We look at our phones about 80 times per day, or once every 12 minutes. With these staggering numbers in mind, it makes sense that we want our devices to look as good as possible.
Chances are, you have carefully chosen a wallpaper for your phone’s background and lock screen that brings you some sort of joy (or at least shows everyone around you how cool you are).
For brands and organizations, providing phone wallpapers to social media followers is a great way to say thank you—with mutual benefits. Your audience gets spiffy new phone backgrounds, and your brand gets to boost awareness and positive sentiment.
To find out more about this practice, I spoke to Hootsuite’s social media team, as well as social media marketers from Saje Wellness and Lush who have found success by sharing their own phone wallpapers—especially on Instagram.
Continue reading to discover:
- Why offering mobile wallpapers on Instagram is a smart move for brands
- How top brands are sharing phone wallpapers
- Expert tips and tricks for sharing your own mobile wallpapers
- How to easily create your own mobile wallpapers in under 10 minutes
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.
Why your brand should be sharing mobile wallpapers on social media
You may be wondering how your brand could possibly benefit from creating a free resource for your audience. But, there are many advantages to sharing mobile wallpapers with your followers.
If you create a relevant and aesthetically pleasing mobile wallpaper for your audience and they use it, chances are people will take notice.
Take Hootsuite’s Global Social Engagement Specialist Nick Martin. He currently has a Dungeons and Dragons themed phone wallpaper. When he’s out with friends and people notice his cool phone background, he tells them where it came from, and where they can get one for themselves.
If you’re looking to boost awareness about your brand, this is the perfect low-cost opportunity. Get a branded image on the devices that your customers are looking at all day long, especially while around potential new customers, and it’s basically like having a built-in moving billboard.
To ensure your branded phone wallpapers reflect your brand, our social media team at Hootsuite suggests you:
- Match your brand’s look and feel. You want your wallpaper to make sense for your brand. While it doesn’t have to be covered in your logo, it needs to be relevant and have some sort of connection to who you are. Think about whether people would be shocked or confused to find out the wallpaper was created by your brand, and use that as a guiding point.
- Know your brand’s audience. Who are the people most likely to use a mobile wallpaper from your brand? What is it about your brand that they like, and that they’d be proud to have on their phone? You also want to consider whether they’d be more interested in a flashy branded image, or something more subtle.
The joy of getting something for free is universal. By offering free mobile wallpapers to your audience, you’re showing them that you appreciate their business.
By boosting positive sentiment through freebies like mobile wallpapers, you are also more likely to increase engagement and build trust. When done well, this kind of proactive engagement will undoubtedly increase positive feelings around your brand.
To make sure your mobile wallpapers actually increase sentiment—instead of decrease—our social media team has some tips:
- Share audience-made wallpapers. User-generated content is always a great way to generate warm fuzzies around your brand. Run a casual contest or call for submissions for your followers to share wallpapers they make themselves, and be sure to credit the creators when you post to your Instagram Story.
- Make sure your format is right. There are a few formatting issues to keep in mind when creating wallpapers. First of all, remember that your followers will be taking screenshots of the wallpaper to use, so don’t put anything such as text or GIFs over it. Also, most phones have the time displayed on lock screens so keep that in mind when creating your design.
- Make the process as easy as possible. It’s a good idea to walk your followers through the process of using your wallpaper so they don’t experience frustration. We suggest making a Story to go before the wallpaper with instructions (e.g.,. hold down on the Story to remove all surrounding text). This will also give them time to get ready to screenshot.
3 brands doing mobile wallpapers right
Saje Wellness is a 100% natural essential oil and skincare company that focuses on plant-based ingredients. Due to the nature of their products, Saje regularly shares plant-themed mobile wallpapers.
I spoke to Fanny Lau, a Social Media Specialist at Saje, about their approach to sharing wallpapers with their audience.
Lau explains, “We end up collecting lots of beautiful imagery captured by our in-house photographer [Kornelia Kulbacki] that are not only used for our marketing campaigns but end up as wallpapers for our personal phones, presentations, and laptops. We figured that our Instagram community might love them as much as we do, so we decided to share them to Instagram Stories.”
Through sharing wallpapers with their Instagram audience, Saje has seen an uptake in engagement with their content.
“Every time we share a wallpaper story, we get lots of positive sentiment from our social community, who share their gratitude and excitement for us sharing them,” Lau says. Often followers will send screenshots of their favorite wallpaper in use, and respond to their wallpaper Stories to let them know how much they love them.
“It’s so nice to know that people have a little piece of Saje with them wherever they go!” Lau says.
- Reuse aesthetically pleasing photos (or cropped parts of photos) from official branded photoshoots as mobile wallpapers. Or, designate a bit of time during product photoshoots to get some wallpaper-friendly images.
- Keep it subtle. Saje has perfected the art of using images that are relevant to their brand, without being overly branded or corporate. Because Saje is a natural company, images of plants and flowers fit perfectly with their brand, while also looking generically artistic enough to be used by anyone.
