Social media images are not easy to get right. But that’s not an excuse for poor visuals! If building a customer base by way of social media marketing is part of your business strategy then you absolutely must master the art of engaging the eye online.
A picture tells a thousand words. This has never been truer than when it comes to social media. In today’s fast paced digital world we’re lucky to have a customer scan our social media posts let alone read them. You have a split second to capture someone’s attention so your image needs to be good. And I mean really good!
There are 3 key ways to get good social media images: Professional photography, stock images and DIY. There are pros and cons to each, but for many business owners it simply comes down to cost. DIY is often the only realistic long-term option available to us. So we need to figure out how to crack the art of eye-catching social posts.
If you haven’t got ‘the eye’ get ‘the head !
If you’re like me then you’re nowhere close to being a talented photographer or graphic designer. In Ireland we talk about people who ‘have an eye for it’ – I’m not one of them! However I do believe that you can develop a bit of a ‘head for it’ if you simply learn a few social media tricks that can enhance your images.
With that in mind I’m going to share some basic social media image tips and advice with you. Not all of these will be directly relevant to your product or service industry, but guaranteed you’ll find some actionable take-aways.
So let’s get started
1. Always accompany a social media post with an image (even on Twitter)
This is a bit of a precursor to the rest of my tips which are about enhancing social media images. However, I just want to stress the point from the outset that using visuals on social media is ESSENTIAL.
Don’t bother with text-only posts -they’ve been shown to get far less engagement. And if you’re not attaching an image make sure you are attaching something else visual like videos, infographics, memes or boomerang videos
2. Quality Control
Only use high quality, high resolution images. Pixilated or blurry photographs are a No-No.
Irregardless of your other brand personality traits, all businesses need to appear professional. Low quality images do not send that message. So be hard on yourself when it comes to selecting images for your business social media posts.
The ‘try the other shoe social media approach’ can help. It’s easy. Take off your business owner or manager hat and examine your photograph or image as if you’re just a regular Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or Twitter (or other) user. Would you be hitting the like button or wrinkling your nose and moving swiftly along.
3. Find the light!
When taking photographs on your mobile – or, even better, with an SLR digital camera – you need to think about your light. Granted, this is easier said than done when it comes to capturing in the moment situations. However, staged images such as those of people, premises or products can be planned.
Natural light is 100% always your best option. Take your products outdoors to shoot them if you can. If it is a building or fixed structure you are photographing think about the time of day, or take photos at different times of the day to see when the light is best.
If you are taking a photograph indoors try and position it to receive natural light. If this is not possible then under a good source of artificial light. It can also help to shine a light from the side to backlight or give extra illumination.
Don’t mix natural and artificial light. This is probably the most basic tip you will get, but also the most important. Once you’ve seen the light you’ll never go back!
4. Gain some photo editing skills
Don’t flinch! Photo editing is not just for professionals or techies. Learning some basic editing skills such as cropping, colour enhancing and filters can improve your images no end.
Your desktop computer will have some kind of inbuilt software that will help you with things like resizing, cropping, adding text and so on. There are also premium products like Photoshop which everyone has heard of and is industry standard for professionals. For something between these two levels I am personally a fan of Pixlr. It’s a free online app that offers a fairly sophisticated editing suite. Getting to grips with it can be a little frustrating to start with. Like everything in life, however, the more you do of it the easier it gets. So stick with it and when you hit a block go straight to YouTube!
5. It’s not all about photos.
Graphic images also work well on social media. Twitter cards and infographics are great for sharing knowledge in a visually appealing way. Indeed, graphics can be used to jazz up text-based information on Facebook for example sharing a quote or seasonal message.
You can also pair graphics with photos to great effect.
This may sound complicated to you, but there are fantastic applications out there that are specially designed to help people create shareable social media images. My favourite is the freemium site Canva. It’s foolproof and dare I say it, a lot of fun!
6. Be consistent
Akin to all areas of business communication it is vital to maintain a clear and consistent brand identity on social media. This means setting brand rules and sticking to them.
Your Instagram profile or ‘collage’ is a really good example of why brand consistency is so important. Customers do not always see your social media post one at a time. They will click through to view your profile as a whole. Your Instagram posts therefore need to work together as part of an overall brand story.
Make sure your colour scheme reflects your brand and is harmonious across your posts. For example, a children’s entertainment company can work with vibrant primary colours like red, blue and yellow whereas a company that manufactures outdoor clothing may want a more natural earthy palette. Imagine if the outdoor clothing company randomly added a bright yellow image to its Instagram or Facebook account. It would stand out like a sore thumb and confuse the brand altogether.
The same goes for typography. Pick a font family and stick to it, and be consistent with the size of the font you use when adding text to images.
Other things to look out for are the placement and size of your logo if/when you add it to an image. Generally, you will also have rules about what you depict in your social media posts which will relate back to your overall brand vision.
The important thing to remember is that social media provides an outlet for you to build brand awareness. By being consistent with your visuals you’ll develop a pattern which in turn elicits brand recognition and familiarity with your customers. Ultimately you want a customer to see a stand alone social media image of yours and for them to say ‘that looks like it’s from …(Your Business)’.
7.Learn about Design Elements
If you’re committed to improving your social media images with tips 1 through 6 then you’re well on the way to eye-catching social media success. In fact, I would go as far as saying you’ve graduated and can officially call yourself a jack of the trade!
If you want to raise it up a notch to Master level the next step is to take on board a little education about design elements. I’m not telling you to go off and do a graphic design degree or even a course – what business owner has the time for that! But it’s worthwhile doing some tip of the iceberg reading on design to learn about the various elements within an image you should consider – things like colour, contrast, weight, shapes, lines, pattern, negative space and so on. Honestly, this is one of those times when you really can put theory into practice!
If you read nothing else then this design tips article from Buffer Social will give you a quick lesson.
Time to get cracking!
Enough of these words! Let’s see some images! Now that you’ve got a few DIY tips for your tool belt you it’s time to get cracking on making visible improvements to your social media. I’d love to see how you get on so feel free to connect with my social media channels and I’ll be sure to swing by yours to take a look.
In the meantime if you have any specific questions relating to social media, content or digital marketing then please leave a comment or drop me a mail. I’m always happy to hear from readers and find out what you want to know so I an address it here on the blog.