Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Visual Networks

You’ve probably heard the saying that a picture is worth more than 1,000 words and the same can be said of content on social media. Increasingly, visual content – images and videos – prove themselves to be the most popular posts across social networks. They are shared the most, viewed the most and carry the most appeal.

There are a number of social media platforms aimed at showcasing great visual content and we’ve picked out a few below.



YouTube is arguably the go-to channel for video content. Since launching in 2005, YouTube has grown enormously, to the point where there is now more than an hour of footage uploaded every second.

You can use YouTube as a standalone social network, connecting and engaging with other users and building your own brand. YouTube is also very useful as a place to store video; it is really easy to embed footage from YouTube on blogs, and YouTube footage will automatically embed itself into Tweets and Facebook posts.


Instagram is a photo and video sharing network characterised by the vintage digital filter effects it allows users to add to their content. All content on Instagram appears with a square crop, and the majority of photos uploaded are taken using a smartphone’s camera. As with other networks, you can follow other users on Instagram, comment and like posts and use hashtags to make your content more easily found.

Up until recently, Instagram was entirely mobile based. You can now have some functionality by navigating to Instagram’s website, but you can still only upload content via its mobile app. Another recent addition is the ability to create videos; you can now add up to 15 seconds of footage, again filmed using your smartphone’s camera. Instagram is excellent for showing behind the scenes photos and you can encourage other users to take part by using a particular hashtag.


Flickr is a wonderful online photography community packed with millions of images – in fact, more than a million are uploaded every day. While Flickr lags behind sites such as Facebook and Instagram in terms of how many photos are shared each day, there are some real benefits to using Flickr.

Photos on Flickr are stored at the full resolution of the file you upload, rather than the compressed versions that Facebook upload, meaning Flickr pictures are a much higher quality. All Flickr users also get a terabyte of storage for free, which is a massive amount and should satisfy most people. It is also much easier to organise your photos into sets on Flickr.

Flickr also communicates well with other platforms; with a couple of clicks you can share images from Flickr on blogs and on other social networks too, so Flickr really is a great place to start a photo library.


Pinterest is essentially an online noticeboard, where users post things that they find interesting, inspiring or useful. However, the platform is reliant on images, so any link pinned to someone’s account has to have an image for Pinterest to pull out.
Users can organise their pins into themed boards – popular examples include a colour, a specific category or, on the profiles of higher education establishments, aspects of campus and campus life.

Pinterest isn’t just about creating your own boards though; it is a social platform too. You can follow other users, like and comment on pins, repin things to your own account or even follow specific boards of other users. You can also post your pins to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, meaning you cover the wider social spectrum. Pinterest’s popularity has rocketed from 1.2 million users in August 2011, to more than 70 million by mid-2013 and is still growing.

Best practice

  • Pick the best
    The internet is absolutely full of images and videos, so if you’re looking to make use of these visual networks ensure that your content is the very best it can be, so it really stands out and grabs people’s attention. One great photo is far better than four average ones.
  • Permission
    Make sure you have permission for the content you are uploading – that means copyright for the content and also the consent of anyone featured.
  • Videos – not too long
    Don’t make your videos too long, otherwise people will switch off. The equivalent length of a music video – ie around three and a half minutes – is a good figure to go for, although five minutes of great footage wouldn’t be too long either.
  • Common sense
    Obviously, don’t upload material that is pornographic, offensive, illegal etc.