10 Mistakes in Your Visual Content Strategy [+ Tools to Fix Them!]

Even if your team has a talented graphic designer and skilled digital strategists, crafting and sharing visual content on social media is a tricky process.

Most teams have run into the same difficulties. Images and videos may not generate the type of engagement you’re after. Followers may even miss your intended message.

But when done right, visual content has too much potential to ignore. Posts with images get 18% more clicks, 89% more likes and 150% more retweets on Twitter alone, according to a 2013 Buffer study.

So when the creative process takes its toll and you debate whether visual content is impressive enough to share, remember what the late Jim Henson said about design:

Jim Henson - Mistakes in your Visual Content Strategy

With that in mind, here are 10 mistakes you’re making when creating and sharing visual content on social media (and tools to help):

1. Ignoring Your Website

Updating the visual content on your website should play a role in your social media strategy.

That’s because brands like yours aren’t the largest sharers of images and videos – regular users are.

Almost 50% of adult Internet users share visual media they find when browsing websites, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center study. To boot, research from Curalate states 85% of the average brand’s Pinterest presence comes from off-board user activity:

Pinterest Engagement Curalate 10 Visual Content Mistakes

By not including high-quality visuals – including headers, screenshots and tutorial images – you’re missing a chance for third-party promotion.

The Tool: WordPress

The Price: Free to $299 per year

Almost a quarter of the websites you visit run on WordPress, according to the company’s data.

Along with thousands of themes to choose from, there’s a collection of publishing and media management tools to post and optimize visual content. This makes it easier for visitors find and share your photos and videos.

2. Posting Similar Images too Frequently

Stock images with inspirational quotes may earn a click from a few followers, but your visual content strategy is limited if it’s based on continuously sharing the same kinds of pictures.

To increase engagement, add these visuals to your content stash:

  • Screenshots: Educational pictures of your product or service in action, like this one:

Donald Trump Tracker

  • Infographics: Visualizations of data or other helpful information – typically long, but can be short and to-the-point for social
  • Preview Images: Graphics that give a sneak peek at news, events or content
  • Comic Strips: Cartoons, whether funny or informative, that support your messaging  
  • Photography: Photos that add life to visual content strategies filled with graphics – can be stock or original
  • Memes: Popular image macros edited to bolster your post or reflect your brand – can certainly give your follower’s laugh
  • GIFs: Looping clips that are funny and relevant to earn likes and shares
  • Video Clips: Videos from YouTube, Periscope and other platforms embedded in your posts

The Tool: Canva

The Price: Free! (But certain icons and elements have low fees)

This online image creation suite makes design easy with its intuitive interface. It gives you a library of layouts, illustrations, grids and photographs to play with.

You can keep it simple, or use filters and play with your creation’s hues and contrast:

Photo Editing

FYI: This blog post’s header image was made with Canva.

3. Leaving Out CTAs

Leaving out a call-to-action (CTA) in your copy or image is a common mistake that hinders interaction. Followers often need encouragement to share or comment.

The best CTAs are short and specific. They should also start with verbs (click) or adverbs (quickly), according to research from Dan Zarrella:  

CTA Infographic

The Tool: Canva

The Price: Free! (But certain icons and elements have low fees)

Instead of learning to use another tool for text editing, you can stick with Canva.

It has an impressive collection of designs to highlight your CTA, along with simple and stylish typefaces. You can also input an RGB code to make sure your copy is the perfect colour.

Canva 2

4. Going Overboard with Colour

A design with too much white space can look bare, but a busy colour palette creates its own problems. That’s because using too many bold tones makes images feel cluttered, and pairing oversaturated hues strains the eyes.

Just take a look at this page:

Bad Webpage

You probably don’t know where to look, right?

To avoid visual content that confuses your audience, stick to two or three colours and tints. Set on a neutral background tone, your choices should have enough contrast to pop and separate from each other.

The Tool: Paletton

The Price: Free!

Drag Paletton’s colour wheel cursor to create one-, three- or four-tone schemes.


A palette will update on the right of your screen, giving you a look at how well your main colour matches with the opposing or complementary ones. Just click on a box to see its RGB code, and design away in your image editor of choice!

5. Thinking All Typefaces are Created Equal

Choosing the right typeface can be the deciding factor in whether an image is legible or shareable.

Thankfully, there’s a straightforward rule to follow more often than not: use a sans-serif typeface for digital. Sans-serif is the digital standard because our eyes typically struggle to process serifs – small strokes and squiggles added to letters – on computer and mobile device screens.

For example, copy in Times New Roman – a serif font – is slightly harder to scan than Calibri – a sans-serif typeface:

Roman vs Calibri

But beyond following this simple rule, pairing fonts together can be tricky.

The Tool: Type Genius

The Price: Free!

Type Genius was programmed to take on this design challenge.

A simple but effective tool, just select the typeface you want to start with. Then click the “View Matches” button to generate options for accompanying fonts.

