Simple Tips for More Professional-looking Photos on Social Media

Images are becoming increasingly important when it comes to getting noticed on social media, in particular Facebook, which now prioritises posts that include images and video over text only posts, and Twitter where images are visible in the timeline and of course Pinterest (which is all about image content).

(This article does not cover profile pictures or mastheads which often have to be made to particular dimensions. More on that in a future blog.)

Sharing snaps is OK but if you’re showing off products, your workspace or even your staff then it’s worth making a little extra effort to make your images look better, more professional and ultimately more shareable.

At the risk of upsetting my professional photographer friends, you don’t particularly need a high end camera to get good results.  Images on social media are not meant to be printed and tend not to stick around too long in the stream.  Their main purpose is to grab attention and encourage sharing.  Compact cameras and phone cameras these days all take pretty high resolution photos and, with a little thought, can attain great results!

Here are a few beginners’ tips to help make your images look more attractive online:

  • Make sure your photo is in focus.  Sounds obvious but look around at how many slightly fuzzy photos there are out there.  The problem here is that you can’t always tell how in focus the picture is on the camera or phone screen.  Always try to review your photo on a larger computer screen before sharing it online.
  •  Make sure the picture is well-lit.  If you haven’t got good daylight then you may need to find a bright lamp or two.  Good lighting will help the camera focus and make the colours look vibrant, giving depth to the image.  This is particularly important for product shots where people will want to see close details.
  • Before you publish your image, look at the composition and see if it could be improved by cropping in close to the subject.  Some media let you do this online, WordPress for example, but otherwise you will have to do this off-line in a photo editing app or software package.
  • When cropping, check the background.  Is there too much of it?  Does it look messy?  Removing excess background such as walls, the floor or anything that wasn’t intended to be in shot keeps the focus on the subject of the photo, enhances the overall composition and doesn’t distract the viewer.
  • Look for odd lines at the edges of the photo and try to crop those out, too.  Generally this will give you a cleaner, neater look to the image.
  • Try a square crop.  Cropping an image into a square can look particularly attractive and gives a modern feel to a page.
  • While you’re editing your photos, don’t be overly concerned with file size and don’t over-compress or reduce the size of your images before uploading.  Most (I can’t think of any that don’t) social media and blogging platforms automatically compress and resize your images when you add them and too much compression will result in loss of quality, making your photos look grainy and pixelated.

Here’s an example to show how cropping can improve a photo I snapped on my phone.

Original photo:

Uncropped original image

Image showing the crop area

Final cropped image:

Final image

Good photography can really make a social media post stand out from the rest and, with a little attention to detail and a bit of extra effort, you can really give your quick snapshots a professional feel.  I hope you find these tips useful and please share the results if you try them out in your own social marketing activities.

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