How to Work with Images on Social Media

visuals on social media

A picture speaks a thousand words. In the social media world, ‘show’ works better than ‘tell’. Though the written word will never lose its sting, visuals drive communications across social media channels.

As humans, we connect more with images than with text, or even audio and video, which is true also for real life. Even in the digital world, where memory is so short, pictures make a greater impact on the viewer than texts do. Decision making is quicker when prompted by images, as compared to reading a lot of text. Digital marketing not only is moving towards creating engaging written communications but is also focused on producing images that are highly shareable among their community.

According to Fastcompany, there are 53% more likes for photos as compared to text based posts. On Facebook’s top brand pages, videos are shared 12 times more often than text, while links and photos receive twice as many likes as text updates. If you are still not convinced, here are some more facts:

Why is Instagram getting more and more popular?

Instagram is growing faster than Facebook did. Facebook’s multimillion dollar acquisition of Instagram shows that visual content is overtaking written text for communications online.

Are you on Pinterest yet?

Every brand is adding Pinterest to their social media mix. This is because Pinterest now refers more traffic to websites than to Twitter. Pinterest pins appear in search engine results, so that shared images can now become a part of the source to your website traffic.

Google searches for items with images first, before plain text articles. Try it.

Journalists from the PR industry that I have worked with respond to mails when accompanied by good images and these are more likely to be picked up than those without photos. I have learnt this over years of being in the public relations sector.

Images can help with search engine optimization (SEO) too. Search engines crawl metadata that accompany images even though they can’t read images.

Once you fully appreciate the reasons as to why images are the way to go on social media, these tips on how to use images might come handy.

SEO friendly keywords

Images contribute to SEO. You can optimize the photos on your social media pages and websites. Before publishing a post, use the right keywords for your images in your file name, title, alt text and description. Search engines read this data and factor them in when accounting for your rankings in a search.

High resolution, good quality and relevant images

Professional photography helps, although it is not necessary. Clear, well lit images with bright colours and high contrast can get a viewers attention faster as it is with any other medium of communications. Unusual images are good to use but there needs to be relevance to the rest of the content. Images also need to be aligned to your brand and personality. For highly shareable content, make it relevant to your target audience.

Text never goes out of fashion

Using the right text ensures that your audience understands the image used. However make sure you balance out words and images. There are free tools available online as well to marry words with images. I have mentioned some of them in this post.

Brand your image

Use your website URL and logo on your image. When your image goes viral, it gets shared in various social networks. Everyone will know who owns the image. This might not be foolproof but a watermark goes a long way to prevent plagiarism. A thought that needs to go into the process of branding your image is what you want the image to do and where you want your viewers to go.

Get permission

Using an online image? Get permission to do so. Ideally, make your own images or get a professional to do it. Free photos on creative commons search can give you access to free photos with Creative Commons licenses. You need to read the fine print properly before using the images.

Another option is to buy a license, through stock photo websites like ImagesBazaar, Pickapic, iStockPhoto. For a fee, you can access high quality images – however, it is important to again read the agreement for the license.

Give permission

Allow your readers to share your visuals freely. You can include that in your website’s terms of use or page footer. Allow your images to be ‘pinnable’ – if you hover over some images you can see the ‘Pin it’ button that appears – so that the user can pin it to their Pinterest boards.

Put an Infographic in it

If you have a lot of images to explain information, then use an infographic. It is a great way to help someone understand your message, story or concept.

Use the correct size

Ensure that your images are not too large for your blog. Large images will not allow your blog or your website to load fast enough. Use this guide as a reference for sizes to use on your social pages. Merge powerful imagery with original content and it gets shared a lot. Creating original content overlaid with an image ensures that it is shared a lot.

Being responsive

Once your correctly used relevant picture gets likes and the call to action you want, be responsive.Notice and respond to Facebook likes, Instagram comments and pin shares. It gives the user an idea that your brand is watching its users and, more importantly, that it is responsive to them. Here are some interesting tools that I personally use-

  •  Picmonkey – an image editing tool that doubles up as an image creation tool with several templates to choose from
  •  Canva – you can create your own posters with graphic designs for your Facebook pages and blogs using this amazing tool. They also have a stock library of a million photos and some great templates.
  •  Paint.net – download a free image editing tool from here. It is nearly as good as Adobe Photoshop and The Gimp – but freely available online
  • PicCollage – if you are an Instagram junkie, like me, then you can’t miss having this. Creates awesome collages for Instagrams

These were some of my favourites. I would love to hear some of yours! In social media, many heads are better than one. Your best customers are your employees, if you are working in a company or friends or associates if you are freelancing. Enable them and enlist them to share your brand’s content and images on their social media pages – this will ensure a wider reach.

Social media will continue to grow and evolve as more people become active. But, as it grows, it is time we note that images can take your social media strategy miles from where it is now.

Featured Image Courtesy: dietmut

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