The power of using social media to find and create images can be overwhelming. What image do I post? How can I get more followers when I don’t have animals or pretty pictures to share? All good questions. The fact is, no matter what your agency does you can find a visual way to tell your story and connect with people who care about what you do. It’s just helpful to think through the best way to tell your story, first. Whether it’s by video, still photos, GIFs, Infographics, etc or some combination multiple visuals, it helps to remember your goals. Here at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we’ve found a few key ways to use visuals and learn from our passionate communities.
Use images to empower others
When we hosted a large event called the Ivory Crush to raise awareness around the impact the illegal ivory trade has had on African elephant populations, we knew we wanted to create images around promoting the event. But we didn’t stop there. We also worked to create an image that included people who couldn’t be at the actual event. By thinking about what messages people may want to share in an effort to support our work, it allowed us to create something that was shared widely by people beyond the event.
Provide visual resources
We process visual information 60,000x quicker than written text. So when it comes to a way to quickly convey an educational message or discuss differences and dispel myths, visuals can be incredibly helpful. Just remember 508 compliance, it’s important to have great text to accompany visual elements in your communication, but when possible, use images to explain things clearly and succinctly. The following photos quickly showed the difference between black and turkey vultures from below.
Make the most out of images you do have
When your photos perform exceptionally well and gain attention, don’t stop there. Last year, one of our tweets from the Super Bowl featuring burrowing owls performed really well and started getting shared widely because it was clever and relevant. Instead of just accepting the tweet as success, we wrote up a blog post discussing burrowing owls and giving more context to the popular photo. This in-turn gave people more background on the wildlife, media a chance to share the image and discuss it more and us a chance to offer a resource that gave people more context.
Whenever I’m creating content to share on social media, I think about how I can acheive my goal through various forms of communication. Visual elements often are vital for grabbing attention, but can also be a great way to distribute quality information and inspire powerful reactions. By using infographics to display visual data, searching through GIFS, investigating tools that may make editing and sharing images easier, capturing lessons learned and continuing to notice how people consume content, we can all continue to communicate information more effectively and provide great resources and context for people.
Danielle Brigida is the National Social Media Manager for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).