Is a Picture Worth A Thousand Words?
Not all pictures. But when it comes to Social Media engagement, a great picture can increase readership of your content. In fact, this is an often overlooked way to stand out in the flood of content that ebbs and flows through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and other Social Media outlets.
Go for the beauty shot.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines beauty shot as: "a shot or scene that emphasizes someone's or something's beauty or attractive aspects or qualities." That is the perfect definition of what we want to achieve with the images and photos we submit to Social Media.
What I have discovered is that the beauty of a photo submitted to Social Media is more important than the relevance it has to the content you are promoting. That does not mean that it should not be relevant at all. It should. However, being purely relevant with a boring stock photo will not make your content stand out. A captivating image that captures the eye of the viewer will.
Every Post Should Lead With a Beauty Shot
Fundamentally, the images you use for blog posts and other content will fall into two categories. A beauty shot is the featured or first image the reader should see. It should draw attention to your content. The balance of the photos, of necessity, will be what are termed catalog shots. They may be relevant charts, infographics, and stock photos that illustrate, clarify and support points made in the content.
You only need one beauty shot. That is the featured image that will be seen with your post snippet or caption in Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest. All of these Social Media tools allow you to include a single featured image with your post submission. Choose that image for maximum appeal! It has to capture the eye of the viewer and draw attention to your content.
Avoid the usual generic and overused stock photos
How often do you see the generic stock photo of the businessman or woman holding a smartphone, or the smiling office workers staring at the same computer screen, in all its variations? Avoid them! Stand out by looking for new ways to illustrate your posts. Be open to a wider range of conceptual and abstract images that will create more interest as a featured photo.
Some of the most imaginative stock photos are available online for free. A favorite stock photo resource is pexels.com. This website offers free stock photos for commercial use under the Creative Commons license. They are curated from a wide range of international sources. That gives you the added benefit of tapping into unique visual perspectives provided by other cultures. Seek out the uncommon. Sometimes, finding a great photo is most often not a matter of cost, but of research.
I purchased the image shown below from Creativemarket.com (a great source of inexpensive and creative graphics) for $2.00 (US). It is used as the featured image on one of the main posts in my web design portfolio. But I took it a step further. I tweaked the colors and exposure of the image and added a rain effect in Photoshop to make it more visually compelling. That made the image unique, and more appealing. You can add 'spice' to your stock photos with a few tweaks in Photoshop. Make them your own!
Simply by swapping my former (more generic) featured image for this one, this post saw a 260% increase in likes on Google+ and Facebook. The only change was in my choice of images!
Better Photos = more likes, retweets & mentions.
With a bit of careful thought and effort, you can find photos that add immensely to the visual appeal of your content. In fact, by upgrading the images of existing posts, you can give them new life in Social Media. And, you don't need to spend much to do it! -Don Peterson