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Every picture tells a story – How to choose images for social media

Images in social media

We all make mistakes. It would be completely unrealistic to assume that you can go through an entire working day without making the odd typo or spelling mistake, for example. It’s human nature to make the odd error, and it's also entirely understandable. That said, some mistakes are not quite as easy to understand. One of these is using images for social media, blogs and other online purposes that are unsuitable and/or inappropriate.

Where an occasional typo says you made a little mistake, the wrong image can say you don’t know how to post properly, or worse still, you didn’t care about your content. Here are five mistakes I see regularly that can be easily avoided…

  1. Pixelated images. – Without getting overly technical, digital images are made up of tiny ‘blobs’ (for want of a better word) called pixels that work together to produce the final picture. As a rule of thumb, the more of these there are, the sharper the picture. Normally you cannot see them, but if you increase the size of a picture, it does not magically produce more pixels. They just get bigger – and then you do start to see them. The image becomes blurry or seems to break up into squares.
  2. Unrelated imagery – Pictures that are not really related to the content of the post. This is a really strange thing to do when you think about it. The purpose of the image is to tempt people to read your post and share or react to your content. If you choose the wrong picture when your audience looks at the content – they will just be disappointed.
  3. Uninteresting images. – See the previous hint for why? The image in your post is supposed to be making people want to read it. When someone is scrolling through a lot of information, they are very unlikely to stop for something that hasn’t grabbed their attention.
  4. Badly shot pictures – Posting your own images is something we encourage. They are more personal, they create familiarity, and they make you more approachable; they allow your audience to start to bond with you! However, you still need to make sure they are good enough to be seen. You don’t need to be a professional photographer (in fact, part of what makes this type of content work best is that it is not over-produced), but you do need a clear, suitable image.
  5. Watermarks and copyrights – Please, please, please only use images that you have the right to use. It is surprising just how often you see a photograph on a post with ‘Shutterstock’ written across it. Those images are not free to use and as well as telling your reader you didn’t care what photo you used, you are breaking the law.
Image cheat sheet

The images you use have a big impact on how your brand is perceived online, as well as the effectiveness of your social media posts in terms of conversions. Unlike the occasional accidental spelling mistake or grammatical error that may slip through, the mistakes made in selecting images for social media use, or for your blogs, do not come with a built-in excuse. Here's why – an average article will have around 650 words and somewhere in the region of 3000 – 3500 individual characters. That is 3000+ opportunities to make a tiny mistake. That same article will also contain one or two images. When you think about it like that, you have to ask if ‘unable to get two things right’ is the way you want people to think about your business.

Do you know that old saying about a picture painting a thousand words? Well, it’s important to make sure you don’t post an image that says a thousand bad things.

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