September has been and gone and we move into autumn – a time of year that can be visually stunning with the changes in the colours of trees and shrubs to their autumn browns and yellows.

Oct15_inset_contentWe associate these colours with autumn and this is often reflected in collections of clothes that are released around this time of year and the images we see in the media. This association between certain things and certain visual stimuli can be a powerful tool in the marketer’s arsenal and we can use it to produce engaging visual content on social media.

There has been a lot of research over the years into the way that our brains process visual information. For example, Gregory showed that 90% of visual information is lost by the time it reaches our brain so we fill in the blanks based on past experience and prior knowledge. We can use this in the design of our content by using obvious and meaningful headlines and captions to set expectations.

Also, because people expect to see certain TRAFFIC LIGHTcolours used in certain situations – traffic lights being an extreme example, don’t vary too much from the colours that people would expect.

There has also been extensive research into colour perception and the ability to remember information presented in different colour combinations. In 2011, Thomas Sanocki and Noah Sulman carried out a series of experiments; the results of which implied that people retain information better when it is presented using a limited palette of 2 or 3 harmonious colours. Bear this in mind when creating your content – use a limited range of harmonious colours as the overall theme and use contrasting colours sparingly.

The font or typeface used can also have a big impact on how people perceive your content. The work of Kevin Larson and Rosalind Picard showed that the font used affects how engaged the reader is with the work they are reading. It would take far more space than we have here to go into the detail of what makes for pleasing typography so we will save this for another blog post but there are some key points that are useful to the content marketer:

  • Use clear and easy to read font types – generally for content viewed on screen these are the sans serif fonts: aerial, verdana, Helvetica etc.
  • Space out your text and visuals, use white-space to separate characters
    Try not to place graphical elements in a way that will split paragraphs or sentences.
  • Certain fonts may be associated with certain things and this should be used for headlines etc.

So now you know how to show your content, what should you say to get the most engagement on social media?Oct15_inset_question

  • Visual content tends to attract more engagement than text alone. Colours and images can elicit an emotional response in the viewer and this is what leads to increased engagement.
  • On Facebook visual content representing shared experience (travel/events) does well
  • Product debuts and (you saw it here first) type posts attract a lot of engagement
  • Pairing a question and hash-tag with an engaging image can elicit the best response.
  • Use an image instead of text and let the user fill in the blanks
  • Be forward! Ask for opinions, questions and thoughts
  • Provide content that helps the reader and gives them value in return for taking the time to read it
  • Humour can be very successful but be careful how you use it. Sense of humour is a very personal thing.

So in summary if you want to produce the most engaging content, it should be helpful, original and not seen before elsewhere, visual – making use of a small palette of harmonious colours and using easy to read fonts, should represent shared experience and should be accompanied by a call to action – a question or request.

Please let us know what you thought of this post and share any tips that you might have in the comments.