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How to Pick Better Images for Social

I’m sure you already use images across the various social platforms your brand is active on. But are you selecting the best images per platform? If you want to improve engagement on social you’ll have to think even more visually. And remember, not all social platforms have the same best practices when it comes to what is a successful image.

how to pick better social images

Across the board, visual media performs better than text. That much is clear. On Facebook, for example, images see 2.3x more engagement than their text counterparts. On Instagram, over 91% of posts are photos. Tweets with images are 150% more likely to get retweets than text-only tweets and receive 18% more clicks than tweets without images. And LinkedIn posts with images receive 200% more engagement than images with only text. (Sources: AdWeek, SocialPilot.)

Keep reading for tips on creating more effective social media images.

The best images on social are digestible and impactful.

Social images need to be easily digestible and have an emotional impact. Plus they need to convey your message in a clear and concise way. It’s all about creating images that are easy to understand and get your message across quickly.

Creating bite-sized visuals for sharing longer-form content will help increase engagement rates. So, if you are, for example, posting a link to your recent blog on Facebook try creating an image that relates to it and add a little content in the text field.

Interestingly, partial body images perform better than an image of an entire person or no person. Research from Convince & Convert tells us that an image showing a body part, like a hand, are preferred, with these partial body images performing 29% better than images with a full person. Go figure!

Images that perform well on social are creative and bright.

People tend to like images that are bright, and original. If your social posts are all sales focused you won’t see the number of shares or comments that you might be striving for. Look outside of your typical boring stock images for something creative and playful. (Check out Death to the Stock Photo!)

If taking photos for your social accounts is more your speed, keep in mind a few foundational photography practices, like the rule of thirds.Take an image, divide it into a tic-tac-toe board. The intersections of lines are where the eye is most likely to be drawn so place your key elements along these intersections. Also make sure your images are well lit.

Facebook vs. Instagram

I’ve talked about good images as being bright, original, and clear but only really given Facebook examples. That’s because images that do well on instagram are different than those that perform well on Facebook.

Successful Instagram posts tend to feature images with lots of white space, one dominant color, low saturation, colors on the blue end of the spectrum, and a lot of texture. Research by Curalate indicates that in order to get that ‘double-tap’ you want to focus on images with these properties. (Brightness is included, too.) Georgia Tech research also shows that on Instagram, faces will earn more likes than images without faces – in contrast to Facebook.

Bonus information on Pinterest!

Curalate also conducted a study on Pinterest pins. The types of images that get better results on Pinterest have the following features:

  • less than 10% background
  • are reddish-orange (these get roughly twice as many repins as blue images)
  • have multiple dominant colors (3.25 times more repins than one colored-images)
  • aren’t very dark
  • are 50% saturated (these have 10 times more repins than extremely desaturated images)
  • have an aspect ratio between 2:3 and 4:5
  • a smooth texture
  • no faces

Social media users have an appetite for visual content. Invest in unique images and graphics, go beyond those cheesy stock photos, and pay attention to the platform trends. Each social network is different and your images will have to be customized for each in order to drive engagement. I’ll dive into why you should always keep your audience in mind and have a goal for each image in another blog!

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If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of creating and curating a social media calendar, get in touch. We’d love to help pick the best social images for your business.


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