Using images to make the most of your 140 characters in Twitter

twitter images

The wonder of images!

Not only do images generate more interest, likes and retweets than plain text tweets, but you can use the image to add information that you simply can’t fit into a 140 character limit on twitter. As long as the rest of your tweet contains the keywords you want to be found for (and makes sense!) you can add the extra information to the image.

So all you have to think about is, as a retail business marketing on social media, what can you post about.

Well there has been a study by the New York Times Customer Insight Group which has defined the top 5 reasons that motivate people to share content:

  • To inform and influence – to encourage action or change opinion
  • To demonstrate personality – show what you care about and reinforce their image
  • To connect with others – to keep in touch with those they would likely lose contact with
  • To feel valuable – to feel more involved in the world
  • To show support – to causes or issues

Baring those motivators in mind here are 10 image suggestions that you can post and see what works best for you, for your industry and your audience.

Quotes. Yaaaawn!  Yes we’ve seen them all before, text overlaid on a classic motivational stock photo. But what about customer quotes, over images of your product? See, there is life in quotes yet.

How to’s. Simple quick tips overlaid on a relevant image are helpful and very sharable. Think infographics and then simplify.

Amusing. You know how quickly a funny photo can go viral, if you see something amusing on your High Street, a local character, post that for your local audience to enjoy.

Note: No matter how funny/interesting/awesome the image, always check your spelling.

Giveaway. Instead of just posting a discount code add it to an image that demonstrates what the offer is. It could be a product or a service.

Inspire. Have you got a new product in stock? Show your customers how it fits into their lives or be styled to suit them.

Desk. Prove you are a human being and give a little away about your personality, without being over familiar of course. Show your desk and what you are planning and working on for your customer’s future benefit.

Facts. Share your expertise about your industry with your audience. A “Did you know…” fact on a relevant image.

Support. Are your products fair trade, sustainable, recyclable, renewable? Show how in an image.

Celebrate. Has your business reached a milestone or celebrated an award or anniversary? Tell your audience who will no doubt congratulate you. It could be as simple as a staff member’s birthday, or joining in with a relevant National Awareness Day.

Note: Get the person who is celebrating to smile – works even better.

Ask a question? Ask a question and then post the results as an image. Tea or coffee? Bourbon or custard cream? Gold or silver?

Now you have the inspiration, head over to our post about how retailers can create great social media images.

Tag Retail Post, we love to see great social media in action!

How retailers can create engaging social media images

Joe Imlay, State Journal photographer in darkroom, October 13, 1937. file/The State Journal-Register.

Joe Imlay, State Journal photographer in darkroom, October 13, 1937. file/The State Journal-Register.

(Or why not all social media images are created equal).

We know how important the visual appeal of a product or store is for customers and it is exactly the same for retailers on their social media accounts and, frankly, any other business too.

All social media accounts should be using images to attract extra engagement and boost social sharing of your brand. Get your store name out there with the added flare of a well-timed and well-placed image.

So without further ado, here are my top tips for making social media images work hard for retailers.

Size matters

Correct at time of writing this is a really handy resource for making sure that the social media images you use are correct for the platform that they are being published on.

It is incredibly important particularly if you have a key marketing message in the image that twitter or Facebook doesn’t crop it in the newsfeed thereby hiding the message from your next customer.

That’s not to say you can’t use one image on all the social media platforms. You can. Just make sure that the key text or visual element of the image is centered and fits within the sizes we’ve mentioned above.

Image Sources

Ideally you will have all your own unique images that you have taken yourself or commissioned from a professional photographer that conveys your shop, your products and brand values in the best light possible. But that may not be cost effective or practical in which case stock images are your friend.

But there are two problems with stock images:

  1. They can be expensive and you will need a lot of images to keep your social content fresh and engaging.
  2. They can look obviously like a stock image that any other number of retailers or brands could post (or have already posted).

Two solutions:

  1. Save money and use Flickr. It’s free and if you filter for “licensed for reuse” you are not infringing on any copyright rules. Add Unsplash to your list of free to use any which way you choose too. For US$1 per image you can download from DollarPhotoClub. Search for the perfect photo, find one and then look at similar ones. Cheap as chips. I also love Gratisography: free, licensed for reuse and cool. Just be aware that anyone else can download these images too which brings us on to…
  2. Edit your images to make them your own. Add a filter, crop them, brand them, overlay text using a photo editing tool, but make them your own and synonymous with your store.

So that conveniently brings us on to photo editing and why you do not need to sign up for evening classes in PhotoShop.

Editing social media images

To capture that moment in store when a customer was trying out a new product, or to share a behind the scenes re-merchandising session, you will probably turn to your mobile phone.

If you have been warned against taking photos on your phone and posting them on your shop’s social pages because it looks unprofessional, well yes and no.

You do still want to keep your images looking sharp, well composed, interesting and of the moment. And if taking a snap on your phone is too daunting, hand it over to someone in your team who is more confident. We all have skills and there is no shame in admitting composing a decent photo isn’t one of yours!

