Social Media Image Tips

7 Tips To Improve Your Social Media Images

03 March 2018

We live in a “Pinstagram” world, where everyday life looks dull compared to the beautiful images that fill up our social media feeds. From professional photographs on Pinterest to carefully edited Instagram shots, we’ve got a veritable art gallery on our screens every time we log on. With so much perfection in our feeds, users won’t give a second glance to sub-par social media images, which means yours have to look their best. To help you get noticed, here are 7 tips to improve your business’s social media images.

1. Quality Photography

Gone are the days where you could slap together a social post that uses a dimly lit photo taken with a shaky hand. This is particularly true for product images. Your post has a split second to grab somebody’s attention, and if your product looks unappealing in a photo, then the response to that image will be the same. Invest in lighting, a good camera, nice props, and photo editing tools to get the job done right. Of course you can still put up candid team photos on your social posts, but even then the lighting and focus needs to be well done, and considerations of your background and how people are arranged should also be a factor. Planning the photograph should be just as important as taking it.

Walker Zanger's social media posts mix stock photos with product images to set a tone for each of its tile collections.

2. Sourcing stock photos

In some cases, you may want to use a stock photo for your social post. They aren’t ideal for posts about your company or products (keep those authentic and use actual photos), but they could be useful in certain circumstances, like montages or background images. It’s tempting to turn to Google images to find a photo that would work, but you risk copyright infringement by doing this. Instead, use Creative Commons Zero (CC0) libraries. They have millions of beautiful images that are free for personal and commercial use and don’t need attribution. There are several out there but I like Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixabay. Give them a try, you may be pleasantly surprised how nice these images are.

3. Typography and illustration

Photography isn’t the only option for social media images, illustrations and typography can also be used to create stunning posts. B2B organizations often struggle to add a visual element to their messaging and these are a great workaround. Consider adding fun facts, statistics, and infographics into your social images. They will add a pop of color and are more likely to grab your followers’ attention than text alone. Keep a consistent style and post on a regular schedule, and before you know it your feeds will be filled with images that get you great results.

Social media images using typography
Mightybytes created a series of social media posts about web sustainability that utilized typography in its graphics.

4. Layout

Creativity and the best intentions will only get you so far, and if you don’t have a designer on staff then actually creating your social media images can be a problem. Luckily, there are tools out there that can help. Canva, Snappa, and DesignBold all have multi-tiered plans (including free options), and provide templates where you can quickly swap out text and images to create a professionally-designed image in minutes. They are great for teams that don’t have strong design skills or simply don’t have the time to create designs from scratch.

5. Size your images

Take a look at the top brands on social media and you’ll quickly noticed that their images are not only beautifully designed but also perfectly sized. Every pixel is visible, which means people scrolling past the image see every part of the message. That’s no accident. Unfortunately, each social network has a different image size and ratio, so if you are planning to use the same image across multiple social networks then you’ll need to size a version for each. Yes it’s more work, but the results are worth it. Most social networks publicly list the image sizes recommended for posts but you’ll want to regularly check on those since they do sometimes change.

6. Keep a consistent style

Have you ever scrolled through your personal feed and read a post only to know who wrote it before you look at the person’s name? It’s not an uncommon occurrence. That’s because we all have our own personal writing style and tend to publish the same sort of content, so our friends eventually get used to it and associate that type of content with us. The same should be said for businesses. Your followers give you less than a second to grab their attention, so if your style isn’t consistent then your followers won’t quickly recognize that the post they are looking at is yours. So, if you want to use photography, stick with photography; if you use illustrations then stick with illustrations. Include your logo on every image, and if you use text on your images then make it a consistent font.
Buzzfeed articles (outlined in red) dominate Pinterest because images are sized much larger than the average image.

7. Consider the share

A lot of the content we post on social media is shared from a website, and businesses need to be prepared for that. This means content (like a blog post) needs to have an image that will look good in a social media preview. This is often overlooked but can have a major impact on whether or not people click a link that is shared on social media. Images can be specifically assigned to social media previews in the metadata of a page (developers can do this for you or those of you using WordPress can use plugins like Yoast. If you want to get really serious about how your website content looks when it’s shared on social media, then take a look at Buzzfeed, whose remit is to create content that goes viral. Buzzfeed knows what types of content get shared on different social media, so they make sure to “consider the share” when creating their content. Click into any of their recipe articles and you’ll always find a massive image at the top, often including the title of the article and multiple images from it. That’s not for the benefit of the reader, it’s for the benefit of the share. Those large images take up much more real estate on sites like Pinterest where users love to share links about food. Social media audiences can be fickle and the expectation for beautiful images has never been greater. By following these seven tips, you’ll improve the look of your social media posts and create content that people will want to follow and engage with.

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About the author
Veronica Bagnole
Veronica Bagnole

Veronica has worked in digital marketing for 8 years and has held positions in digital agencies in the US and Great Britain. She has an MA in Globalization & Communication and spent 3 years in the Peace Corps.​

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