Until 2009, the phrase "social media images" had no searches at all. Ever since, interest in using images has been consistently climbing. They are what makes your content pop. Anyone still using text or a canned logo will be left in the dust - and that includes some major sites like Forbes. Pin something from their site and you get a giant black box with the word "Forbes" on it. Don't expect to get any attention or repins on those. But at least they have an image.
The best place to see images evolving is Twitter. Visit the stream of any Twitter power user or click the "Discover" link. Scroll down and notice what catches your eye. How many text only tweets do you read as you scroll? A couple? Now try it on a mobile device. None? Where does your eye go? What has all the favorites and retweets on it? Beautiful photos and images that make you wonder.
Now is the optimum time to be using images on Twitter because not everyone has them figured out yet. Only a small fraction of sites are using Twitter cards. Major publishers are typically still using summary cards. (See Twitter Cards Create Your Own Rich Media Tweets for types of Twitter cards.) Do they not realize those little images next to text are nowhere near as compelling as a full size image is - especially on a smart phone!
Not Just Any Image Will Do
Right now, any full size image will get more attention than anything else you can share. But as more people start sharing full size images, there will not be the advantage there is now. Jump in now and get experience figuring out what images attract the most attention. Benefit now, and hone your skills. It will be much more difficult as time goes on.
When you see images on Twitter that are open by default, those are most likely the images getting interaction. If they include a link, copy and paste it into the Twitter search box and add up how many favorites and retweets that image received. You can also use ShareTally.co to see how popular a post is. Notice how many pins they record on ShareTally or go to Pinterest and use this search: http://pinterest.com/source/domain.com to count them manually.
Use research done on what images are most popular on Pinterest as a guide to what kind of images to use. What works there is likely to work on other social networks with one exception. On Facebook, images that include people's faces are said to work best while on Pinterest some research indicates that images that do not have people in them get repinned more often.
Also consider the psychology of color. Colors generate emotions. Marketers have done substantial research on which colors generate trust and confidence. Choose the colors in your images carefully to match your goals and target audience. The colors that attract women are different than those most attractive to men. Read this Color Psychology Marketing Guide for everything you need to know about colors - including how they affect conversions.
Benefits of Using Images on Social Media
Not convinced yet? Ryan Ernst, Connor Group Director of Communications, pointed out these benefits of compelling imagery to boost social interaction:
- More organic interaction on Facebook
- Higher click-through-rates (CTRs) for advertisements
- More clicks on Twitter posts
Images are critical to all we do on social media and that starts with the content we create. Don't expect your content to do well on social media if it does not contain exceptional visual media. Images are what will get people to click on your social shares and consume your content. They are why visitors will share what you produce.
Use Images as Ads
Solutions that suggest more content to your visitors rely on images. Visit Forbes and you'll see images at the bottom of each post which are Gravity ads enticing readers to click on another story. Entrepreneur places images in the left sidebar, making sure readers see something else that may attract them if their interest wavers while reading the page they're on. Mashable puts images to drive visitors to another post at the bottom of posts and in the right sidebar. The most fascinating image gets the click.
Are the images on your site fascinating? If you only saw the image would that be enough to get you to click? Even small blogs and websites can take advantage of this strategy. Solutions like TrenDemon analyze your content and offer the most popular posts to your visitors. Make sure those pages have exciting images. If they don't, change them! You can use it to push visitors to the pages that generate income for you.
Why pay for images or worry about copyrights when Imonomy will read your content, choose relevant images, and monetize them for you? Free for publishers to use, Imonomy operates similarly to Google AdSense, but displays images in unique ways guaranteed to increase interactions with your users. Some images flip over when users mouse-over or scroll across them to display offers on the reverse side. Instead of losing space to ad displays, the images in your content can be both featured images and ads that only appear when readers mouse-over them. It works with the images you already have or you can let their system provide high quality royalty-free images for you.
Use Images in eMail
Even eMail is more persuasive with images. Just be sure your images display correctly in smartphones. Read these tips on optimizing email for mobile devices. Remember to keep your images low-res and small. This is important on websites and in blog posts; it is even more important on cell phones because they have bandwidth limitations. Don't be eating up all their bandwidth with large, high res images. (Ideally keep images under 120kb; most can be reduced to under 60kb.)
Don't forget your email signature. Even these often have images today. An easy way to have your logo and signature automatically added is to use WiseStamp. Don't forget to include a link to your site to increase traffic. Make it easy for your email recipients to share your emails on social networks, too. More advanced email solutions now have the ability to drag and drop the icons into your template so they'll always be there as you create new emails.
Images Go Viral
If you want your content to get attention, images are not optional. If you want it to go viral, you need captivating images so irresistible anyone who sees them will be compelled to click, favorite and share. Don't be left behind - especially when you can get images that monetize your site absolutely free for the asking.