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Things to Consider When Selecting 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.

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.

Washing Hands by xilius from the Unstock Collection Being Human.

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.

Girl jumping into water
Girl Jumping Into Water by chloeboulos from the Unstock Collection Life is a Journey.

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.

vintage collection
Group of Vintage Objects by halfpoint from the Unstock Collection Details and Little Things.

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.

Classic Vintage Racing Bike by markusspiske from the Unstock Collection A Way of Life.

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
Business conversation by Pressmaster from the Unstock Collection Busy and Connected.

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 from the Unstock Collection The Art of Food.

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.

Here’s a quick rundown of the optimal image sizes for each of the most popular social services:

Social Network Header Image Profile Image Shared Image
Facebook 851x315px 180x180px 1200x630px
Twitter 1500x500px 200x200px 1024x512px
Google+ 1240x700px 250x250px 497px (Width)
Instagram N/A 110x110px 1080x1080px
Linkedin 646x220px 400x400px 646x220px
YouTube 2560x1440px 98x98px N/A
Tumblr N/A 128x128px 1280x1920px

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 an art. But if you master it, and keep the above tips in mind, you’ll be golden.

About the Author Brenda Stokes Barron

Brenda Stokes Barron is a professional writer and blogger and The Digital Inkwell is her personal brand. You can often find her typing furiously at her local Starbucks.