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!