Using Visuals to Engage Your Audience with Social Media

By Danielle Brigida, senior manager of social strategy and integration at National Wildlife Federation Birds of Prey ImageAt National Wildlife Federation we are lucky to help the wildlife and work with people who love what they do. But even though the environment touches everything, sometimes it’s challenging to be relevant, fun, and inspiring when we talk about our work on social media. This year at SXSW, I’ll be speaking at a workshop for social-media managers and highlighting some of the best practices we’ve discovered (mostly accidentally). Here’s a preview of that presentation with a couple of strategies I use to encourage visual engagement through National Wildlife Federation’s social-media channels:

Use Community Photo Albums to Foster Engagement

When we’re not asking for serious action on National Wildlife Federation’s Facebook page, we use the page as a way to highlight our talented supporters. Many of them experience wildlife every day, so we ask them to share their photos or stories on our Facebook timeline. We add some of these photos to our community-driven albums—with the photographer’s permission and credits, of course (you could apply this idea to Pinterest or blog posts as well). We want to nurture an online community that’s supported by the work we do. Plus, the collaborative atmosphere encourages our followers to interact and support each other too!

Create Communication Tools Your Supporters Want

Infographics and images with text are shared all over social media, but have you thought about using this trend to talk about your current mission? No matter what your organization does, you can drive awareness with eye-catching or funny images. At National Wildlife Federation, we created Valentine’s Day images that encouraged sharing and drove traffic to our website:

71404_10151451917508987_1528529859_nThink about ways to visually pre sent facts that are relevant to your organization’s work. It helps if you can condense complex concepts into an easily digestible visual. Our recent infographic about Animal Hearts saw significant sharing because it used eye-catching imagery and a compelling topic: the size of the heart. To portray a more complicated issue—such as the potential for negative environmental impact from a Keystone XL pipeline—we employed an infographic to break down key points.

Getting Started

Now figure out what message your audience already cares about that could be enhanced with a visual component. You may benefit from asking your social-media community, and it’s a great way to get them engaged. For more great tips, check out Beth Kanter’s great post on how to repurpose your content for social-media channels as well as her infographics about infographics (very meta).

Danielle Brigida works as the senior manager of social strategy and integration for National Wildlife Federation. She has a passion for protecting wildlife and exploring social media. 

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Want to learn more about using tech to effect social change? At SXSW Interactive, come hang out with the fun do-gooding geeks in The Beacon: Lounge with a Conscience presented by Beaconfire. You can also follow us on Twitter or visit for updates.

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