Authentic Imagery Matters


Grabbing attention and influencing action with compelling images is still a top social media marketing strategy. A survey by Social Media Examiner shows that 80 percent of marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing. Nearly a third of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business.

“We are incredible at remembering pictures,” says a study by Brain Rules. “Hear a piece of information, and three days later you will remember 10 percent of it. Add a picture, and you will remember 65 percent.”

What Can’t Be Overlooked: Creating effective social media images starts with understanding the social platform, and why the audience is on that platform in the first place. Is it an in-the-moment experience such as Facebook, or is it a more searchable experience, such as Pinterest? People typically use LinkedIn to make business connections, while they may use Twitter to keep up to date with news.

Instagram leans more artistic, while Facebook is about bitesize pieces of info. Pinterest focuses on crafts, food recipes, fashion and home décor. Understanding how your audience behaves on each platform can determine how you create images and your overall goal for posting them.

“Using boring stock images as your visuals will not help your marketing efforts— you want to create something that is wholly unique.” – Jeff Bullas, online business coach

Keep’N It Real: Social media users can smell a stock image from miles away. People go to social platforms to make genuine connections with friends, family, and brands they love and trust. Being authentic is key, and your images should illustrate that. “Using boring stock images as your visuals will not help your marketing efforts,” says online business coach Jeff Bullas. “You want to create something that is wholly unique.”

Showing real people in real situations creates trust and connection. Overly staged photos or boring product shots without context do not connect on an authentic level. Instead, share images that illustrate genuine stories, offer valuable information, or create context in a compelling setting.

What’s Working On Facebook: According to research by BuzzSumo, images earn 2.3 times more engagement on Facebook than text posts. Since users scroll through their Facebook feed, images should be eye-catching, quickly communicating the message. They should be easy to consume and emotionally impactful.

The most heavily liked images on Facebook, according to an International Conference on Information Management report, have these four qualities: brightness, clarity, liveliness and ingenuity. When it comes to showing pictures of people, research by Convince & Convert shows that images receive more engagement when they show only a body part, such as interlocking arms or a hand holding something. These images performed 29 percent better than images showing a full person.

What’s Working On Instagram: Unlike Facebook, Instagram users tend to prefer pictures of faces. The Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs looked at 1.1 million Instagram photos and found that those with faces were 38 percent more likely to receive likes than photos without. These were 32 percent more likely to attract comments. A Curalate study found these characteristics of impactful photos:

    • Feature a single dominant color
    • Have a lot of texture
    • Tend to be bright
    • Feature a lot of white space
    • Tent to the blue end of the spectrum
    • Less saturation

Visually Connecting With Your Audience: Use social media images as a chance to communicate your brand’s values with your audience. That can apply to the purpose and benefits of your products for potential customers, or the value of the business opportunity for potential distributors.

As examples, Nike creates visual content about sports and staying active. Red Bull does not show a boring can but creates images and videos showing people performing amazing feats that require a lot of energy. Amway’s XS energy drink often depicts people drinking XS on the beach, biking or hiking.

Hubspot says informative images are three times more likely to get shared than text alone. Infographics are another unique way to visually illustrate information. “That is why 41.5 percent of marketers said that graphics like infographics are the most valuable,” Bullas says on his website. “Infographics even outranked the internet’s favorite file format, GIFs.”

Creating A CTA With Images: Just because image content generates a high amount of impressions, comments or shares doesn’t necessarily mean it influences your audience to act. Eventually, you want people to take action. A call-toaction can be created with a simple graphic, perhaps used after a series of other compelling images of people using a product.

Text-based graphics can still effectively communicate brand with fonts, colors and background illustrations. Black Friday deals, flash sales, product launches and live video announcements are just a few examples that encourage people to shop, grab, enroll or watch. Make sure to use the specific CTA word related to the content.

“Do you want your content to stand out in the midst of all the noise online? Visual content is the answer. Neglecting images in your content or using basic stock photos aren’t viable options. You won’t be able to compete with the competition even if your writing is top-notch,” says Bullas.