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Your Social Photos are Bad. Here’s How to Make Them Better (Part 1)

It’s well-known that we humans are visual creatures. It’s the reason why magazines are jammed with full-page glossy photo advertisements. It’s the reason we can’t tear our eyes away from the flickering TV screen when it’s on.

And it shows in our engagement online. According to Kissmetrics, Facebook posts with photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs than text-only posts. And according to a recent Twitter study, tweets with photos attached get retweeted 35% more than those without.

But here’s the rub: a photo doesn’t automatically make a post perform better. In fact, a bad or simply boring photo can have the opposite intended effect; reducing engagement and leaving your social feeds sounding like crickets.

Yes, photo content and quality matters in marketing, but if you’re like most small businesses you’re working with a marketing army of one. You can only do so much, after all. Maybe you’d love to take a photography class but your budget and time constraints don’t allow for it. Or maybe you’re great at strategy and analysis but simply not as confident on the creative end.

Whatever the reason, you don’t have to continue settling for mediocre. Try these creative tips to help you get the most out of your social photos:

The creative

A good photo begins before you even press the shutter button. These approaches can help you hone your creative eye for photography:

Change your point of view. Literally. Crouch down on the ground or try standing on a chair to get a different angle on your subject.

This wouldn't have been as fun of a shot if the photographer had stayed on the ground!
This wouldn’t have been as fun of a shot if the photographer had stayed on the ground!

Pick out shapes and patterns. Repeating elements are a great way to draw viewers’ eyes as their brains can’t resist trying to solve the “mystery.”

Tell a lot by showing a little. Try moving closer to your subject or cropping a photo down to highlight just one part.

You don't have to see the whole pan to know it's delicious!
You don’t have to see the whole pan to know it’s delicious!

Pay attention to the background. Is it too cluttered and distracting? Is there a light pole coming out of your subject’s head? Clear the frame or move and try again.

Use negative space to your advantage. Negative space is the “empty” space surrounding an object. It takes some practice to balance the two together, but getting it right adds eye-pleasing drama to your photographs.

The black shapes of the trees are balanced here by the white "negative space" of the sky.
The black shapes of the trees are balanced here by the white “negative space” of the sky.

Tell a story. Look at the relationship between your subject and its surroundings and try to spin a narrative around it. Sure, you could take a snap of one of your products isolated against a blank wall, but if you take a photo of it on the assembly line you’re sharing the story of how it’s made.

This photo of a barista against the wall of his coffee shop is much more compelling narrative than just the barista or wall alone!
This photo of a barista against the wall of his coffee shop is much more compelling narrative than just the barista or wall alone!

A pop of color never hurt anyone. In fact, color can be a great eye-catching technique.

The neutral foreground and background make these boats stand out even more.
The neutral foreground and background make these boats stand out even more.

Quick popularity tip: Nature, animal, or food photos are generally the quickest way to your followers’ hearts. An animal eating food in nature is perhaps the ultimate trifecta of adorableness — and perhaps the most difficult to take. Failing that, though, a candid snap of the office dog hard at work napping, a shot of the saturated colors on the leaves of the trees outside, or a close-up of an employee’s delicious birthday cake are surefire ways to up your like counts in your feeds.

In my next post, I’ll cover technical tips for better social photos. Until then, happy shooting!

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