Back to Basics: Choosing and Formatting Social Media Images

By: Marcel

By now, hopefully you’ve heard that social media posts with images get significantly more engagement. That means, the images you use as part of your social media shouldn’t just be an afterthought. Below are some tips and guidance for putting more thought into the images you post.

 

Get the Sizing Right

If there’s one thing that’s worse than not having an image at all, it’s having an image that’s squashed, pixelated, or cropped in a way that doesn’t look right. So, step one should be to find out the standard image sizes for all the social media platforms you use, and edit your images to make sure they fit those parameters exactly. Be sure to look up sizing for posts, as you’ll likely run into many sizes for profile images, cover images and ads too.

For example, on Facebook, a shared image should be 1,200 x 630 pixels. Anything too far away from that and you’ll get results that aren’t ideal. If you’re going to go through the trouble of posting an image, you might as well take the extra couple of minutes to size it correctly.

 

Consider the Layout

Image layout is an art, but keep these tips in mind:

  • Visually-arresting images usually have a single focal point that grabs the viewer’s eye. Keep it simple, and avoid images that have too much going on (unless that’s the point of the image).
  • If you’re cropping from a larger image, remember to retain the Rule of Thirds.
  • People tend to like images that play with point of view. Uber close-ups, or aerial-style drone photography are almost universally loved.
  • Play with symmetry. Does your image have a strong horizontal, vertical, or diagonal component? Emphasize that when you crop, and take that into consideration when placing text.
  • If you’re making an image that contains multiple other images, snap these to a grid and use strong borders for a professional look. You create photo grids easily with free tools like Canva and Fotor.

Sometimes, what you think will work doesn’t. In the same way that you test ads, test a few different images and see which one gets the most engagement from your audience. The answer might surprise you.

 

Be Smart About Adding Text

We’ve all seen images in which the text was hard to read, or was just poorly laid out. To avoid the first problem, only add text to an image or a section of an image that has a generally uniform color, because you can then choose a text color that will contrast nicely with it. Adding text over busy or detailed images images usually doesn’t work well without a color overlay or box.

When it comes to text layout, many of the apps that are on the market make this a snap. Our go to recommendation for free, easy and fast design is Canva. They even give you options for social media post sizes. They have set design templates with photos and text, which takes the guesswork out of design and layout of text.

Finally, remember to use appropriate fonts. Powerful images tend to do better with bold, sans-serif fonts; if you have an image that conveys elegance, you can probably try a script font with it. Some good universal rules are to avoid gimmicky or outdated fonts like comic sans, papyrus or impact.

No one likes a bad font, especially not Ryan Gosling…

 

Pay Attention to Tone

Choosing an image with the right tone is usually the hardest thing to explain or teach. Trust your gut instinct on this—if you’re in a particular industry and an image speaks to you, you likely have a good idea that it will also speak to your audience.

If you feel like you need some new ideas, check to see what your competitors are doing. You may want to do this to get an idea of what images you could be using, but also to choose different images that set you apart from your competition.

For instance, two yoga studios can have a drastically different feel to their social media imagery: one could highlight the serenity aspect of yoga, while the other one highlights more action-based imagery conveying how good of a workout yoga is.

Want good, free stock photography? We recommend checking out Pexels or Pixabay. These sites widely search all the free photography out there to help you find high quality photography.

How have you been using images in social media and what kind of results have you gotten? Let us know in the comments!

About Marcel Krawczyk

Marcel has a diverse background in marketing, small business development, computer science, and sales. After starting and running his first business, a general contracting company, he developed a passion for the marketing strategy aspects. He went on to be the marketing director at a startup which he left to begin Little Jack Marketing in 2010.

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