Social Media Strategist
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Social Media marketing, strategy and professional development blog for Jon-Stephen Stansel, a social media strategist living in Austin, Texas.

Keeping a Social Media Ace Up Your Sleeve

Being ready to craft social media images at a moment's notice

by Jon-Stephen Stansel

As much as we try to plan ahead, anything can happen in social media and social media managers need to be ready to post at a moment’s notice. This can range from breaking news, a crisis situation, or a trending hashtag you want to make the most of. In these situations, crafting quality images to accompany the post may not always be easy. It takes skill and preparation to be able to act upon the unexpected. Here are few ways you can keep an ace up your sleeve and be ready with social media ready images whenever the need strikes.

Know your brand guidelines

Brand guidelines aren’t just a tool to help you maintain your brand identity. They can also provide direction when creating content. Sometimes those limitation can provide focus and guidance; steering you in the right direction to create a powerful image quickly. By cutting down the decision making process, you can create a graphic that looks good and fits your brand without reinventing the wheel every time.

Maintain a photo library

If you don’t already have one, work with your photographer to create a photo library for social. Think of images you might often need and add those to the library. These could be photos of your products, locations, key players in your business, anything you think you might need at a moment’s notice. I also like to have plenty of holiday images, patriotic images for Memorial Day, Independence Day, etc and of course lots of cute animals. If you don't have a photographer, go beyond the iPhone camera and learn the basics of photography for yourself. Also, in a pinch, sites like Unsplash are a great source of royalty free images that don't look like generic stock photos.

Brush up on your Photoshop and InDesign skills

A basic understanding of Photoshop and InDesign is key for any social media manager. You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to know how to put something together in a pinch. While there are tons of apps like Canva and PicLab that will help you to create images with text easily, a lot of these end up looking these same and have a cookie cutter feel. Knowing how to make your own social media graphics will set your images apart from the crowd. Also, being able to touch up images in Photoshop or even to excel at Photoshop battles is a handy skill to have for any social media professional. When you have down time, practice putting together images for future use. You might not use what you create, but the knowledge you gain while practicing will pay off in the end.

Know your GIFs and memes

The sheer number of available GIFs and memes are mind boggling. Have a basic knowledge of which ones are good for what context. I keep a folder of useful GIFs and memes on my desktop to have handy when the need arises. The right GIF at the right moment can often say what words can’t. But always know the origin of a GIF or meme before using it. Don’t recognize that animated character, then don’t use it. You don’t want to risk using something that is not appropriate for your brand.

Keep an eye on upcoming trends

Know what trends are coming up and keep them on your radar. Starting to see a lot of use of a certain meme? Start thinking of if it might be right for your brand and how you might use it. Getting close to May the 4th? Don’t wait for Star Wars Day to craft the perfect image. Get something ready in advance. You can never tell what might trend on social, but have a few ideas of how to react to a few common events such as bad weather, popular movie releases, award shows and sporting events.

Social media moves quickly and you need to be ready to strike when the moment is right. Preparation is key. Invest the time now, so you can act quickly when you need to.