How to Make Your Blog Images Perform Better on Social Media

How to Make Your Blog Images Perform Better on Social Media

We all know the importance of visuals in content marketing. In the last couple of years, marketers have taken the use of images to the next level in creativity, quality and the use of different formats and publishing platforms.

The days of throwing a one dollar stock photo at the top of your content are over. Really. Stop it.

Today we’ll talk about the imagery supporting the most popular piece of content on the Internet: The blog post.

Most importantly: The featured image of your post.

Why this image is so important, how to create awesome visuals for your content and some great examples.

Why are images so important?

We all know social media link posts with images perform better in terms of traffic generation and engagement.

If you haven’t experienced the difference, you’ve seen the results in several studies. Here is an example of a Twitter A/B test conducted by Buffer earlier this year:

Tweets with images

But we’re not here to argue if you should use images or not, we want to talk about how to get better results by taking them to the next level.

Imagery with purpose

The first thing to consider is having a purpose for the featured image of your content.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many images do you see online that truly support what’s been communicated in the post?
  • How many images stand out in the endlessly stream of content you see on the Facebook news feed or your Twitter feed?
  • In how many of these images do you immediately recognize the source?

Stand out

Content overflow. You know it, you see it every day as soon as you turn on your machine.

It’s so much, you can only hand pick a few as your reading consumption every day.

What’s funny is that there is always a chance you missed on a few great posts, but you usually get the ones that stand out.

Take a look at this overwhelming river of links:

Use images to make your posts stand out

Storytelling

Visuals are supposed to help tell a story. In your blog they have a supporting role, but when they go out into social media, they become the star in the battlefield for attention.

Your blog post published in social networks is like the cover of a book in a library, that cover is supposed to grab attention and communicate what’s inside. In a sense, you are telling a story in one image. Not an easy thing to do.

Let’s take Netflix for example, the following are books turned into television series. See the difference between the original artwork for the book cover and what Netflix has done to market them.

This is Orange is the New Black.

Orange is the new black

And of course, House of Cards.

House of Cards

Which ones do you think tell a better story.

In other words, if you’re writing a post about Twitter, a picture of a bird no longer makes the cut.

Context

One of the most common mistakes I found after reviewing hundreds of blogs is that many headlines and images make perfect sense when you are in the blog, but once you take them out and they become a standalone piece in a social feed of all kinds of topics, they don’t make sense at all.

Your image and your headline need to provide context, otherwise we don’t know what you’re talking about.

The lack of context in your social media posts will hurt the number of click to your blog.

Branding

Branding is also very important but, you don’t often recognize where the post is coming from without reading the title, description or the domain.

Jon Loomer is a great example of this. To be honest, I don’t know if I could put my face in every single featured image, but what Jon has accomplished with this and being consistent with the brand (colors, fonts, layouts, etc.) is that no matter where you are, you immediately recognize his content on the screen.

Here is an example:

Another important aspect of using clear branding elements on your images, is that you have fewer chances of your images being stolen. I’ve seen many images I created being used on other blogs, you probably have too. I can assure you no blogger will be stealing Jon’s images any time soon…

Custom imagery

Creating custom images for your content gives you all the benefits we mentioned above. Like I said before, bloggers and marketers have taken this to the next level.

Let’s explore some of those examples:

Rebekah Radice

I love everything Rebekah does with her featured images, high quality graphics, great use of fonts. This is from her post Secrets to a Powerful Blog Post.

Rebekah Radice

Peg Fitzpatrick

Peg also does an awesome job. This the featured image of her post 9 Sparkling Ways to Make Your Online Brand Shine.

Peg Fitzpatrick - Create custom graphics for your blog posts

Dimensions

We know each networks is slightly different when it comes to link post image dimensions, and while you could craft an image for each one of them, your reader will only be able to share the one on your blog post.

What you should do then, is create one that will be the best fit for all of them.

