5 reasons why Canva and Adobe Spark are hurting your social media
First, let me clear. I love Canva and Adobe Spark. These two tools have revolutionized the ease and accessibility of making professional graphics and I use them. I have many clients who use them. Both tools save time and give any business or organization the opportunity to look slick with graphics. For sure, there is a place where Canva and Adobe Spark makes life easier for your marketing needs.
Having said all of the above, let’s be clear on an important point: Too much can be bad. Worse, on social media, it can entirely detract from the advantage and uniqueness of social media. This is where tools like Canva and Adobe Spark have become a distraction for so many businesses and organizations. The proliferation of graphics in posts has become so bad, in some cases, that lots of organizations and businesses now appear on social media to be in the business of graphic-making. That’s bad strategy.
Here are five reasons why using Canva and Adobe Spark are hurting your brand’s social media efforts:
You’re losing sight of what YOUR unique content is: If you make and sell widgets, your social media should have photos/videos of widgets, photos/videos showing people making widgets, behind the scenes photos/videos of widget-making, photos/videos of employees talking about widgets, etc. Widgets and people are YOUR unique content. Graphics about widgets all day every day don’t allow audiences to Feel, Listen, See and go behind the scenes and get to know you and your organization. Never forget: social media is about getting people to become fans of you and what you do. Graphics don’t accomplish that. Graphics are only meant to provide supplementary support to that effort on an occasional basis. You will never build real authenticity through graphics.
You’re forgetting that humans connect with humans: There’s a reason why human faces have been used in advertising for 100 years. Humans connect with faces and eyes. Humans rarely connect emotionally with clipart and graphics. One of my favourite industries to follow on social media are the the big outdoor adventure brands. These brands get it: Their social media channels are all about immersing audiences (their fans!) in the experiences that they love to do too! That means plenty of photos showing hiking in the mountains, canoeing on lakes, camping, epic wilderness sunsets, etc. These brands know and recognize that graphics have little space in this approach.
You’re spending more time at your desk than being where the action is: Graphics take time to create. Sometimes, lots of time. On the flipside, it can take a few minutes to snap a photo or record a video and upload it to social media. Which one do you think will be more effective? Again, if you’re in the business of making widgets, you can do one of two things: 1. Stay in an office and create fancy graphics about widgets, or 2. You can grab your smartphone, leave your office and go to where the widget-making is happening and photograph/record the type of content that better shows what you do or what you’re all about.
You’re losing sight of what is beautiful: Yes, colourful graphics and fancy fonts can result in beautiful eye-catching graphics. Some folks (probably ones that don’t use social media) will go ooh and awe over them. But these people are not the audience for your social media. You know what’s beautiful on social media? A photo of someone hiking up a rugged lush trail through giant moss-covered redwoods. You know what’s not beautiful? Trying to tell people they should try doing that, by depicting it in a graphic with clipart trees and trails and fancy lettering that says Come Hiking! You need to intimately understand what creates an emotional reaction within humans and compels them to say “I want to do that!” Hint: It’s not graphics.
You’re using the telephone poster approach to promoting events. This has become a plague on social media. Everyone announces events by posting (you guessed it!) posters on social media. Hint: If you’re having a wine and cheese gala, use photos of people enjoying wine and cheese! You can put details of the event in your post, or drive people to your website where the details are, which is what you should be doing as part of your social media to website ecosystem. Social media is about visuals. Sadly, some businesses and organizations still believe that on social media, a visual includes a graphic, poster, flyer, etc. OK, I get it. Sometimes these get posted out of necessity. But it’s doing it over and over again that is a fail. And, as channels like Facebook increasingly crack down on this form of visual pollution clogging users’ newsfeeds, your strategy of overusing graphics will be an engagement disaster in the making.
How you can start to fix the problem
Summary: Overuse of graphics in social media posts is causing organizations and businesses to lose focus about what content makes them unique and attractive to audiences. Moderation is essential. And that doesn’t mean a content posting blend of 50% graphics and 50% photos and videos is acceptable. Graphic should be on the low end. Demand it. How to fix it: If your social media channel’s content is polluted with graphics you need to call a meeting, put someone in front of a flipboard, and have people in the room call out all the things that make you unique (what you do, where, how) and what audiences like about what you do and what you offer (ie. experiences!). Write down the words. You’ll end up with lots of words. Bingo! Now go and get the photos and videos that show those words in authentic real-life action. It’s not complicated. They call it social media for a reason. It’s not called graphic media.
Gregg McLachlan is recognized as a leading trainer, marketing rethinker and rural social media strategist who works with small businesses and organizations who want to elevate their social media. His newest conference and workshop talk, 2017 Is So Yesterday, helps audience understand how social media is evolving and how to stay ahead and be effective. Contact Gregg at firstname.lastname@example.org