With an already great photo on your phone you can now download any number of photo editing apps and post that image to your social media account in minutes. Make sure you save your brand logo to your phone too and you can brand any image you take on the go with some of these apps.

Some apps that we have used and loved are…

Tadaa – great for effects, extra features available to purchase

Over – easy to add your logo, add-ons available (free and to purchase) for more fonts, effects etc

VSCO, Snapseed – Great effects

Brandr – easy graphics added to your images including branding and business specific packs, eg Sale banners etc.

Studio Design – great for graphic design

Wordswag – add quotes (always popular if a little unoriginal) to your images.

If you are sat at a desktop with your image you should check out Canva, one of the best free graphic design tools I’ve come across which includes stock images and illustrations ready to drop into your image. Yes you can pay for additional elements but with each only costing $1 it’s a no-brainer. Canva is also available as an app.

Then there is Picmonkey. Loaded with free elements, filters, fonts, stickers, pre-sized design features for social media including your Facebook header, collage maker, and pre-selected elements for calendar events like Valentine’s Day. You can upgrade which gives you access to more elements too.

Now go and take some pictures!

And because I love being social, and helpful, tag RetailPost in your tweets and posts and I will share them for you. Can’t say fairer than that!

Facebook testing a Dislike button

What is the etiquette for acknowledging a post on Facebook that relays bad news?

a) Like the post but risk sounding callous or completely unsympathetic?

b) Write a comment, but that takes effort and could show more empathy than you really want to convey?

c) Ignore it, therefore showing no sympathy whatsoever?

Facebook are now testing a solution to the problem, a dislike button. No it is not a button to press when you don’t like the post, and it isn’t intended as a down-vote button to be incorporated into the mind warping Facebook algorythm either.

It is intended to be a button to show empathy with the post.

While this is great for the person faced with the dilemma of showing no sympathy or being misinterpreted as a callous soul, it does also reduce the likelihood of writing a comment.

And comments do help the Facebook algorithm. Likes are a bit lazy frankly, and don’t carry the same weight as a comment when Facebook decides where to place your post in the news feed.

Just a thought when you a using your business page to post the sad news that the office plant has finally died.


Facebook dislike button


If you need any help in boosting your Facebook reach, get in touch for a no-nonsense, jargon free review.

How to manage your Social Media on Holiday


The trouble with being a small business owner is actually being able to take time off. Who will run your business while you are away? Who will liaise with your customers? And vitally who will manage your social media, because we all know the importance of social media for customer relations?

There are a couple of things you can do to keep your social media balls in the air while you are away on holiday which will keep customers in the loop, your social presence and sales rolling in.

The first thing is to ensure that you are consistent with your posting. Getting out of the habit or letting your posting slip will mean your customers aren’t thinking about you. Be front of mind by being present (but not in a stalker kind of way). To do this and make sure you get a rest, you need to schedule social media content in advance for the period of time you plan on being away. Then you should set up notifications so that you only need to be on social media for the minimum amount of time but for maximum effectiveness.

Be present even when you aren’t by scheduling content in advance

On twitter you can use a social media tool like Hootsuite and schedule content ahead of time. It’s as simple as creating a CSV file out of excel or similar with the date, time, text and a link if you want one. The only downside to scheduling like this is you can’t upload images in the same way as the tweets so you will need to add them one by one within Hootsuite. You can also use Hootsuite to schedule LinkedIn and Google+ updates in exactly the same way.

On Facebook, you can schedule content ahead on your Facebook page very simply. You add a status update as normal onto your Facebook page but instead of clicking “Publish”, click on the downwards arrow then click schedule.

You can also use a Facebook app like PostPlanner which works in a very similar way.

Instagram users can also schedule ahead of time using a webtool called Schedugram. You upload the images, you can also edit them on the site, add the first comment if you want to add a few hashtags and schedule the time you want them published. There are also tools available to schedule Pins for Pinterest like Viraltag or Tailwind.

So you are all scheduled ahead but what about the day to day engagement that gives your accounts the authenticity to be trustworthy and of value to your followers?

Set up social media app notifications to manage your time on holiday

Well there’s not a magic tool out there that will do it for you… but you can make life simpler by downloading the apps for the social media platforms you are using and setting up your notifications within each app so you can respond to mentions, comments and engagement without having to constantly check your phone.

When you have set up your notifications within each social media App you are running, you also need to make sure that the app is within the phone settings notification list too.

The last bit of advice I have is that you must remember you are on holiday! Dedicate half an hour maybe twice a day to respond to the notifications and have someone that you can delegate actions to back in the office!

Happy holidays and don’t forget to pack your phone charger!

P.S. If you really do want to switch off and unwind, outsource your social media while you are away. Relax in the knowledge that it is being managed professionally, in a timely way and your customers are blissfully unaware that you are sunning yourself (well unless you choose to tell them of course.)