Striking, eye-catching imagery is one of the most powerful tools for successful social media marketing. According to Sprout Social’s 2023 Benchmark Report, images are the second most engaging type of in-feed social content (slightly behind short-form video). And Buzzsumo found that Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than those without images.
Why? Because humans are predisposed to engaging with visual content. Given that 70% of our sensory receptors are in the eyes, It’s no wonder we’re able, on average, to process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
The importance of quality images for social engagement is evident. But how do you translate that knowledge into a social media strategy that works for your business? We’ve got you covered.
In this post, we’ll dig into some practical ways to up your photography game when it comes to social media, including:
- How to find and organize images to create a unified look and feel for your brand
- How to customize visual content for each platform
- How to do it all without blowing your marketing budget
Understand Your Brand
Before you can start gathering images, you need to understand your brand. Your brand is the personality and identity of your business. So, yeah, it’s a big deal.
Any photos you put out on social media should reflect your overarching brand identity, including colors, typography, tone, style and voice. For example, if you run a surf apparel shop, your brand might embrace ocean blues and images of beaches and waves. Photos of snowy mountain peaks won’t be a fit. That’s a broad example, but think about how the brand you’ve curated is represented in every photo that you choose to post on social media. Here are a few questions to ask as you pull together photo-driven social campaigns:
- Who is your target customer? Is your surf apparel for the laid-back island crowd or the extreme sports wave chasers?
- What emotions do you want social scrollers to feel when they come across your brand? Serenity? Excitement? Joy?
- What colors and patterns best represent your brand? How are you capturing that in the images you share?
Get Into the Minds of Your Customers
Knowing the types of images that resonate with your target audience will help you curate the best collection of custom images to use on social media. To get an idea of what works, look at the photos that get the most engagement on your social media channels.
For more in-depth intel, survey your customers about their preferences or analyze images your competitors use. By understanding what your customers want, you can post pictures that will connect with them.
Know Your Platforms
It can feel like there are too many social media platforms to count. But remember, just because they exist doesn’t mean you need to jump on every new social bandwagon. Research which platforms your customers and potential customers hang out on. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a manageable list, consider how you go about sharing photography on each platform.
- Instagram is a highly visual platform. Here, focus on one great photo per post that tells a complete story. Instagram stories are an excellent way to highlight a series of images with text overlay.
- Facebook is similar to Instagram in terms of image size and format. But Facebook is a more text-heavy platform, so incorporating text overlays into your images can effectively grab attention and communicate your message.
- Twitter has a 280 character limit, so keep your actual text short and use images with text overlay to grab the attention. Twitter also supports GIFs and videos, so use them to stand out in the feed.
- LinkedIn is a professional social media platform, so it’s essential to have high-quality, professional images. LinkedIn also supports videos and carousels to highlight multiple photos.
Plan Your Campaign
Social media moves fast. It can be tempting to start throwing up content without a real plan. Resist that urge. Instead, plan out your social media campaigns in advance. Choose a focus and curate content consistent with your brand’s look and message.
Mapping out your campaign allows you to identify the best times to post, the types of content that will resonate with your audience and the channels that work best for your brand. A solid plan also means you can decide which images you want to showcase.
For example, will you gather product shots or showcase a retail store? This helps you stay organized and on track to meet your goals — whether that’s more engagement, growing your audience or pushing traffic to your website.
Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to reuse images. As you grow your audience, you’ll always reach new people. If a photo did particularly well two months ago, reshare it and see how it does now.
How to Get High-Quality Images for Social Campaigns
You have a plan in place, and you’re ready to launch your latest social media campaign, but how do you get the high-quality photos you need? There are a few ways to go about sourcing images, each with pros and cons.
The easiest and most common way to source images is via one of the dozens of stock photo platforms online. But the hard truth is stock photos don’t connect. They perform worse than custom photography online — and what’s more, a Nielsen eye-tracking study found that users are actually prone to ignoring generic stock photos when browsing through a website. Nothing keeps those fingers swiping more than generic, lackluster images.
Need more reasons not to use stock? 5 Reasons to Ditch Stock Photography
If stock doesn’t cut it, maybe you can take the photos yourself? With a good camera and some basic photography techniques, you may pull it off. This option can be cost-effective, but it’s time-consuming and may not produce the pro-level results you’re looking for.
Book a Professional Photo Session
With the rapid-fire nature of social media, booking a professional photographer for every campaign is likely not viable for the average marketing team. Even if you can swing the hefty price tag, coordinating scheduling, invoicing and reshoots with freelance or studio photographers is time-consuming.
Order Custom Images for Each Campaign
There is a way to order custom images for each social media campaign that fit within your branding standards, capture exactly what you need and cost a fraction of what you’d pay in a studio. By leveraging the power of the gig economy and technology, photography platforms like FotoFetch allow you to order precisely the photo you need (of anything, anywhere) and get that photo for less than the cost of a stock photo subscription.
Start Leveling Up
Now that you know the importance of quality images to social media success and how to find and organize the photos that best tell your brand story, it’s time to get started. Keep in mind that consistency is key when it comes to creating a strong brand presence on social media. Regularly update your feed with visually engaging content that aligns with your brand’s message and aesthetic.
Use the tips and techniques we’ve outlined above as a first step in curating a visually stunning social media presence that will help your brand stand out and connect with your target audience. And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Now, start leveling up your socials!