Research Tells You How to Pick Better Images for Social Media

Research Tells You How to Pick Better Images for Social Media

What can your brand do to improve engagement on social media? Sure, you already use images. (Hint: Not all social media platforms have the same best practices when it comes to successful visuals.) Create bite-sized visuals for Facebook sharing On social platforms, visual media performs better than text. One of its most-shared recent posts had 112 shares: While this post has three shares: Why? According to Curalate research, successful Instagram posts tend to have the following properties: Brighter images Images with a lot of white space or background space Colors toward the blue end of the spectrum Single dominant color Low saturation images, with relatively gray, faded, or pastel colors Images with a lot of texture Examples: Consider this post by fashion brand Everlane. Visualize your data Speaking of simple images conveying useful information, data visualization can be a powerful way to earn attention on social media. Informative images tend to attract more eyeball attention than text only and are three times more likely to get shared on social media than documents. Now compare that to this other Forever21 post: This image conveys the sale clearly, but it’s not the kind of image Instagrammers are looking for. If you want to expand the reach of your calls to action, feature your products in a way that makes sense for the platform.

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What can your brand do to improve engagement on social media?

Think more visually.

Sure, you already use images. But are you selecting the best ones to engage your audience based on what’s shown to be successful overall and each platform’s unique factors? (Hint: Not all social media platforms have the same best practices when it comes to successful visuals.)

Read on for research-based tips and examples that may make you rethink your brand’s social media image selection process.

Create bite-sized visuals for Facebook sharing

On social platforms, visual media performs better than text. For example, images earn 2.3 times more engagement on Facebook than text posts, according to BuzzSumo research.

To promote your longer-form content on social, piggyback it with an image that attracts attention on social media. Create an image post that relates to your blog content and cite that content in the text field to extend your reach further than simply sharing the text.

Social media images should be easily consumable, conveying an emotionally impactful and simple message quickly. Here is what the research tells us about what types of images get shared:

  • Show a body part such as a hand or ankle preferred. Research by Convince & Convert shows brand images get the most engagement when they show a part of a person, typically a hand, interacting with an object. These partial body images performed 29% better than images with a full person and 10% better than images without a person. The suggestion behind the research is consumers are better able to imagine themselves interacting with the product when they see a part of someone else physically interacting with it. Seeing a person’s face takes the viewer out of the “picture.” Interestingly, though, images without a person or body part received the most comments.
  • Go bright, clear, lively, and original. Research presented at the 2018 International Conference on Information Management found images heavily liked on Facebook tended to display four qualities: brightness, clarity, liveliness, and ingenuity. From a technical perspective, your brand image posts should be well lit and easy to interpret. They also should feature something playful and creative. Stock product images aren’t necessarily going to get the job done.

Don’t forget to look for visual hints in your Facebook feed – what you see in your feed is an example of what is getting shared.

Example: Clothing brand Shein is one of the fastest growing brands on Facebook, according to SocialBakers. One of its most-shared recent posts had 112 shares:

While this post has three shares:

Why? The first likely is shared more because it endears the audience. It’s relatable, cute, and well, the kind of thing you expect to see in your Facebook feed, which is why people share it in their feeds. The second post is sales focused (and includes a face), which doesn’t prompt viewers to click “share.”

Know the visual secrets for Instagram

Images that do well on Pinterest and Instagram differ from the types of images that do well on Facebook. According to Curalate research, successful Instagram posts tend to have the following properties:

  • Brighter images
  • Images with a lot of…

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