I optimize for Facebook dimensions, that seems to work for all other networks. My images are always the same size: 1200x628px, which is a ratio of 1.91:1.

Let’s look at the same link post in the 3 social networks:

Facebook

Twitter

Google+

Failing to use the correct dimensions will probably result in the same thing that happens when you are watching a high definition TV but the content is not HD, the black bars, or your image is cut off, either way, not the best first impression.

Where to find images

Where to find photography for your blog posts

Stock photography is obvious, it’s lazy, and everybody knows it costs you about a buck.

We’ve all used them, I’m guilty too, but this is a different time.

But you still need good photography, so here are a few places where you can find high quality, royalty-free and at very affordable prices or even free.

Where to find graphics

Where to find high quality graphics

With the amount of graphics available online and the crazy low prices, you can pretty much hack your way to great design.

Here are few options to find great graphics, some are free, others are very affordable:

Tools to create custom images

Canva

If you don’t have access or the necessary knowledge for tools like Photoshop or Illustrator, don’t worry about it, these tools have made it so easy anybody can be a designer.

Format

Most people will use JPG format when using photography, we’re used to it.

Besides, JPG is a lighter format, which is important to reduce loading times.

BUT, when it comes to using text or flat colors on top of photography, it’s better to use PNG.

Let’s compare both formats on Facebook:

Comparing JPG vs. PNG on Facebook posts

The compression some of these networks apply to your images is so high, they can really damage the quality, but they need to keep their sites loading fast.

My conclusion, PNG for the featured image, so it can display nicely on social sites, and JPG for the rest of the content so your site keeps loading fast.

20% Text Rule

If you are planning to promote your post on Facebook, it’s important that you follow the 20% Text Rule, if you want it to be approved.

If you’re not familiar with this, it basically ensures that the text in the image doesn’t exceed 20% of the real estate.

To test your image, you can use Facebook’s Grid Tool:

  1. Upload your image
  2. Click on the boxes that contain text
  3. Your text should not cover more than 5 boxes

In this example, the text cover 6 boxes, which is 24% of the ad, and it will probably result in an unapproved ad.

Facebook 20% Text Rule

Again, this only applies if you plan to promote the post on Facebook.

Make sure the right image is shared

I’m sure you’ve seen your post shared on social media with the wrong image, or even an ad on your sidebar, after you worked hard on creating a nice featured image.

There are ways to control which image is automatically displayed when visitors share your post, the easiest method is probably using the plugin WordPress SEO by Yoast.

Of course that is not all the plugin does, but this is not a post about SEO. By the way, I’m one of those guys that insists in having the least amount of plugins possible, but this one is an absolute must.

The plugin adds a box right below your editor in the Post Page, here is what you need to do:

  1. There are 4 tabs at the top of the box, click on “Social”
  2. Look for “Facebook image” and “Google+ Image”
  3. If you’re using an external host, like Amazon Web Services, just enter the image URL, or click “Upload Image” if you host the images in your own server
  4. Save

Wordpress SEO by Yoast

Now, every time a person shares your post, Facebook will know which image to pull from your blog.

Control which image is share on social media

Image optimization

Image optimization is one of the most overlooked opportunities online. If you don’t optimize your images, you are pretty much sending them to war without any weapons.

Let me show you what I mean. This is a search for the term “Facebook Tabs” in Google Images. In the top results, you’ll find 3 images that belong to SocialMouths, if you click on them, you’ll be directed to the blog page.

What’s so impressive about that? These images belong to a post published more than 3 years ago.

Do I need to say more?

Google Image Search

What’s scary is the amount of bloggers that still don’t take advantage of this, even today, when we have entire networks of 100% visual content.

This is why I always do the “Pin experiment.” Pinterest pulls the “Alt Text” of your image to use as the “Description.” If you don’t optimize this, you can end up with a description that makes no sense, a file name, or even no description.

