Traditionally we may think of blogging as a written platform but imagery has become an important part of any blog post. Using a good image on your blog will catch the eye of potential readers and encourage them to click through when it is shared.
Images will also help us make more impact. According to Ragan:
- Content with visuals gets 94% more views
- 90% of data sent to the brain is visual.
- Visuals are processed 60,000 times quicker than the written word
- People retain 80% of what they see compared to 20% of what they read
In this post I will discuss how you can optimise your blog images for social media, where you can source eye-catching images and show you some tools for creating your own.
Before you get started there are some simple guidelines to follow:
- Don’t steal images. It can be tempting to scour Google for an images but if you use those you are breeching copyright. I wil show you how to find free images that you can use later on.
- Name your images – Often when we choose an image or name an image it will be called something generic like Image001.jpg If you rename the image and include a keyword that you would like it to be found with you will see your post come up in Google image search and it will improve your SEO. So before you upload your image re-name it.
For example I have named the image I’ve used for this post as image blog-image-guide.jpg
Facebook updated the way that images share with links earlier this year.
Images used to appear as a small square thumbnail image but now links are accompanied with a large photo. These images are fully clickable meaning that if someone clicks anywhere on the image it will lead them to the web page you are linking to.
Take a scroll through your Facebook newsfeed and see which links have images that attract your eye. For me this one stands out.
Food always works for me and strawberries are a particular favourite. The colour is eye catching too. If you visit the blog post it links to you will see that the full image is much larger and would work when cropped to various sizes.
Of course this is subjective. I love strawberries, for other people a cat, a baby or a sports car may attract the eye quicker.
Remember images will be viewed on mobile devices so try not to use anything too intricate that will be hard to view on a smaller scale.
What size should your image be for Facebook?
The problem with Facebook grabbing the images directly from your site is that it will crop them where it wants to. You can’t change it even if it doesn’t quite work.
As you can see below this cute dog would be far more clickable if I could see his face. To avoid this happening to you it’s a good idea to size your image specifically for Facebook.
Whether Facebook grabs an image from your site or you upload an image it will display at 484 x 252 pixels in the web newsfeed.
In his Facebook Image dimensions infographic Jon Loomer suggests you upload a much larger version (1,200 x 628px) so that Facebook can scale it down. In reality any image over 484 wide that fits a 1.91:1 ratio will work. Anything smaller will show as a thumbnail image when the link is shared meaning that you will loose impact.
What to do if no image shows
Have you ever shared a link on Facebook and no image appears to accompany it? If there is a photo on the website Facebook should be able to find it but sometimes it needs a bit of help.
When you input a link into the Facebook debug tool Facebook will crawl it and find any associated images. Here’s how it works:
Uploading a photo to accompany your link
Sometimes the image from your blog post might not quite work. Maybe it crops badly or maybe you have created one that isn’t seen by Facebook.
Facebook gives you the option of uploading your own image when you share a link, even though this may be slightly more time consuming it could help you get more click throughs.
Here’s how to do it:
- Paste your link into the status update box and write a short update about the link you are sharing.
- To add a customised image click ‘Upload’. This will bring you into your computer hard drive where you can choose your image.
I’ve written before about using images on Twitter. There is no doubting that seeing a strong image in your Twitter feed is likely to attract attention.
There are two ways that you can use images:
1. Attach an image – You can upload a photo or graphic to accompany your tweet. It will take up 21 of your 140 characters but it will help your post stand out.
The downside of using an image is that people often click the image rather than your link expecting to read more. The upside is that they are automatically expanded in the newsfeed more frequently than the second option.
2. Use Twitter cards – I use the Yoast SEO plugin on my blog . This allows me to enable Twitter cards. These cards display a preview of your link as part of your tweet.
The advantage of this is that people can click anywhere on that card and be brought to your post. The downside is that after much scrolling I couldn’t find an organic card (non promoted) in my feed that was automatically expanded. Instead they were hidden under the ‘view summary’ link underneath the tweet.
What size should your image be for Twitter?
As with Facebook if you upload the wrong sized image it can end up being cropped badly. You can’t choose which part of your image Twitter displays before it is expanded or clicked.
Take a look at this image from Monster Energy to see the problem:
You may wish to create a variation of the main image you create for your blog specifically for Twitter. The ideal size for this image is 506 x 253 pixels. You can include images up to 1024 pixels wide with an aspect ration of 2:1.
Pinterest images are different from Facebook and Twitter images in one key way. They are tall and skinny rather than long wide and short. This presents us with a problem when we create images for our blogs.
As you can see from the grab below. The wide images that share perfectly on Facebook look tiny on Pinterest. It is the tall thin images that display best.
The solution of course is to create two images for your blog post. One that will work well on Facebook and Twitter and another that will work on Pinterest.
Take this example from RazorSocial. The picture that displays on the blog post is a perfect fit for Pinterest.
However when I share it to Facebook I find that there is a version of the picture cropped to the correct proportions.
In this case the Facebook friendly image doesn’t display on the main post as it is a ‘Featured Image’.
Note that a featured image will appear in different places on your blog depending on the theme you use.
If your theme displays the featured image on the post it’s worth creating two slightly different images, one for Pinterest and one for Facebook.
Using Alt Text
I talked about the importance of naming your image above but completing the ‘Alt text’ of your image is also important, particularly for Pinterest.
In the example below you can see that the ‘Alt text’ box is blank. You should paste the entire title of your blog post into here. Now when someone shares your link to Pinterest the description area will automatically be filled with you blog post title.
The problem with stock photos
There are multiple stock photo sites where you can buy images to accompany your blog. The problem is a stock photo looks like a stock photo. You have seen them on multiple websites. A group of well groomed people sitting around a table or staring at a computer. If you want to attract people to your blog post and your website you need to stand out. Most stock images are way too generic to do this.
What’s the alternative?
There are lots of ways you can find or create eye catching images. Here’s some of my favourites.
Before I found Photo Pin I used to buy stock images or use my own. Photo Pin is a tool that scours ‘Creative commons’ licensed images from Flickr. These images are free to use as long as you attribute them. The nice thing about Photo Pin is that it makes it easy to include that attribute by giving you the HTML to include in the description when you upload your image.
Canva has to be one of my favourite tools of the year. It allows you to create really cool images for the web. It comes with some handy templates including Twitter and Pinterest posts. You can also input custom dimensions. You can include stock images from Canva as part of your design if you need them and they are very well priced at $1 for single use.
Pic Monkey (affiliate) is a great resource. You don’t need an account you can just start creating straight away. You can design from scratch or upload your own image to work on.
Here’s a video I made on creating Instructographics using PicMonkey. You will see how easy it is to use.
If you take good photos yourself you should start creating a library of images. Tools like WordSwag allow you to add text to your photos that can really make them stand out.
That’s my quick guide to creating and using images for blogging.
- What have I missed?
- What tools do you use to make images?
- What photos work for you?
Leave me a comment and let me know.
Master Social Media one day at a time with the We Teach Social Kindle book I co-authored.