Without images, your content is not compelling. How much time are you wasting creating, finding and resizing images? Are you sure you're making them the right size to load quickly while staying sharp and grabbing attention on social networks?
In How to Use Your Image Portfolio to Go Viral on Social I explained why you must use images and how to use them. Today, I'd like to share a brand new resource for finding free images, photos, vector images and videos.
Content creators and social media management teams are fortunate that more and more free images are becoming made available. IM Creator just released IM FREE, specifically dedicated to curating free resources specifically approved for commercial purposes. (Many free media sites restrict free use to only non-commercial use.)
Users can search by keyword or category. Selecting one image will show suggestions of other related images at the bottom of the page. All of the images I spot-checked were reduced to an ideal resolution of under 60kb. (Some may be larger - I only checked a dozen or so.) Attribution to the image owner / creator is required.
Tradeoff Between Quality and Load Speed
A major challenge is reducing images so that they load quickly, yet maintain sufficient quality to be clear and really pop when shared online. While we can easily reduce images with GIMP or something similar, reducing them can cause images - and especially text - to be fuzzy.
Canva makes it easy to create your own images. That can make it easier, but images created using Canva are often larger .png images than optimum. Reducing them or saving them as .jpg can make them smaller - but cause the fuzzy text I mentioned previously.
Even with tools like Canva, image creation is time-consuming and not everyone has a talent for getting professional results.
"A Canva survey of 500 small to medium U.S. businesses found that nearly 80% of companies reported that non-designer employees were tasked with creating some form of visual content."
To alleviate challenges with creating and optimizing images, Canva is rolling out a new paid version: Canva for Work. The free version will still be available; the paid version launches in June 2015.
Get Serious About Images
Small businesses, freelancers, writers, and serious bloggers all need to get serious about using images and videos in every piece of content they create. Without compelling images to use to push your content across social and grab potential readers' attention, even the most compelling titles may not be seen.
Where previously, the title was the #1 reason content got the click, today even on Twitter - titles go flying by without being seen; it is the IMAGE that gets the user to stop long enough to read the title. Yes, the title still needs to attract attention - to get that click - but first you have to get the user to slow down long enough to read it.
Mistakes Major Brands Make on Twitter
If you want the most attention, you need big, bright images. Don't make the mistake sites like Forbes and The New York Times make. They use little images or their brand logo in their Twitter cards. For them, branding and looking professional are apparently more important than using an image that actually gets retweeted or shared.
Don't make that mistake yourself. This video shows the difference between a Twitter stream full of images that get attention, retweets, clicks, and favorites and all the other tweets that get ignored. What holds true on Twitter is also true on all the other social platforms.
The more companies focus on creating impressive visuals, the less attention text only content receives. As you can see in the video, Forbes is using big images when they share their own content. It is their Twitter cards that are not pulling full size images. Look at the difference in retweets and favorites on those images. There is no doubt that those who optimize their media usage and use the most compelling visuals will win the contest for our attention.