The 1,000 word thing is true. Always has been, but especially in the context of social media. Pictures really are worth 1,000 words.
Pictures are the It Girl of social media. You could post the pithiest, funniest text in the world and have it garner loads of likes and shares.
But add a photo to it and boom! Viral.
Think about image-based memes like Grumpy Cat. Would they be half as impactful or shareable without that cat? That face? No way. Images are the absolute hot on social media, and you need to master how to add them to all your efforts, wherever and whenever possible.
These graphic tips and tricks will help you really amp up your presence.
Why You Need Images:
Images evoke visceral, gut reactions in ways that text alone never can. Sure, a good book can move you or a poem can make you think.
But you have to put in effort and time into books and poems. And if there are two things that web surfers don’t have they are: effort and time. You need to make your online content effortless and quick to understand. To resonate. To like!
Your brain loves images. Your consumers’ brain loves images too. According to this awesome infographic by Inc.com and Visage.co, your brain understands, likes and retains visual content far more than text-only content.
And the proof is in the social network pudding! Think about the hottest platforms out there. Pinterest, Instagram, Tumbler. Heck – Vine! They are all about images first, captions after. Your consumers are expecting to not just read but SEE your content.
Even the text-focused Twitter is affected. Last year, FastCompany.com reported that when Twitter added “inline images” (a.k.a images that display automatically without asking the reader to click a link) Once they did, tweets using pic.twitter.com were 94% more likely to be retweeted.
94%! That’s….that’s almost 100%, people!!
Now do you understand why getting good at adding images to your online content efforts is no longer negotiable? It’s a must-do.
Here are some ways to get better at getting image-y:
The Budding Photographer:
I hope this article hasn’t bummed you out yet and made you feel that you have to be a Photoshop whiz in order to be a successful content marketer. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, when it comes to compelling, effective imagery, you’d be surprised how much of it you literally hold in your hand. Your smart phone could provide at least half of the images that would work well in your content.
Avoid all the photo permissions problems that can crop up when you use other people’s images and take your own! Practice and get good at it (more on that later) and soon you’ll be an image-producing machine.
Things you could snap: behind the scenes images of your office. Whiteboards, staff hard at work, etc. People love a peek behind the curtain. Humanizes you a bit, too.
Or get out in the world. Pick a nice day, pack a lunch and get in the car. Drive around and take photos of things that would apply to your blog posts. If you are a pet groomer, go to a dog park and ask their owners if you could photograph individual dogs. Get their email addresses and tell them you’ll link them to your blog post if their pet ends up being featured.
If you’re a landscape architect, this is even easier. Hit a nature trail and take close up photos of soil, bark, dividing walls…anything that might be an element of your work.
You’d be surprised how many images you can pick up in one day…and you own the rights to them all!
Fancying Your Photos: Two tricks can elevate your photos from so-so to whoa!
First, it’s the tried and true “rule of thirds”. This is a rule of thumb that helps you compose a great photo. Basically, think of your image as having a “tic tac toe” grid overlaid on it.
Now (and you can either do this later when you crop your photo or you can be mindful of it while you’re taking the photo) try to move the most interesting aspect of the photo so it is not appearing within one of the blocks, but rather at the intersection of two of those lines.
For example, this great article by Dolcepics.com show how, when the cute baby face is centered, it results in a somewhat boring shot:
But when you move the face so it aligns to the grid lines, it becomes more compelling and pleasing to the eye:
Also – start playing with filters. I won’t bore you with all the myriad filters there are available to you. Some smartphones even include them! Without even involving a photo editing software on your mac or PC.
But here’s just one example of how playing with filters can make your amateur photos look more pro. This Photography 101 tutorial by Becks Impression Photography has a lot of great tips and I suggest you read it. I mean, look at this image before and after a “polarizing” filter was applied!
Images Aren’t Just Photos: Photos are great, and probably the easiest for you to master. But good online content imagery doesn’t begin and end at great photography. Think outside the camera.
Other compelling images can be things like comics, memes, links to online content and especially infographics!
Infographics are super hot, with good reason. You know how I said earlier that pictures are worth 1,000 words? Well, infographics might be worth a million. Because they cleanly, clearly, quickly convey a lot of information. But in a way that your brain – and the brain of your consumer – can grasp quickly. They are also infinitely more fun for your consumers to repin, like, share or retweet!
There are some free tools out there to help you create your own infographic but if you want to get serious about this, I highly recommend paying the small monthly fee and use Piktochart.com. A writer friend of mine actually used it to make her resume more appealing and she got the job partially because the company loved the sense of style she showed with her resume. (Talk about a case study in the power of graphics!)
But you can use Piktochart in many more ways than schmancing up a resume. Get in there and play around!
If you’d rather be a little less DIY and little more outsourcing, you’re in luck. Graphic designers have realized that there is high demand for infographics and have started to tout themselves as infographic designer. You can hire this task out.
Here’s a quick search for infographic designer on three of the big freelancer boards: elance.com, oDesk.com and Guru.com.
Editing Rules: You can read this subhead either way. The Rules of Editing. Or just “editing rules, dude!” Because it does.
No matter what kind of image you want to use, nine times out of ten you can enhance it by editing it.
If Photoshop intimidates you, or if you simply don’t have it in your budget, no worries. There are a lot of affordable, great tools out there that can help you edit and enhance your images. They offer templates, backgrounds, easy to use editing tools that can make adding images not just easy…but actually fun!
My two favorites are Canva and Picmonkey. You can research which one is right for you by digging into their sites or you can just read articles like this to compare them side by side.
No matter what tool you choose, there are a few “editing rules” that a novice editor should keep in mind.
The first is to be consistent with your colors. Pick one – maybe two – colors you will use to caption or add borders to your images. Consider the reader who is scrolling down through all your blog posts. You don’t want it to look like rainbow barfed on their screen. Brand yourself a bit by keeping the color scheme simple and consistent.
Ditto for the fonts. Pick one – maybe two – and stick with them. Using a whole bunch of fonts will make it look like a serial killer writes your blog. Or at least an amateur.
A final note about watermarking. Watermarking your images isn’t the worst idea in the world. When you post your image to, say, Pinterest it’s nice to know that if gets repinned (like you hope it will) that your branding will ‘travel’ with it.
But don’t be obnoxious with it. Don’t watermark it so much that it obscures the image or makes the photo un-fun for your readers to share. Keep it subtle, maybe in the bottom right hand corner. Pick a small, subtle watermark and consistently place it in the same position on each image.
What are your best tricks and tips for sourcing images to use with your blog posts? What are your biggest fears with adding imagery? Any pet peeves? List them below in the comments. I wanna know!
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