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Using Visual Social Media Platforms for Non-Visual Businesses

Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker specializing in sales and marketing topics for coaches, consultants, and solopreneurs.

Learn how to promote your business with some visual appeal.

Learn how to promote your business with some visual appeal.

How to Give Your Business More Visual Appeal on Social Media

Though I’m playing in the Instagram and IGTV pool almost daily at present, I have to admit that it still is a challenge. It’s not the extensive amount of time it takes to post and participate—although that is a significant investment. No, the biggest challenge is figuring out what to post, because most of what I do is non-visual.

I edit book manuscripts, do a podcast about self publishing, and write blog posts on business. None of these subjects are ideally suited for the photo- and video-based platforms of Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

Even traditionally non-visual social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn are leaning toward more visual content over time, with text-based posts being barely visible in my news feeds. It’s now almost a requirement to find some sort of graphic or photo to accompany every post to get any attention. Aargh!

Yet to reach new potential customers and fans, non-visual professionals and businesses like mine need to be on social media networks, even the more visual ones. What to post?

5 Ways to Promote a Business on Social Media

  1. Create Quote Graphics
  2. Create Blog and Podcast Title Teasers
  3. Post Selfies
  4. Post Front-Facing Camera Videos
  5. Mix Up Your Post Types

1. Quote Graphics

This is a pretty popular type of post for people who offer tips and inspiration to their followers. Basically, the words of the quote are artfully arranged on an attractive background.

I’m inclined to only recommend that you use your own quotes for these posts. The use of popular quotes of others can be a very gray area from a legal and copyright standpoint. So do your research to make sure what you quote from others is in the public domain (which does not mean “on the Internet”). Attribution to the person who said or wrote the words is an absolute must. Another reason not to use quotes of others, is that it promotes the person quoted, not you. So quote yourself!

Plus, selecting quotes or snippets from your own books can help with your book marketing. Just make sure you include your author name and what book it came from.

Tools, such as Canva, can be used to create these graphics. The only problem with these graphics is that they can take time to create. Sure, tools such as Canva can create a great result easily and without the learning curve of traditional graphic layout programs. But I’ve found that it takes at least 10 to 20 minutes to create something that looks good. And that doesn’t include the time it takes to select quotes you want to use. That could be even longer.

Tip: If you don’t want to use a tool like Canva, you could also use Microsoft PowerPoint. Just make sure that the page setup is appropriate for the platform, i.e., square or horizontal rectangle.

2. Blog and Podcast Title Teasers

One of the toughest things about using Instagram, compared with all other platforms, is that links to blog posts, podcasts, etc. are not allowed unless you switch to a business account and pay for sponsoring the post. Plus, you're only allowed one link in your bio. So Instagram is not an easy way to build traffic to your sites.

Yet, I'd like to promote my large archive of helpful content to this new audience on Instagram. Here's how I do that, without spending a whole lot of money.

First, I use LinkTree ( for the one link in my bio. Using it, you can create a list of links to your blog, site, podcast, or whatever. The link shows that list to users who visit your profile. They can then click to your blog or wherever you'd like to direct them. To see how it works, go to my Instagram profile (@heidithorne).

You probably don't want to create a LinkTree link for EVERY post. In the post's caption, I just tell them to click "Blog" in my bio link for the latest post.

Next, using free graphic design program, Canva, I create a quote-type graphic for the blog post's title to post on Instagram. Then in the caption, I explain how to use my LinkTree bio link to go to the post.

It's a little awkward, but it's a workaround for Instagram's and non-visual businesses' limitations.

3. Selfies

One of the problems for many writers is that they are introverts both in real life and online. So they’re self conscious about revealing too much of themselves on social media. While I’m pretty extroverted, I understand their concerns.

But if you’re comfortable with posting pictures of yourself online, you can definitely be a subject of your social media activities. For some people, taking selfies is their main social media activity!

True, selfies will probably not relate directly to your non-visual business activities. Rather, your goal is to make yourself appear as a real person with whom people might want to do business.

In addition to selfies, I’ve posted pictures of my garden, the weather, my dogs, animals, and other interesting things I see in my world. It’s all about being human because people do business with people.

On that note, I’d also be more inclined to not make photos, especially of yourself, look too staged. I follow some “beautiful people” whose photos are model photo shoot quality. I know they haven’t taken them themselves since they’re full body shots. Unless you have an elaborate tripod and photo timer set up, it’s a real trick to get those without having a photographer follow you around. As well, the lighting is always perfect. That, in itself, is a challenge, especially if you’re taking selfies.

Sure, posting a pretty picture or two of yourself now and again is just fine. But if that’s your norm, you’re investing too much time (and probably money) in your Insta life and not showing us enough of your real life. Just saying.