Problem solved!

6. Disregarding the Platform

Ever see images that look poorly shot, cropped or designed on a brand’s social account?

To optimize your images and make them pleasing to followers’ eyes, you must resize them for each platform.

Twitter needs these dimensions:

  • Profile Picture – 400 x 400 pixels
  • Header Photo – 1,500 x 500 pixels
  • Images in Tweets – Dimensions must maintain a 2:1 ratio

For Facebook:

  • Profile Picture – 168 x 168 pixels
  • Cover Photo – 828 x 315 pixels
  • Shared Image: 1,200 x 250 pixels

For Instagram:

  • Profile Picture: 110 x 100 pixels
  • Shared Photo: 640 x 640 pixels
  • Thumbnails: 161 x 161 pixels

Pinterest looks best with these dimensions:

  • Profile Picture: 165 x 165 pixels
  • Board Display Image: 222 x 150 pixels
  • Expanded Pins: 600 pixel min. width

The Tool: Pablo by Buffer

The Price: Free!

Instead of remembering all those numbers, you can just use Pablo for sharing simple images.

Along with a library of pics and typefaces for your basic creation needs, the online tool will also optimize the size of your pictures for Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook:

Size Optimization

7. Neglecting the Rule of Thirds

Neglecting the rule of thirds can hurt the ascetic of your images. A foundational concept in photography, it also applies to videos you shoot and many graphics you design.

By following the rule, your visual media will sync with how our eyes naturally scan images.

Just place a tic-tac-toe board on a picture you’re editing. Then put its key elements at a point where the lines intersect, like so:

This image is taken from this Shutterstock blog post.
This image is taken from this Shutterstock blog post.

Notice how you focused on the deer, instead of the sky or field? That’s the rule of thirds at work.

The Tool: Photoshop, or any of the best alternatives

The Price: Various

Most popular image editing tools include a way to create a tic-tac-toe grid. Once you’ve made one, just edit your image according to the rule.

The result is an aesthetically-pleasing picture for your followers!

8. Overlooking the Fibonacci Spiral

Think of the Fibonacci Spiral as an advanced alternative to the rule of thirds. A way to lead the viewer’s eye from a picture’s focal point outwards, it mainly applies to framing photos and video shots.

Fibonacci 1

The focal point of the spiral should align with the focal point of your picture. In the case above, it’s in the top right of the frame. However, it can also be flipped to the left and the bottom.

From there, the human eye will naturally follow the spiral when scanning the frame.

Here’s an example from a Gizmodo blog post:

Fibonacci 2

The Tool: Sensor Camera

The Price: Free!

Using the spiral isn’t easy for beginner photographers, but there’s an app for that. Sensor Camera automatically adds the spiral to your frame as you take a picture, so you can get the perfect shot every time.

Fibonacci 3

9. Misrepresenting Your Brand

You don’t have to use a logo to properly represent your brand. In fact, this can sometimes add clutter to your images.

But without it, some social media accounts post content that lacks a clear connection to their products or services. Doing so can leave followers scratching their heads.

Visual content should reflect:

  • What your brand stands for
  • Your brand’s unique or differentiating values
  • The topics your audience is interested in

After all, these three factors are probably why fans follow you.

Take this image from Red Bull’s Instagram account as an example:

It shows Red Bull’s connection to extreme stunts and appeals to its high-energy audience. As a result, the picture perfectly represents the brand’s reputation.

The Tool: Ingenuity

The Price: Hard work to understand your brand and audience

There isn’t a single, all-encompassing tool to create and share visual content that reflects your brand.

It takes know-how, research and curiosity.

Pro-Tip: When starting a role as a social media marketer, read as much as you can about your new client or company. This includes websites, news articles and social media blogs. Ask your boss if there’s a set of guidelines to follow, and look into which posts have yielded the most engagement.

10. Forgetting to Measure Results

Don’t stay blind to what’s working and what’s not. Ignoring metrics is the first step in running a social media account that doesn’t generate engagement or website traffic.

Based on data, tweak your visual content approach based on:

  • Composition
  • Posting Time
  • CTA
  • Hashtag Use

After some testing, you’ll discover the best design and posting strategies.

The Tool: Buffer

The Price: Free to $2,550 per year

Buffer is a popular social media scheduling tool, but it also tracks the numbers behind your posts.

For example, it measures the likes, retweets, mentions and clicks each tweet earns. It also tracks potential – the number of people who could have viewed a tweet based on who shared it, the hashtags you use and your number of followers.

Tools to Measure Social Media Analytics

Avoid these 10 common mistakes when it comes to creating and sharing visual content, and your engagement should steadily rise.

Who knows – you may even find yourself in a case study about how to successfully leverage images and videos on social media!

Keyhole is a real-time conversation tracker that provides keyword and hashtag analytics for Twitter and Instagram. Get started for free and search your brand now.

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