How to optimize your use of images on social media
What piques our interest when scrolling through social media channels is often something visual — a compelling picture, a fun video, an animated gif, a meme or a cool infographic.
So small business owners and entrepreneurs competing for the attention of their target audience on social media must pay close attention to what visuals they use in social posts.
Here are some tried and true ways to optimize your use of visuals on social media channels.
Get the right visual
Pictures speak a thousand words, so invest the time and effort to find the most captivating images.
- Choose pictures that evoke an emotional reaction. Visuals are more memorable when they evoke thoughts and feelings. Use pictures of people's faces when possible — we respond more emotionally to people than to inanimate objects.
- Look for images with lots of white space or contrasting colors. Contrast and white space will make your visual stand out.
- Think twice about using generic stock imagery. Stock images aren't unique to your brand, are rarely representative of your business, and could be used by competitors. "Stock images may seem like a cheap solution — but they come at the hefty cost of making your product or service feel cheap, uncreative, and clichéd," says Invisionapp.
- Take advantage of free image resources without copyright restrictions. You may not always be able to create your own images or pay for original visual content. Unsplash, Canva, and Pixabay offer free images that are more original and of higher quality than your typical stock image, and are a great option when you need a striking image fast.
- Optimize images for each social media channel. You'll want to experiment to see what images resonate most on specific social media channels. Are people more receptive to your industry-related visuals on LinkedIn than on other channels? Are they more likely to love personal pictures on Facebook than your product videos? Test a few approaches and do more of what works for your brand on that specific channel. In addition, make sure to post images in the right dimensions for the channel so that they will show up in people's feeds as intended.
Add video to the mix
Videos are more interactive and engaging than text-based social posts. And they're effective — people are 85% more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video.
But not just any video will provide such results. “Thoughtful, emotive storytelling is the heart of any successful social video," says Hootsuite. “When you want to motivate, persuade, or be remembered, start with a story of human struggle and eventual triumph."
Keep it simple and tell compelling stories that align with your brand values.
Carefully consider color
Nine out of ten of the snap judgments that we make about products can be traced back to color, according to Management Decision. While color is one of the key elements in design and visual representation, there's no inherent ranking as to what colors convert best.
The colors that work best are the ones that fit your brand and that appeal to your customers. If you're a financial services brand, for example, your target audience may find gaudy colors jarring. Also consider what you'd like viewers to feel. Yellow and orange evoke optimism and energy, while green is seen as a more relaxing color.
Include visuals in your marketing planning
To ensure that visuals won't be an afterthought, plan for powerful visuals for your social media posts from the start.
Create an editorial calendar that includes proposed copy as well as associated images and visuals.
Hashtags expand reach and increase engagement
Hashtags are a popular way for people to find content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. It's not a surprise, then, that posts with at least one relevant hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag, according to Simply Measured.
Some social channels allow up to 30 hashtags per post, but don't go crazy. Aim for four or five that best capture your content.
The bottom line
Adding visuals to social posts is a must-do to stand out in highly saturated social media channels. So invest some time and money to get images and video that boost your brand.