4. Front-Facing Camera Videos (Moving Selfies)

Selfie videos talking to your fans and followers can make you seem even more authentic than mere photos. And now with IGTV, you can post longer videos to your Instagram audience.

Video can be a great way to talk about your non-visual business, with explanations, insights and news. It’s probably one of the easiest ways to make your non-visual business visual.

5. Mixing Up Your Social Media Post Types

I follow some folks whose Instagram feeds are almost 100 percent quote graphics. Though their content might be consistently amazing, I’d kind of like to see who they are for real. Sometimes I wonder if there is a real person behind their posts. Others are so heavy on posting selfies that they appear kind of narcissistic.

I think a mix of post types helps solve both of these issues, and helps expand your audience by offering a variety of content.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Heidi Thorne


Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on August 22, 2018:

Hi Dianna! I see so many of these "Are you for real?" accounts. Even worse are the ones that engineer how their profile looks on Instagram. For example, they post a whole bunch of pictures that you can't figure out what they are. Then when you look at their profile, it creates a mosaic of a much larger graphic. Yeah, that's genuine. Not!

Thanks so much for stopping by and have a wonderful day!

Dianna Mendez on August 22, 2018:

I do agree with your curiosity as to who is behind SM posts when the focus in on graphic quotes and pictures. Thank you for sharing your ideas.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on August 03, 2018:

Linda, even though your HP posts are super visual with all the great photos and videos, I totally understand how it can be challenging elsewhere. Glad we're connected here and on Instagram so we can both learn how to "visualize" our non-visual sides.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on August 03, 2018:

Liz, love the "allergy" to selfies. :) I don't think there's a total cure for that though. Do what feels right for you!

Thanks so much for joining the conversation and have a great day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on August 03, 2018:

Flourish, do check out Canva. It is pretty awesome and I've used it for many of my HP post graphics. Plus, it's free for the basic account.

Totally understand about the creepers. Ugh! Do what feels right for you.

Thanks so much for sharing! Have a lovely day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on August 03, 2018:

You're welcome, Larry! Sometimes I don't feel I have the energy either. :) Thanks for your kind words and for taking time to read. Have a wonderful day!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 31, 2018:

Thank you very much for sharing your ideas, Heidi. Using a social media platform such as Instagram for a non-visual business is something that I've been concerned about. I appreciate your suggestions.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 31, 2018:

You're always on top of this ever changing tech experiment that is life now.

I admire you for it. I just don't have the energy for it, lol

Thanks for trying to educate me.

Liz Westwood from UK on July 31, 2018:

I think I have an allergy to selfies. You are so right about writers not wanting to reveal too much of themselves. It's a big hurdle for many as it seems to pay these days to be much more 'upfront'.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 30, 2018:

Great ideas and I appreciate your idea about quotes and recommendation regarding Canva. I hadn’t heard of that tool before. I’m afraid to use too many selfies and other information about myself because of creepers. I have gotten some weirdos wanting to be my buddy but most people have been pretty awesome.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 30, 2018:

Pamela, I didn't go Instagram much until late last year either. :) But I wanted to stay relevant with my existing network which shifted from Twitter/Facebook to Instagram. So I had to learn myself.

Glad you found it helpful. And if you do decide to kick up your Instagram game, I hope you'll connect with me there.

Have a wonderful week!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 30, 2018:

Mary, if you don't feel comfortable being the "face" of your social feed, that's fine. Do what's right for you. But I'm glad you're considering it.

Thanks so much for starting your week here! Make it a great one!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 30, 2018:

Bill, maybe when farming season is over, you can do some experimenting in the visual social media realms. But since you're doing just fine without it, wait until you can decide on what you want to accomplish by doing so.

Stay cool and have a great week!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 30, 2018:

Hi Donna! Truly, I see a lot of non-visual businesses floundering when it comes to these visual networks. Some may even use it as an excuse to not participate at all.

You're right, it doesn't have to be a massive investment. But it does have to be purposeful and doable.

Thanks for chiming in and have a fabulous week!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 30, 2018:

I don't spend a huge amount of time on Instagram, but I think your article is excellent. I especially thought the use of quotes was great advice. Thank you.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 30, 2018:

Offering a variety of content is a good advice. I seldom reveal myself in my posts but now that I realize that to show a real person behind posts is important, I'll start doing it.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 30, 2018:

I really do wish I could do more visual social media. I actually loved doing what I did in the past. It's all about choices, isn't it? No excuses on my part; I have just chosen not to do visual media so far...but thank you for your guidance. I'll be informed should I ever change my approach.

Happy Monday from sweltering Olympia!

Donna Herron from USA on July 30, 2018:

Hi Heidi - These are great ideas for adding images to social media posts. I think a lot of businesses think they have nothing to share on visual mediums if there business isn't visual. But as you point out, adding simple and eye-catching graphics to any post does not need to be complicated or expensive. Thanks for sharing your ideas and expertise!