Images are important in digital, print, and OOH advertising, but one of the places they’re most important is on social media. A user will see an ad on social for only a few seconds before deciding to pause or keep scrolling. It's important to capture their attention in that brief moment, and there's no better way to draw someone in than with a stunning visual. When choosing images for social media, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

 By funkyfrogstock / Shutterstock


Stand Out (But Not Too Much)

First, try to find an image that stands out from the feed, while still looking like it belongs. Using calls to action (CTAs) and a lot of text will make your social ad look like an advertisement — and then users are more likely to scroll past. Instead, you want to provide content that users might actually want to share, while blending in with the style and aesthetics of each social network.

Use Strong Colors

You can also stand out by opting for slightly catchier imagery, using bright colors and simplicity to catch a user's eye on both mobile and desktop devices. Try to choose images that focus on one subject, so that it's easier for users to process the image while they're scrolling past. Simple, bold images will also translate the best into the many different sizes and shapes of social ads.

By ZoranKrstic / Shutterstock

Don’t Be Too Literal

Image choices don’t always have to tell the whole story. Instead of choosing the most descriptive or literal image for your messaging, try to convey an idea or an emotion. In Facebook’s ad create tool, you have the option to “Search” and get access to stock images powered by Shutterstock. Use keywords like “love” or “excitement” to search, and you’ll find images that are better tailored to your concept, without being overly specific or limiting.

Test Out Different Options

Posts with images see 35% more retweets on Twitter, so it’s no question that you’ll want your messaging to have a visual element. But once you’ve decided on an image, there are still many more choices to choose from. On Twitter you can promote a tweet, advertise an app, and more, plus you can use videos, Twitter cards, or regular tweets with images. Facebook offers several different options as well, and it’s important to test the waters and do your research to find out what’s best for your brand. (If you want to find out more about why you should be testing, see what John Miller, Digital Marketing Manager at Shutterstock, had to say!)

Overall, you want to make sure your social imagery reflects your brand’s values, while enhancing (rather than distracting from) your key message. You’ll see the most success when your image matches your copy, aligns with your landing page, and fits with your brand style. It’s important to tell a full story on social, and don’t just rely on one piece of the puzzle.


By Sarah Maloy, Content Marketing Manager at Shutterstock.

Hear more from Shutterstock on the use of visuals in digital marketing and why testing is crucial, at the Digital Marketing Show Mid Term on the 13th May 2015. Book now to get your place! 

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