Facebook Is a Very Visual Communication Channel

You don’t have to spend much time on Facebook to know that images dominate the News Feed.

Whether they appear on their own or are linked to other content, images are everywhere. But as more images find their way into the News Feed, it becomes harder for your images to stand out and receive the reach and engagement you hope for.

Image posts really do drive more engagement!

  1. Images catch attention on a cluttered News Feed.
  2. Images quickly present information in a compelling and an even emotional way.
  3. They tell the story and successes of an organization.
  4. They are easy to share and therefore expand your cause.

Images also support your mission:

  • They generate Facebook traffic by getting more likes, comments and shares on Facebook to grow and cultivate relationships with your audience.
  • They generate link traffic by driving people to an organization’s website, off-site web forms such as Convio or Salsa, or an action within Facebook such as an ActionSprout social action (quick note: link posts often do a better job in driving clicks).

So what’s a Page manager to do? Don’t sweat it!

Here are 10 best practices to boost the power of your images:

1. Think about What Your Audience Wants

When you post, think to yourself: “Why would someone else share this image?” Typically, things that do well on Facebook include cute animals, scenes of nature and cultural icons.

These do well because when your supporter likes or shares an image, it’s not just about what they like personally. They are liking it because of how it will make them appear to their friends and what they think their friends like.

Does it make them look smart, compassionate and funny to their friends? Do they think people will appreciate it? Is it an important issue so they want to inform others about it?

To find images like these, check out Pages doing great work on Facebook. For example: OurTime.org and the Snow Leopard Trust. You can use the Inspire tool or our standalone free Page Analyzer to surface the best of the best from these Pages. When reusing others’ work, be sure to properly attribute.

2. Take Note of the Emotional Content of Photos

Are the people truly smiling with their eyes? Do their emotions match what you are trying to share in the photo? Do they fit with your organization’s voice and audience? How will people feel looking at them?

Upworthy describes a shareable post as being “awesome, meaningful, and visual”. What might those qualities look like and feel like for your organization and for your supporters?

3. Be Timely

See if you can have a photo ready to go when there is breaking news in your world.

4. Use Text to Give Images Context, or a Twist

This can include adding text to the photo itself, and/or describing the image in the header. Often images can’t stand completely by themselves. However, you should be careful to not cover up what makes the image attractive in the first place. (There are free tools that add text to images.)

If you are planning on boosting the post with a Facebook ad, keep in mind that the text can’t take up more than 20% of the image. You can check the percentage of text in an image by using this handy tool.

5. Consider the Specs on Facebook

If you are uploading an image to Facebook, it should be 472×394 pixels. If you are picking a photo to illustrate a link, the optimal size is 1200×628 pixels. You can resize images using various image editing software.

6. Pay Attention to the Visual Elements of Your Photo

Images should be attractive and of high quality to encourage people to share them. Images should also have vibrant colors and bold contrast, which you can also adjust for using a photo editing tool.

Make sure the image is simple and not crowded—it will help draw the eye and stand out in a cluttered News Feed. And finally, try original-looking imagery as much as possible. If it looks like a stock photo from a catalog, you’ll want to keep looking!

7. Be Mobile-Friendly

Remember that 78% of US Facebook users are mobile, and that percentage is still rising. You should pick images that will look good on both mobile and a desktop. This tool can help you see how your image will look on mobile if you need to check. Just put the link to your Facebook post into “Website to Emulate” to see how it will look.

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8. Image or Infographic?

Decide if you can capture what you want to share in an image or an infographic. If you are trying to get a simple idea across, a photo is probably enough and you can add some overlaid text to hit it home.

If you have a whole series of data that tells a more complex story, an infographic is a good way to do that.

9. Find Your Community

To find imagery that will perform well on your page, like Facebook pages of organizations who do a good job in your field, explore the Page Analyzer or use Crowdtangle lists.

These tools will show you what types of images are performing well that you could reshare or pull inspiration from. If you have an in-house photographer and/or designer, this could be a good use of their talents.

10. Be Experimental

Try different things and use Facebook Insights and the Page Analyzer to see what succeeds by tracking likes, comments and shares. This will help you see who is really engaging with your content.

When posting, use the 80/20 Rule. 80% of images should be proven to be engaging. Repost your own best material, craft images that look similar to other ones that have done well with your audience, or simply reshare posts that have done well for other pages with similar audiences. The last 20% of images you should try something new.

Now That You Know the Best Practices, Should You Share or Upload the Image?

If you are just trying to get Facebook traffic (likes, comments and shares), sharing others’ posts is a great option. Facebook likes it when people share and so will reward you.

Consider uploading your own photo when you are trying to drive traffic to your own link, or if you have a different spin on the image. Make sure you credit the source of the page by tagging them.

Your Key Takeaways:

  1. Share worthy images that typically have some of these elements: bold, vibrant, simple, contrasting colors, relevant/ timely, and uplifting or emotionally evocative.
  2. Adding text to images can be a great way to underscore a point and really makes it more meaningful to your supporters.
  3. Share other people’s content, find photos elsewhere online, or create your images, and it’s good to do a mix of all three.
  4. Consider your goals and optimize the post accordingly: are you trying to create engagement for your Facebook Page, or do you want to drive traffic somewhere else such as a website or petition?
  5. Share images that your audience will want to share with their friends (because they provide humor or important information, make your audience look caring or intelligent, etc.). And if you aren’t sure what your audience wants to share, experiment until you find a pattern of success.

Have fun, experiment with different images, and listen to your audience. The rest will fall into place!