//Research tells you how to choose better images for social media

Research tells you how to choose better images for social media



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

Think more visually.

Of course, you already use images. But do you choose the best ones to engage your audience based on what turns out to be an overall success and unique factors of each platform? (Hint: not all social media platforms have the same best practices for successful visuals.)

#socialmedia platforms are not all the same when it comes to #visuals, says @Manish_Analyst. Click to Tweet

Read search-based tips and examples that might help you rethink the process of selecting your brand's social media images.

RELATED CONTENT: Humanize Your Brand: 3 Ways to Create a Social Media Visual Calendar

Create one-size-fits-all visuals for sharing on Facebook

On social platforms, Visual Media performs better than text. According to BuzzSumo's research, images gain 2.3 times more on Facebook than textual publications.

#Images wins 2.3 times more engagement on #Facebook than textual publications via @BuzzSumo #research. Click to Tweet

To promote your long-term content on social networks, use an image that draws attention on social media. Create an image publication related to the content of your blog and cite this content in the text field to extend your reach beyond just sharing text.

Social media images need to be easily consumable, quickly conveying a simple, emotionally impacting message. Here's what the research tells us about the types of images shared:

Show a body part such as a favorite hand or ankle. Convince & Convert's research shows that brand images are more engaged when they show a part of a person, usually a hand, interacting with an object. These partial body images were 29% better than images with a complete person and 10% better than images without anyone. The suggestion behind the research is that consumers are better able to imagine interacting with the product when they see one part of the other interact with it. Seeing a person's face keeps the viewer away from the image. It is interesting to note that the pictures without person or body part received the most comments.
Partial body images of brands perform better than complete people via @Convince & Convert. Click to Tweet
Become clear, bright, vivid and original. The research presented at the International Conference on Information Management in 2018 revealed that the popular images on Facebook had four qualities: brightness, clarity, liveliness and ingenuity. From a technical point of view, the messages of your branding must be well lit and easy to interpret. They should also present something fun and creative. Product images in stock will not necessarily do the job.

Do not forget to look for clues in your Facebook feed – what you see in your feed is an example of what is shared.

Example: The Shein clothing brand is one of the fastest growing brands on Facebook, according to SocialBakers . One of his most shared recent articles was 112 shares:

The @SheIn_official clothing brand is one of the fastest growing brands on #Facebook via @socialbakers. Click to Tweet

Although this article has three actions:

Why? The first is probably more shared because it seduces the public. This is the kind of thing you expect to see in your Facebook feed, which is why people share it in their feeds. The second article focuses on sales (and includes a face), which does not invite users to click on "Share".


Know the visual secrets for Instagram

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

Do not assume that images that look good on #Facebook behave well on #Instagram. They do not usually do it. @Manish_Analyst Click to Tweet
Brighter images
Images with a lot of white space or background space
Colors towards the blue end of the spectrum
Dominant single color
Low saturation images, with relatively gray, faded or pastel colors
Images with a lot of texture

Examples: Consider this post of the Everlane fashion brand.

This product image attracted 15,100 "I love", a solid proportion of its audience of 521,000 subscribers. The image strikes a lot the rhythms of the previous detailed search – a lot of white space, low saturation, bright lighting, lots of texture and probably a single dominant color theme.

This Instagram publication by sportswear brand Lorna Jane is a good illustration of the power of good old "information tools". She has brought about 8,200 "likes", while A simple image conveying useful information is still required to do well.

TIP: Unlike face searches on Facebook, faces on Instagram earn more "likes" than faceless images, according to a Georgia Tech study .
Faces on #Instagram earn more than "I like" than #images without faces via @GeorgiaTech #research. Click to Tweet
HAND-RELATED CONTENT: 4 Tips for Engaging Instagram Content [Examples]

Visualize your data

Speaking of simple images conveying useful information, data visualization can be a powerful way of attracting attention on social media. Informative images tended to attract more ocular attention than text alone and are three times more likely to be shared on social media than documents.

Clare McDermott examined this question in depth . Here are some of his suggestions on how best to create data visualizations for content:

Do not be too smart with your data visualization. Use forms that people recognize as pie charts and bar charts, not new representations that might be too creative for your audience.
Do not visualize everything. Concentrate on the most exploitable or interesting results.
Use subtle design methods to draw the user's attention to the most important points.
Use color with purpose, not for decoration. Use it to separate categories or draw attention to a point. Never use it just to beautify your image.
Do not use a method that ends up being cluttered . For example, pie charts are not the best format if you pass a large number of categories.
Excellent visualization of data is neither fussy nor complex, says @clare_mcd. #dataviz Click to Tweet

Visualization of data is best associated with original research and the introduction of a main magnet such as an e-book or a white paper. Leverage your data in a way that allows your brand to usefully comment on trends in your industry or the general public. This encourages your target audience to share your content and possibly their contact information in exchange for detailed content.

RELATED CONTENT: How to transform complex data into understandable and shareable images

Creating a call to action that elicits a reaction

Shared and popular content does not necessarily send traffic to your site, and content that results in high clickthrough rates may not be shared. The key is to find the right balance with the goals of commitment and CTR. And the call to action should match the purpose of the publication.

Match your CTA with the publication #socialmedia (image and text), advises @Manish_Analyst. Click to Tweet

Example: Forever 21 has published these two Instagram posts, both designed to sell products.

With 40,000 "I like", this image incorporates a person (a high engagement factor). Forever 21 makes it easy to find the product by providing a search code and reminding the public of the store's link in the biography. The call to action is logical because if you like the image, there is a good chance that you are interested in the outfit.

Now, compare that to this other Forever21 article:

This image clearly reflects the sale, but it's not the kind of picture the Instagrammers are looking for. The relatively small number of "likes" (two-thirds of the crooked ticket, even though it was online 50% longer than the product's post display) means that fewer people will see the message, and the post above.

If you want to expand the reach of your calls to action, present your products in a manner appropriate to the platform. Instagrammers are looking for something artificial. Facebook users are looking for something relatable. Tweeters are looking for something interesting, etc.


Social media users are voracious for visual content and are one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal to extend your reach and generate conversions. Invest in unique visual content, take a step beyond stock market images, and pay attention to platform standards for success in the short and long term.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute