Compelling Engagement with Visual Content: A Beginner’s Guide

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As we discussed here, visual content creation needs to be a priority for digital marketers in this year (and the foreseeable future). No one is downplaying the importance of text here, it’s just that images, photos and videos are much more effective in demanding attention and conveying quick information – especially when it comes to busy social media streams.

Similarly, improving engagement for your brand is also a major concern, and visual content is a perfect solution, provided you do it right. Most people think they can simply copy images from the web and reuse them to promote their own brand. That’s the first mistake.

Producing visual content that compels engagement isn’t too hard (not too easy either), but it pays off in the long run, especially if you formulate a plan and stick with it.

Originality comes first

Originality can never be overrated. If you are trying to compete in the online world (where everything is digital), you must stand out from the rest to make a mark. If you go through your social streams and feeds right now, you’ll probably see tens of different images and photos, and most of them you’ll be able to recognize – the effect? You won’t share them.

However, if you happen to come across something different and unique; something you hadn’t really seen used and reused before, you are much more likely to share or like it.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), there is no set formula for producing original visual content. It will all come down to brainstorming and experimenting, but it’s no rocket science either.

Check out the Grammarly card, it’s simple, classic, uses element’s which aren’t truly unique, but the final piece is original and engaging.

grammarly cards

Give it meaning

Meaning is as important as originality. There has to be a purpose behind every piece of visual content you create. Think of it as the purpose, the essence and the reason behind it’s creation. Your visual content can convey anything, but it must convey something.

While you might think this is a no-brainer, you’ll see several images on your social feed which are meaningless, unnecessary and only put up to stop scrollers. Even if your image does manage to stop someone for a second, if it doesn’t have any meaning, it won’t be shared, nor will it compel engagement.


life quote


What’s your goal?

Engagement can be of several types. You might need your audience to click on an image and be directed to a blog post or a sales page. Alternatively, you might want them to like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter or further share your posts so you can get more exposure.

In either of these case, there are different goals, which means your strategy for each piece of visual content also needs to be different. Whether you want a click, a like, a follow or a share, you need to put your goal at the top and then work your way down to figure out what kind of content will serve your purpose.


Why should they be engaged?

What are you offering? You are ready to create original content, you know the purpose behind it and you have your goals. But why should your audience care? What are you offering them? This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks and even if your content is visually appealing, it will fail to compel engagement if it doesn’t offer something your audience wants.

Some of the safest choices are:



We all like facts. They’re brief, to the point and add to our knowledge. However, if you share them textually, you won’t get as positive a response as you would if you did so visually, like the example below.

HIV Stats


Everyone loves good quotes. They’re safe choices, but if you overdo them, you run the risk of negating their effect. They are good choices if you are running out of other content or have items in the pipeline and need to put up something that will fill in the gap.


Personal quote



Infographics are the craze these days. They are visually appealing, they impart information and if designed well, can also add a bit of humor to the mix. A good infographic can go viral within days and give you an excellent return on investment. Check out the following example from j6design.

Infographic on Visual Content


Examples of great visual content

If you really want to scale your game and create something that checks all the boxes, you can take a look at the examples here.

First up is Mcdonald’s nightlight

mcdonald's ad

Now lets take a look an excellent piece of visual content by Quebec Automobile Insurance

Auto insurance ad

And finally, how can we skip talking about Coca Cola’s Tumbler?

coca cola's tumbler

The point in all these examples is that engagement through visual content has a few prerequisites. You need to create something appealing, but that’s not all it takes. You must have clear goals, you need to give the content meaning and offer something to your audience. If you can check all the boxes, as in the examples above, engagement will automatically follow.

Free tools to create visual content

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