How to Select an Image for Social Media

We have some tried & true tips that will help you select and optimize the best images for social media that will engage your followers and most certainly encourage more shares.

Portrait for EnvatoBy Envato  |  Updated October 29, 2020

One of the best ways to build a following and get more shares on social media is to incorporate images into your strategy, but not just any image will do.

That might’ve worked in the very beginning of media integration on social, but not anymore. Nowadays you need to put in some real effort to ensure your images get noticed and shared.

If you’re scratching your head about where to start, not to worry. We’ve got you covered. Taking the latest image trends into account, what follows are some tried and true tips that will help you select and optimize the best images for social media that will engage your followers and most certainly encourage more shares.

Selecting & Sharing the Perfect Image

Beyond the obvious things that make an image high-quality, you need to think about the subject matter of the photos you use.

That means not just using any ol’ high-resolution stock image. It means finding something that speaks to your brand and also leaves an impression on your target audience. Here are some things you should consider:

Using Images That Say Something

That is, pick photos that have a definite point of view and can offer something recognizable. Ideally, any image you select will be identifiable as relating to your brand.

Selecting Photos in Motion

Static images are acceptable sometimes, especially as backgrounds. But when you’re sharing images to social media to complement your content, the subject should be doing something.

Whether that’s physical movement by people or implied movement of inanimate objects, doesn’t matter. What does is that the photo shows something happening. It’s a part of a larger story.

Showing Inspirational Quotes

Quote photos are still a big hit on social media and can be adopted by just about any industry. Use them to offer some food for thought to your audience.

Offering Information

Sometimes the best images can act to directly back up your text. Charts, graphics, infographics, and even screenshots work to illustrate whatever points you’re trying to make and help to break up the visual monotony of a wall of text.

Business conversation by Pressmaster
Business conversation by Pressmaster.

Using Shareable Colors

Psychology plays a major role in what images people share on social media and which ones people tend to just gloss over. Once you find an image that has the content you want, you next need to think about the primary colors it contains.

Little Boy in Cafe by halfpoint
Little Boy in Cafe by halfpoint.

According to a study conducted by Georgia Tech and cited by Buffer, photos with red, pink, or purple in them are shared much more often than those that contain green, blue, black, or yellow.

Optimal Social Media Image Sizes

Once you find the image that you feel is perfect for your social content, you need to make sure that the size of the image is optimized for each service.

This means resizing it so it fits within the specifications of each social service. Yes, you’ll likely need to create multiple versions of the same image.

Quick Tip: If you’re not comfortable using Photoshop or any other professional photo-editing software, don’t worry, there’s a multitude of free image resizing tools and apps available. They’re just simple Google search away: Free Image Resizer.

Of course, most image sizes will work, but each service will either skew or crop the images to make them fit. Your images could end up looking terrible. Nobody wants that.

I could say a lot more about image sizes, obviously, especially with regard to the images you can upload for your social profiles. Buffer have published an indepth post if you would like to read more about the subject.

Canva have also published an awesome cheat sheet for ensuring your photos are all the correct sizes for optimum viewing. You should bookmark it or save it.

You should also consider how you save your image files. Your social images can be indexed by Google, so it’s imperative that you use file names that are descriptive and SEO optimized. You should use a hyphen or underscore in between the words in a file name.

Above all else, you need to think about what images will best resonate with your audience. And that’s kind of art. But if you master it, and keep the above tips in mind, you’ll be golden.

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