Slow The Scroll: How to Choose The Best Social Media Images

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In today’s scrolling and swiping environment, visual content dominates social media. When you draw people in with powerful visuals (photography, illustrations, video, and motion graphics) they’re more likely to pay attention to the rest of your message. Here are some questions you should be asking when posting social media images.

What images get my message across?

Social media images should be easy to consume and convey an impactful and simple message quickly. The right image should provide a preview, connection, or complement to the rest of your content. Avoid visuals that are overly complicated or feel disconnected from your subject matter. If you don’t immediately get it, chances are others won’t either. 

What should the best social media images look like?

From a more technical perspective, they should be well lit, clear, and feel original. Research shows that the most liked and shared images tend to be bright, clear, and creative. Let’s look at the big four…

  • On Facebook, try simple images that are directly related to the rest of your content. Avoid overly complex or abstract imagery. Playful and fun work.
  • Twitter is about short, direct messages—breaking news, big headlines. The images you use should be equally bold, to the point, and add to what you’re saying.
  • LinkedIn is a world all its own. It’s a great place to showcase infographics and visuals that teach or inform. Illustrations are particularly powerful at conveying complex information.
  • Far and away the most image-focused of the bunch, Instagram is where visual influencers are born. A more sophisticated approach, with attention to white space, angles, complementary colors, and editing make a strong impact.

Pro tip: Look for inspiration from the brands and people that you follow. It’s in your feed because other people like it.

What size should the images be?

It all depends on where you’re going to share them. Every social platform has its own specs depending on what kind of images you’re posting and where you want them to show up. Profile picture? Cover photo? Shared image? In-stream video? The names and requirements change regularly and often without warning. Each social platform’s help section is a good source for up-to-date info. A quick Google search is a good start, too.

What resolution should my images be?

Our phones, tablets, and computers are using increasingly detailed and vibrant displays. To make the right impression, you should share the highest quality visuals you can, without sacrificing user experience. Don’t use image files that are so large that they render slowly (show up on screen) or worse yet, time out and drive away followers. Most images intended for the web have a minimum resolution of 72ppi (pixels per inch)—an established standard that is always a good fallback. With content now being created for ultra high-def 4K, 5K, and OLED screens, you should check each social platform’s guidelines to check that you’re using the optimal resolution.

Pro tip: Most social media is consumed on mobile. You have limited space, so make sure your image choices make a big impact.

Where can I get great images?

While it’s surprisingly easy to shoot photos and videos on phones these days, being able to do it well is a bit more difficult. Understanding what makes a great image requires a knowledge of composition, color, light, shape—not to mention an innate artistic skill. If you’d rather leave your visual reputation to a pro, then you’re already in luck. iStock offers an unparalleled collection of high quality, royalty-free photography, videos, and graphics all created by a global network of photographers and artists, and expertly curated by a dedicated team of art directors. With enhanced search tools, boards, and plugins, iStock makes it easy to find the perfect image or video, collaborate with your team or get approval from clients, and incorporate it into your work in your favorite design program. Not a designer or need to post quickly? iStock even has an online editor that lets you customize an image to fit your brand and correctly size it for social platforms.

In short…

There’s no faster, more cost-effective way to reach potentially millions of fans, friends, and followers then using social media correctly. Whether updating your status, posting a new brand video, or crafting a witty dad meme, high-quality social media images and visual content can help your posts stand out and turn your messages into more powerful marketing.

 

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