Consequences? Good luck showing up in Pinterest search results, or any other results, really…

All you need to do is add this information when you upload your image to your WordPress.

Add the Alt Text to your images

So when your visitor shares your image, the description is already in place.

Pinterest image description

Chances that the person sharing will add the description for you are very low.

Let’s recap then…

What should the perfect blog post image have?

The perfect blog post featured image should have the following ingredients to perform better on social media:

  • It should stand out
  • It should help tell a story
  • It should provide context
  • It should include your branding
  • It should use dimensions that display correctly, at least on the major networks
  • It should maintain its quality (PNG format)
  • It should only include 20% text if you plan to promote on Facebook
  • The networks should be able to pull the correct image when it’s shared
  • It should include a description

How about you?

Do you have a process to work on your blog’s featured images?

Image source: Graphic Burger

  • http://www.makementionmedia.com/ Jen Havice

    Wow! This is such an awesome post. The first thing I need to do is write a new blog post. Then, I’ve got to work on my images. I’m bookmarking this post.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    BRILLIANTTTTTTTT

  • http://www.freepik.com/?utm_source=Disqus&utm_medium=Comment&utm_campaign=Comblog Freepik

    Awesome post, Francisco. Thanks so much!

  • http://mypielgrzymi.com/ Kuba Pigóra

    Awesome post Francisco. The only thing that’s missing are social share buttons at the end of your article 😉

  • http://blog.propelad.com/ Emma O’ Neill

    Thanks. This is a great post. I’ll definitely be using some of these resources.

  • Carey

    I just started blogging myself and I’m happy to report that I’ve nailed nearly every thing on this list — except the alt text optimized for Pinterest. I’ll be adding that to my worksheet. Thanks for the heads up, Francisco!

  • Stevensen Liu

    Your blog is like a search engine optimization magazine. All templates are cool and attractive. God bless

    wordpress free themes

  • http://www.TanyaSmithOnline.com/ Tanya Smith

    Super awesome post, Francisco, as I’ve come to expect from you 🙂 You rock! It’s evident in so many of the “great” blogs that visual imagery makes the difference. Easier to share and communicate a message quickly even before the text is read.

  • http://inmarketingclub.com/ Josue Valles

    Hello Fransisco.

    What a great blog post! It really changed my way of thinking about how images can influence people and social shares.

    Here’s another useful tool: piktochart.com

    Piktochart is an infographic creator, but you can tweak it to create awesome graphics for your blog posts like this one:

  • Zara Imrie

    Sliding down through the write-up (from up to bottom) itself seems truly catchy. The facts you have provided on content marketing with the skills required for social media optimization – are pretty
    awesome; graphics with the texts pictured along, enriches the readability so far.

    Efforts put through such online marketing strategies to increase viewers’ engagement are of much value (likely turning site traffic into future buyers or followers).

    Would like to stay amazed by upcoming posts! Thanks.

    Cheers,

    Zara

  • https://plus.google.com/109268926655243601047/posts Sophia Wynn

    Organization appraisers are regularly requested to supply their opinion of an ownership interest’s fair-market price in a holding company. Such inspections are needed paperwork for gift and estate tax filings. A typical complaint from attorneys is regarding time it will take to get ready the survey survey. In many instances, delays will be the result of unfinished or inaccurate answers to document and info needs in the appraiser. If the buyer can give ample paperwork in the beginning of the diamond, it end in the final appraisal record stepping into the fingers of the attorney significantly quicker and should hasten the survey report procedure. The goal of this informative article would be to discuss the files and as a way to prepare their value report information organization appraisers would like to receive. Business Tax Planning

  • accessheating

    Very very very awesome post. A lot of care and time went into everything you’re preaching here! And, thanks for the tips!

