A lot of you, if not all of you will have decided to take this course to improve your images for social media. There is no doubt that images are so important when it comes to social media, so I thought it would be helpful to give you my top ten tips for visual social media.
1. . Share great images.
I know that might sound a very obvious thing to say to you on this course but sometimes it can be tempting to share an image that really isn't that great just because it's all that you can capture. This can happen at events, for example, where the lighting is really bad for photography or it's really busy. Think outside the box a little for times like this. If you can't capture a great image at the event can you take a photograph of your outfit before you go or of something you bring home from the event?
If you can't create a great image that you are proud of and that fits into your social media streams then don't share it. Perhaps share just words on Twitter instead.
2. Really think about what you are sharing and where you are sharing it.
When I am thinking about my visual social media I am thinking what is the image I have to share and where should I be sharing it? Not all the images I want to share will be shared on Instagram. For example, I might go to a bloggers' dinner or a networking event and I take an image with some friends. It's a fun image, which will fit really well on my Facebook page but it's not pretty enough for my Instagram stream.
You could think of Facebook as behind the scenes but Instagram are your gallery for example.
Think about the way you want to use each of your channels and how you can use your images to create the feel you want for each one. I am still working on this one but I have set time aside to really think about what I am doing on each of my social media channels and how I want to create visual content for them over the next six months. I know it can be time consuming but I think it's really worth it. (More on this on point 5 below!)
3. Share the right size images for the right social media channel.
This is really important and goes further than simply using square crop images on Instagram. When I am writing a blog post or covering an event, then I make sure I take images for all my social media channels. I want a Portrait image for Pinterest because Landscape images get visually lost in the Pinterest stream. I want a Square crop for Instagram. Portrait and Landscape images both seem to work on Facebook and Twitter but it is still worth thinking about them when you take your images. I posted a link to this Buffer article on the Facebook Group earlier in the week. It's great for getting exact sizes for each place and is update regularly.
4. Schedule your photography in the same way you schedule your blog posts. Stock up.
It is so easy to write a great blog post and then be stuck for an image. If you are a blogger then schedule your photography. If you know you have three posts going out in a week then make time to create the images for those posts. If you plan ahead you can make the most of good light..
It is also good to file great images for future use. For example a beautiful image of mountains or trees could be used in a blog post about emotions/thoughts/reflections.
In the same way that I try to schedule the photography I need for my blog I also stock up on images for my Instagram stream. I have weeks when I am way too busy to squeeze in creating anything but my daily image for Instagram but I post an average of 4 images a day, every day, so I stock up on things for later use! Posting on Instagram makes me happy, so on extra busy days that may be quite stressful uploading an image that I've already taken and edited keeps me feeling grounded, calm and connected to a community that makes me smile. And as a mother of four it certainly keeps me sane when my little ones are are little crazier than usual!
5. Don't simply click and share the same thing everywhere.
It is oh so easy to upload an image to Instagram and then click "share on Twitter and Facebook." This is a great feature but be careful how you use it. If your audience is anything like me they will take a break and check Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and then get back to what they were doing. If you upload to all channels at the same time they will see your image 3 or 4 times at once, or they may miss it completely.
You can return to Instagram later in the day and share on Twitter or Facebook by pressing the three little dots underneath the comments section.
I also think it's great to share different images....perhaps on the same theme...across different social media channels. I don't always do this but I am working on it because I know that when I do make the effort it really works well.
I have also done an experiment over the past few days and instead of sharing my Instagram images directly onto Twitter through Instagram (as described above) I take a couple of extra minutes to actually upload it in Twitter. When you do this people see the image in their stream, rather than having to click on anything. Every time I have made the effort to do this people have favourited, RT'd and engaged with me...and I've got new followers each time too. Worth an extra minute of time I would say!
6. You don't have to share everything with everyone.
Remember that you don't have to share everything with everyone. I regularly take cute photographs of my children that I love and want to share but I consciously don't want to over share images of my children. There is an incredibly fine line between my work and my life. I am my brand and there is no doubt that my children play their part in that brand, and they enjoy the part their play, but I am careful about how much I 'sell' that part. So, my lovely Dad gets lots of images of his adored Grandchildren on WhatsApp! I love to share but I don't need to share everything with everyone who follows me.
7. Think about the seasons.
Images that capture the current season get lots of love on social media. People love being connected to the world around them and to nature, especially when they are stuck at their desks. It can inspire people to get outside or even to just take a moment to look out the window!
And these images work really well across all channels.
8. Don't overshare.
Sometimes when you are at a beautiful event, visiting an amazing place or have just had a really good day of photography, it can be really easy to want to post loads of images all over your social media. I was at a workshop last week and I could have easily posted an image every 20 minutes onto Instagram because it was all so gorgeous and inspiring. But I held back. I did share some images and I possibly shared a couple too many but I spread out the images throughout the day and the following day. I mixed in some other things too.
I find it so irritating when people post several images one after the other into my Instagram stream. It can feel quite rude and you might lose followers but you will not impact on your followers but on the engagement with your audience. People may like one or two of the bunch but will then scroll past. You want people to stop and really look at your image, perhaps leave a comment and you definitely want them to like it.
So, just be careful when uploading images into your social media and take it at a nice steady pace. You can always post another image or two in a few days time, reflecting back on your trip or event.
And, if you have lots of images you want to share then spread them out (at a steady pace!) across your social media channels. This kind of thing encourages people to follow you on more than one channel too. Different content in different places is so important.
9. Have a conversation. Keep connecting.
Posting beautiful images is all well and good but you still need to make sure you are keeping conversations going and keeping connected. Don't feel you have to say thank you or reply to every single comment if you get a lot but please do make sure you reply to a good proportion of them. Social media works well if you are having conversations and engaging with your audience.
10. Keep balanced and switch off! (Buffer...)
Keep a healthy work/life social media balance....even where pretty pictures are involved. Remember to live in the present and not just photograph it! I use Buffer all the time for scheduling Twitter. You can also use Hootsuite. I use the scheduling facility on Facebook too. For Instagram you can use Latergramme and now Hootsuite also offers this service. This doesn't upload the images for you but sends you a prompt to remind you which one to upload when. I don't personally use that but I think it's worth trying if you feel you need to be reminded when to post and want to feel in control and organised.
I hope that's helpful for you!