reading time: 4 minutes While at Social Media Marketing World last month I was reminded at how important it is to incorporate effective visuals in your content. It’s a value-add that can really help get your stuff noticed. Not only should you use images on every single post (blog, socials, etc.), there are a few other tricks you can use for making your visuals more effective for driving engagement. Don’t worry, it’s not difficult. In fact, I am going to show you the basic steps for the final image I created for this particular blog post… and I have zero design skills. Here’s what I did: Start with a great image You have probably seen a lot of very basic stock photos used online… you know, the ones with super-smiley, very PC business people shaking hands or the stick figure guy holding up a sign that has your particular keyword emblazoned on it. Boring! Do yourself and everyone else a favor – forget those images and use something different. If you can swing original photography, that’s the best. If you don’t have your own pictures, here’s a fantastic list of free image resources from Reddit to help you out. Choosing the best image is often the most challenging part of the blog process. For this post, I ultimately chose the image below, from Raumrot. Why? 1) it’s free 2) it’s an interesting, beautiful shot 3) it reminds me of driving 4) it can help me portray the idea of driving engagement with better visuals. Voila! Brand it After finding a great image, too many people simply plop it into their blog and publish it. No, no, no! It’s worth the effort to take a few extra steps… like adding your brand to the image. Did you know that 90% of all info transmitted to the brain is visual? Adding your branding to an image is an amazing way of promoting your brand. 90% of all info transmitted to the brain is visual Click To Tweet For this post, I used the simple, online photo-editing tool, PicMonkey to edit the driving image. That’s right – no Photoshop skills required. Here are the steps: To add branding, upload the photo to PicMonkey. I used the Dusk effect on the image, which darkens the photo to help make my add-on content stand out. To add branding to my image, I used the Overlay feature. In this case, I added just Duran (our mascot guy running in our logo) to the upper left dashboard of the car. Subtle, but effective, wouldn’t you say? Ask a question Next, ask a question. Ideally this would be something that would cleverly tie your visual and written content together. For this example, I’m using the Text feature on PicMonkey to add, “Is your visual content driving clicks?” and I put it in all caps. Embed a call to action Here’s where you answer the above mentioned question with a compelling CTA. For my image, I’m using “Click for quick tips that boost engagement.” Also note that I had to move some things to make all the content fit nicely and still be easily readable. Fortunately, PicMonkey makes all of those adjustments easy. Add a hashtag Kim Garst mentioned at #SMMW15 how very rare it was for people to utilize a hashtag on their visuals. What a missed opportunity. As you can see in the next iteration of my image, I’ve added both a hashtag and some additional branding. In fact, I tweaked several things (CTA content, sizing, color, etc.) to keep the image appealing. Add to Pinterest So, after a few more tweaks, below is the final product. But wait! There is still more to do. The next step (once the image content has been posted online) is to add it to Pinterest. When doing this, it is important to write a long description with relevant keywords. Doing so will increase the likelihood of your post showing up in search results and getting shared. Of course, be sure that the image links back to your content too! So what do you think? Would you be more inclined to click on this image? Better yet, did you click on the image to arrive at this blog post? Let us know in the comments below!