Most small businesses who are using social media have a Facebook page, but many business owners and social media managers are facing a problem: Facebook has been making it harder and harder for small to medium-sized businesses to make an impact with their business page.

Today it’s next to impossible to avoid using Facebook’s paid advertisements if you want to get ahead. While boosting posts and creating targeted ads works really well for Facebook marketing, what if you don’t have a large budget for paid advertising? You need a strategy for creating Facebook posts that are so innately sharable that you get solid engagement organically—without spending a dime.

Enter visuals. Take a look at your Facebook newsfeed. Chances are, you will see something like this:

Photo 1

Or maybe something like this:

Photo 2

Notice the views? 1,258,541 to be exact.

These are the kinds of things that are shared and engaged with on Facebook—quick, easy to take in visuals that appeal because they are humorous or emotional. Of course, this does not mean that links to blog posts and longer articles can’t get engagement on Facebook. If the content is great, they can. This means that funny or inspirational images or videos are more likely to be liked, commented on, and shared organically.

So, where do you find these visuals?

Memes, gifs, videos, visual quotes, and other visual content is everywhere—you probably see it every time you sign into Facebook. But can you use that ubiquitous visual content for your own business page?

Let’s say you sign on to Facebook and see a really great post in your newsfeed. 

Photo 3

You laugh. You know others who see it will laugh too. This is just the kind of visual content you’ve been looking for! Excitedly, you click the share button and immediately post it to your business’s Facebook wall. Done. Now you wait for the likes to come in.

And they probably will. But you’ve just opened yourself up to liability without even realizing it.

Wait. What?

Yeah, that Someecard doesn’t belong to you and they have pretty strict terms of use when it comes to posting one of their eCards on corporate social media accounts.

Let’s take a closer look:

Photo 4

If you use one of their cards on your business’s Facebook page—even a card you create yourself on their website—you could be putting yourself in uncomfortably hot water:

Photo 5

The good news is that there are thousands of memes, gifs, and other visual content already out there, but you need to be aware of copyrights and terms of use, and these can be hard to find. If you see a funny meme somewhere on the internet, you’ll probably have a tough time tracking down the original creator. Not everyone will come after you for it, of course. If there’s a well-known meme or gif that’s been shared over and over again, you’ll probably be safe posting it on your page. But there are no guarantees. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to live in the land of “probably.”

If you run a risk when using un-sourced visual content, what are you supposed to post on Facebook?

Remember the plagiarism rules you had to strictly adhere to at school? You might have been honest—but what about those few students that took the risk, thinking they could outsmart teachers or professors?

Most of the time, they were wrong. Just as the best way to not get expelled was to write your own stuff and do your own work, the same is true of sharing images. The best way to ensure that you aren’t infringing on copyrights or terms of use is to make your own content. 

How do you make your own compelling visuals?

Making your own visual content is like making any content—it does take some time and skill. If you don’t think you want to take on this project, hire a content creator. If you want to do it yourself, streamline the process by having a plan and an arsenal of tools at your side.

First, decide what type of visual you are going to make.

Memes

You can easily make your own memes on a few different websites. I like Meme Generator. You can choose your background photo and write a caption. Save and download your meme and you’re done. Memes are usually humorous, so keep the captions light and funny. You can also upload your own photos to create memes.

Gifs

As with memes, there are a few different websites out there that let you make your own gifs. This is a good one. Gifs can be captioned as well—either by the dialogue that accompanies the clip or by your own creative caption.

Visual quotes

If you have Photoshop, you can create your own visual quotes by superimposing quotes on your own photos or stock photos. Stock photos don’t have to be boring either—choose something visually appealing. You can either pay for stock photos or find copyright and royalty free ones. I like Unsplash for free stock photos. If you don’t have Photoshop, you can use Canva to easily create your own visual quotes.

Editor’s note: A few other places to get images include the Flickr Creative Commons, Iconfinder, Pixabay and StockSnap. Be sure to check the terms of use, though. You may have to attribute the image or you may not be allowed to use it for commercial purposes. In general, using an image in a blog or for a purpose other than to sell a product or make money is fine. Otherwise, consider getting into the habit of taking photographs that you can use for your own stock images.

Make visual content work for your Facebook marketing strategy:

Don’t throw visual content at your corporate Facebook page willy-nilly. As with any content, make sure that it follows your company’s voice and adds value to the customer’s experience. Your visuals should resonate with your audience—and it might take some testing and trial and error to find the right material.

Strike a balance between easy to share visuals and links to more complex, longer-form content, and you’ll see a higher organic reach and engagement.

How do you create your own unique visual content for your company’s Facebook page? Share your tips in the comments below. 

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