Game of Thrones
While HBO’s Game of Thrones might not need any more brand recognition, this popular (understatement) show has perfected the art of building hype. To create buzz for the eighth and final season of the show, their social media team shared a number of themed wallpapers for their 7.8 million followers.
Using the hashtag #ForTheThrone, Game of Thrones first shared the announcement to their Twitter account with a link to their Instagram Highlights where the wallpapers are available permanently.
- Share mobile wallpapers in the weeks leading up to a big event, product launch, or announcement. Reveal one wallpaper per week on a designated day (e.g., Wallpaper Wednesday) until the big day, and give your audience something to look forward to.
- Promote across different networks. Game of Thrones was able to tap into both their Twitter and Instagram audiences by sharing the wallpaper announcements and links to both accounts.
Lush Cosmetics is most widely known for inventing the bath bomb more than 30 years ago, but their product line also includes ethical, natural, and never animal-tested cosmetics, skincare, and other personal care items. I spoke to Lush’s Community Manager, Sabine Schwirtz-Zinser, to find out exactly how the brand engages their audience with mobile wallpapers.
Lush started sharing wallpapers after their audience voiced their desire for this type of content. Schwirtz-Zinser explains, “Since our audience is so engaged, it’s incredible for us to continue to deepen our connection with them by providing a static piece of content that they can use on their own terms.”
For Lush, positive sentiment is also a huge aspect to sharing mobile wallpapers.
“Regularly we will ask customers to engage on past posts or tell us what they want to see next, and we use this to temperature check if this is something our audience is still engaged with this content,” says Schwirtz-Zinser.
If they don’t post new wallpapers regularly, followers send Lush’s customer care team direct messages asking for them.
To keep this positive sentiment going, Lush’s team shares mobile wallpapers that reflect their core brand values such as their vocal support of the LGBTQ+ community. For the holidays, Lush shared a special drag queen edition of their “Wallpaper Wednesday.”
This line of wallpapers features three drag queens, Kim Chi, Detox, and Shea Couleé, from RuPaul’s Drag Race. These tied into a larger campaign where Lush hosted meet and greets with the queens, using the images for in-store advertising.
Schwirtz-Zinser explains, “We like to share wallpapers that match every campaign we put out. Whether that’s #bathart photos, photos of one of our farms, or photos of skincare products, we always try to put something up that aligns with current messaging.”
- Conduct temperature checks. By regularly asking their audience what kind of content they want and whether they’re still interested in wallpapers specifically, Lush is able to make informed decisions regarding future campaigns and content. This is a big part of sharing content that many brands ignore.
- Ensure your wallpapers reflect your company’s values. Remember that if your audience uses these wallpapers on their phones, others will most likely see them. Make sure your company is reflected in a positive light.
- Keep your wallpapers in your Story Highlights. Make it as easy as possible for your followers to find your wallpapers by creating a Story Highlight on your Instagram profile and saving them all there together.
- Ask your audience to share their favorite wallpapers. It can be tricky to track who is actually using your wallpapers, but Lush came up with an innovative solution. After sharing their wallpapers, Lush asks their followers to share their wallpaper choice to their Stories and to tag their team. This allows the audience to share something they love, while enabling measurement and furthering brand awareness.
How to easily create phone wallpapers for your brand
Now that you understand the benefits of sharing phone wallpapers with your audience, it’s time to learn how you can actually create some for your brand.
The online design tool Canva makes this process as easy as possible. We’ll walk you through how to create a wallpaper with Canva’s desktop tool, as well as their mobile app.
1. First, go to the Canva website. If you don’t already have an account, it’s quick and easy to sign up either with your email or Facebook account.
2. Once you’re logged in, use the search bar and type in “Instagram Story.” Click on the suggested option of “Instagram Story” when it appears.
3. Start adding elements to the blank template.
4. To change the main color, click on the rainbow icon in the top left corner.
5. If you have official brand colors, for example, you can add the exact Hex Code to match it perfectly.
6. Once you have your background color, it’s time to add other elements. You can add writing (e.g.., for an inspirational quote), shapes, and other images. Canva has tons of free elements like grids, shapes, lines, photos, icons, gradients, and charts.
To make this phone background for my cat’s Instagram account, I uploaded a photo, added a text box, and then used heart icons and a dotted line—all available for free in Canva (and done in under 10 minutes.)
7. Once you’re happy with how your phone wallpaper looks, click on the “Download” button.
8. After you download your Story wallpaper to your computer, send it to your phone and then upload to your Instagram Stories as you normally would.
1. Download the Canva app if you haven’t already. It’s free for both Apple and Android users.
2. Open the app, and use the search bar to search for ‘Instagram Story’.
3. Click on the ‘Blank’ template.
4. Tap to change the background, and then follow Canva’s clear instructions to edit other aspects and customize to your heart’s desire.
5. Once you’re done designing, click on the blue arrow in the top right corner and save your image. You’re now ready to share with your followers!
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