How to produce engagement-driving social media marketing creative on a budget

Creative is always a challenge for both big and small brands, especially when resources are tight. There’s a lot of confusion around social media creative because there’s no straight answer to the question how is it supposed to be?.

Some of the world’s top brands have highly produced creative, while others have raw, unedited feeds. So, what is actually necessary to get the most out of your creative budget? To help answer this question, we had a conversation with Will Whipple, a creative marketer with tons of experience bringing brands to life via video content–most recently at ThirdLove — and a member of our Strong Brand Social community.

Visual consistency, do you really need it? 

You know what we’re talking about. When you scroll through a big brand’s social page the content all looks and feels consistent, and you ask yourself “how do I do that?” or more accurately, “do I actually have to do that?” The most straightforward answer is that consistency is important, but there are different ways to achieve it. Creative can be consistent in more ways than a highly-designed color palette, such as with your brand message and core values. You can achieve consistency through emotion and feeling. Take Reformation for example: their photos are mostly outdoors, natural, and with lots of greenery. Sustainability instantly comes through as a company value despite having varying imagery.

Post production work is also one way of achieving consistency. Brands like Everlane have a streamlined look and feel mostly as a result of lighting and gradient, effects that can almost always be included after a photoshoot. An easy way of doing this is through a filter, but be careful. Brands often lean on this technique too much. You can’t solely rely on filters for consistency. You don’t want a feed of warm and bright tones and then toss in a cold and dark image because you relied on your filter to color correct the shot. Filters will have different effects between indoor lighting and outdoor lighting.

Creative variety and how to achieve it. 

You already know consistency is important, but so is variety. Variety keeps your audience interested. Simple changes like incorporating different shot angles can have a great effect on your feed, while still achieving the same look and feel. If your content is usually landscapes, shake it up with wide middle close ups against big picture scenery. If you usually hone in on the detail of your product, get a shot of it in action.  


It’s really easy to focus content around your product. If you don’t offer variety in your type of imagery, your social media can start looking like a catalog of products. Details and clarity are crucial when your audience is ready to shop, like on your website. On social, this doesn’t matter so much. Your focus is still to get your audience to be aware of and like you. It’s more about the feeling, emotion and color, so tailor shots based on what your target persona is interested in, and of course include product shots for those who want to see that. 

Creative for service-based businesses 

For service based businesses, the key to creative is to lean into the relationship between you and your customer. How do people feel and benefit from using what you offer? What do they care about? How has your service solved a problem in their life? Considering this as a starting point, brainstorming lifestyle shot ideas becomes a lot easier. 

Another idea is to test different angles and perspectives. Get photos of yourself, and test them with different scenes and settings. This will make you stand out but also give you insight in terms of what your audience is responding to. 

Tips for investing in creative on a budget. 

It’s no easy feat to be a business owner today, so to make things simple, here are some tips to get the most value out of a small budget, single photoshoot.

  • Spend a lot of time on pre-production and plan as much as you can before the shoot. When building a resource efficient shot list, think of all the angles that you can approach the subject from. For example for every shot you take, include a micro level, macro level and video shot so that you get 3x the content from one photoshoot. The more prepared you are, the more you’ll get out of the shoot. 
  • Get as many stills as possible and shoot iPhone videos inbetween for a lifestyle and organic feel. These assets can be used on your social feed, stories, and later repurposed and reconcepted for ad content. 
  • Don’t forget that you are the producer, so it’s on you to get what you need from this shoot. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions and take initiative, the photographer needs shots for their portfolio, too! This could be a win-win. 
  • Natural lighting is a little restrictive but also resource efficient, and a great way of achieving consistency. Shoot at the same time of day, and make note of the exact time and location so that you, or any additional hired creators can reference and recreate it. 

If you use any of these tips, let us know how it goes. 

In your corner, 


KW Content is a global content and social media marketing agency that develops and launches content and social media programs for purpose-driven brands. Strong Brand Social is our favorite place to hang out! That’s where we provide the absolute best (and most accessible) social media marketing education that empowers small brands to develop their own high-performing marketing programs that are guaranteed to drive growth. Teaching from our proven agency methodologies, we simplify the process and demystify the art of social media marketing to offer focus, efficiency, and measurable results to small business owners, brand directors, and social media marketers. [Learn more.]

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