  • http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/01/prweb11452427.htm David Beres

    Possibly one of the most inexpensively they’ll also save cash at the gas pump, and priced automobiles costs not less than Motorcycles, frames – some types get up to 60-70 kilometers per gallon and as a result of their applications that are smaller. Bikes enable you to go they emit a lesser number of pollutants that damage the surroundings, besides saving you inexperienced. Victory motorcycle dealer

  • https://plus.google.com/109288182862589862425/posts George Raggs

    The IRS has required that citizens who happen costs develop to get, or improve fixed assets abide by new decline regulations. All citizens this pertains to must adopt these new restrictions for that 2014 tax year. The use is considered an accounting approach change and requires form 3115 to be filed. The planning of this sort can lead to charge and more hours for several 2014 dividends. Business valuations

  • http://www.infoartblog.com/ Haydn Symons

    A great blog post which is packed full of great content that a lot of bloggers can find useful!

    I especially agree with using the right image format, which I’ve learnt from over time. PNG files are a lot cleaner and easier to read than JPG’S, which sometimes gets overlooked – so it’s great you talk about this topic.

    Will make sure I share this to my audience!

  • http://www.rippledesign.org/blog/ Gianfranco Filice

    Hey Francisco,

    Great post! Being a teenager entrepreneur, it’s really important for me to engage with my audience to great awareness for my start-up. Especially having a targeted market of Gen Z, they are extremely visually-oriented. All of your tips will be create to apply to my current marketing strategy.

  • chrismarklee

    I use my Facebook Business page to target my local income tax customers. My marketing focus is funny clean images, My focus is building relationships..

    Chris
    Owner CEL Financial Services
    Please visit my directory listing for all your Income Tax Fillmore needs.
    http://www.joesdata.com/companies/CEL_Financial_Services_Fillmore_Income_Tax_Preparation_9980054/1.html

  • http://www.petescycle.com/ Rosa Barger

    The membership cover experience ranges and all ages – in the newcomer who just obtained her first cycle towards the seasoned who’s observed his fair share of kilometers around the open-road. You are given the chance to encounter fresh spots to drive, and increase your world by using using the club members. Triumph motorcycle dealer

  • Seray

    Thanks a lot for the tips!

    And there are great free tools out there we love to use!

    http://www.snugsocial.com/2015/01/05/want-to-make-your-own-designs

  • http://gatelogix.com/blog/marketing/seo/seo-tips-not-to-ignore-while-blogging/ saima chaudhry

    Images are very important for businesses online presence whether these are in the website pages blog posts or social media or any other source of website pages, It helps to keep the visitor engaged and to get their attention.

  • Samantha Bayer

    This article was an extremely helpful “how-to.” As we all know that images are critical components of effective blogs, rather than spending time convincing the reader that they need a good image to go with their blog (as almost anyone could be convinced of within seconds), ample time was spent on telling the reader how to get quality images that will serve their intended purpose. The step-by-step considerations for picking and generating images was helpful, as were the links provided.

  • Yair Sarfaty

    This is a great post because of many things. It is easy to see how social media companies like Facebook, and others are moving towards more visual content. I think that also it is very important that, if you are trying to post a different image in each social media account, they should be consistent with each other.

  • Andrei Baklinau

    Nice article! Thanks!

  • Parma Links

    image should relevant to your subject

  • http://www.digitalinsights.in/ Digital Insights

    Great post! visuals not only do they make you stand out, but it also leads to great engagement. The image you want to share, should convey the same message as your headline and body of the post!

  • apoorvayoga
  • luliawatson

    Awesome blog posted.

    Social Media Marketing Services

  • Jamie Barnes

    very nice info

    Social Media Marketing

  • Savage Acee

    thanks for the info

  • Britta Smyrak

    Thank you for sharing your “pin experiment”. Finally “Alt Text” makes sence for me!

  • http://blog.kozzi.com/ Kozzi Images

    Great article and I completely agree with the need for great images. I would like to recommend Kozzi Images with over 2 million inexpensive or free stock images http://www.kozzi.com/ Every image can be embedded into your blog for free.