebook Cover

The cover image on your Facebook Business Page is probably one of the biggest pieces of screen space you have ‘above the fold’ anywhere online. It’s a good idea then to make the most of it! With the recent page redesign from Facebook, Business Pages are afforded a clean canvas to promote their businesses without any buttons, text or profile images in the way. You can use as much text as you like overlaid on the image. On the day Lilach Bullock gave a tip that Social Media covers should carry your web address. It was something I hadn’t thought of because it won’t be clickable, but I’ll still be adding mine from now on. During my workshop I recommended a size of 828 x 475 pixels as being a great size to use for your Facebook cover. This will be optimised for the mobile environment, which is now possibly more important than desktop, for Social media at least.


5. Blog Visuals

The visuals on your blog will help to enhance what you are saying, whether it’s a step-by-step guide or pictures from an event. It will also serve to break up the text. The ‘featured image’ you use is the one that will represent your blog when it’s shared onto Social Media, so make it good to encourage a greater click-through rate. The best blog header image size I find is 1200 x 628 pixels, which is the Facebook link sharing size.This will still look well on other networks including Twitter and LinkedIn. Every blog should carry a Pinterest size graphic also, even if you’re not on Pinterest. People may come to your blog and want to pin it. Make it easy for them to do so with a suitable graphic – sized 735 x 1102 pixel and styled exactly like the featured image so that the blog is easily recognisable everywhere. According to Sharaholic, Pinterest is the second largest driver of traffic to websites, only bettered by Facebook. I have placed the Pinterest graphic here so you can see what I mean. Experienced pinners will know that this this the one to pin.


6. Batches & Templates

It’s a great idea to do your graphics in batches at one sitting.  It will ultimately save you time. Equally useful are templates, such as these ones we used in the marketing of the event. I created the template in Canva and only had to change 3 things for each new speaker, their picture, their name and the title of their talk. I made over 25 of these! However, they were easily recognised in news feeds by users and attendees who instantly knew they were announcing a speaker for our event. We released one every day or so to maintain interest. Do you remember seeing these in your news feeds?


7. Facebook Text Overlay Tool

Until earlier this year Facebook would only allow a maximum of 20% text on images shared in Ads. It’s something which easily caught out small business owners when their ads were declined and they didn’t understand why. Now you’re allowed to place as much text as you like on Ads. However, there’s a penalty for using lots of text and what you’ll find is that you will get less distribution in the newsfeed and will ultimately be charged more. To prevent this, use the free Facebook Text Overlay Tool before you start to create a Facebook Ad.


8. Brand your Visuals

Branding your visuals online with your colours and fonts will boost your brand awareness. All visuals that are retweeted or shared will carry your branding with them out beyond your own immediate network. This is a no-brainer!


9. Facebook Debugger

This is a great little tool; again a free one. You can use it when you’ve just completed a blog post to force Facebook to find the image in the post before you post it onto Facebook. In this example the post had never been shared on Facebook before so it would have gone into the feed without the visual (after all my trouble creating one), as a text only post. It was sure to bomb. With the Facebook Debugger tool I was able to get Facebook to read the page and find the image before I posted it, ensuring that it had a much greater chance of being successful. You can also use this tool if you change the images on a blog.


10. Facebook Slideshow

With Facebook slideshow you can look extremely professional by producing a slideshow of pictures or graphics you have in your arsenal, or indeed new ones. It’s a great way for small business owners to produce a ‘video’ without making a video. It’s quite simple to do and you can also add music for even greater impact. This is one I made from four graphics that we had used in a Facebook Ads campaign. So the four middle graphics were already in our bank of visuals. I simply made the front and back covers and added the music. The trick here is to keep the proportions and shape of all the visuals the same.


11. Facebook Canvas

A new addition to Facebook, this is a little more involving and will take some work. It’s a mobile only experience for the user and it loads at lightning speed.  As you will see you can add images, video, carousels, buttons along with your own branded colours (which of course, you have now noted and put onto the noticeboard at work). I like the possibilities with Canvas and it may be a very useful tool for those who don’t have a website. You can also create Custom Audiences in Facebook from those who have engaged with your Canvas, but that’s another day’s work.


12. Free Stock Photos

Here is the bonus tip, which one of the Workshop attendees asked me right afterwards. A great question! Be warned that you may not use any image you like online. Many are copyrighted and you might land yourself in hot water. There are a raft of Free Stock Photo sites, but I recently came across Libre Stock. I call it the ‘Trivago for Free Stock Photos’. So it will search all the free photo sites for your perfect image.


I hope you got value from this. I’m now off to do two things. Firstly, I’m going to paste the URL of this article into Facebook Debugger to help Facebook find the image I want to use for social sharing. And then, I’m going to create new Social Media covers, to include my website…. on Canva, of course!

~Marie Collins

Marie Collins is a Digital Marketing Trainer and Consultant who operates in the Cork/Kerry area, and online. She holds a Level 8 Qualification in Digital Marketing from Cork Institute of Technology. Marie loves to help small businesses to achieve more online and uses #DMclicks as her hashtag to signify that Digital Marketing ‘clicks’ once her trainees, clients and readers begin to ‘get it’. Of course, ‘clicks’ is also a play on a very essential aspect of the online environment. Her business, DigiPulse Marketing, opened in 2015 and she is a member of Women’s Inspire Network.