4 Steps to Create and Optimize Your Social Media Images

By now, you probably know that including an image in a social media post can help attract users’ attention and increase their engagement. Maybe you’ve even started to focus on sharing more images. But there’s a good chance that you’re still not maximizing on the potential of your images. So, from creating an awesome image to making sure that image is found online, we’ve got you covered with four steps to create and share social media images that work as hard for your organization as you do.
How to make and optimize social media images that do your organization justice: Click To Tweet

1. Focus on Design

A successful social media image starts with design; but you’re probably not a designer, and if you don’t have one on staff, then the idea of creating an image worthy of the work you do may seem daunting. It shouldn’t. There are plenty of resources out there that let novice designers churn out professional level images. Canva is one of those resources that allow you to easily create clean, quality images- no experience needed. You can also create and save templates, so your weekly #MotivationMonday and #CharityTuesday posts can look consistent, professional, and undeniably yours.
A few things to keep in mind:

  • Focus on consistency from image to image—they should all look like they came from you (creating those templates will help with this)
  • Keep text on your image to a minimum
  • Don’t shy away from whitespace
  • Keep it simple! Don’t overcrowd your images with too many elements or frills

2. Represent Your Organization

Sharing a quality image is important, but it’s also important to remember why you’re sharing anything at all—and that’s to reach people who want to know about and interact with your organization. This means that every image you share should be representative of your organization. This could mean that it embodies your organization’s logo, style, or color scheme (or all three). And remember that consistency thing we just talked about? Yeah, that matters here too. Sharing images that are consistent in style or theme allows your images to become instantly recognizable as being yours, which can prompt viewers to engage more regularly with your posts if they’re interested in your organization. So pay attention to your colors, fonts, and layouts—they can work together to create an unforgettable look for your organization in the long run.

3. Share Mindfully

So you have your image perfected and you’re ready to share it, but not all social media channels are created equally, and they’re not all going to receive your image in the same way. Your image may need to be tweaked depending on where it’s going to be. For the most part, this just means altering the dimensions to better suit the platform. Your image may be better received on Pinterest if it’s a vertical or portrait orientation, while Facebook tends to favor the landscape orientation. And while Instagram said goodbye to squares only, you should still consider keeping your images close to a square in dimension so that they can be easily viewed on a mobile device. Figuring out what dimensions work best for you across all the platforms you use may take a bit of time to nail on the head, but trying out a few different techniques can help you find what works best for your organization.
Also, pay attention to what content performs best where. Maybe your audience on LinkedIn doesn’t respond to your content the same way that your Twitter followers do. Or maybe you find that your Instagram and Facebook audiences are fairly similar, so pushing the same content on those platforms makes sense. Either way, it’s about trying, observing, analyzing, and trying again. And while it may be tempting to share an image that you’re proud of across all platforms, this isn’t always the best way to maximize your reach. Understand who wants to see what, and share it where it works.

4. Optimize for search

This last step is a big one, and arguably the most overlooked. Since a lot of your social media images are likely to also appear on your website, it’s important to be sure that people can find those images on the web. You’re probably already an SEO expert and work hard to make sure that all of your written content can be found on the web (if you don’t, start now!). But if you’re not doing the same for your images, you’re not taking advantage of everything your images have to offer. Optimizing the images on your website for search can be done in a number of ways, including the following:

  • Use keywords in the file name
  • Optimize your alt tags
  • Use keywords in your captions
  • Be mindful of file size (a large file means a slow load time, which Google sees as a sign of your site not being so hot, possibly lowering your ranking)

If your image files have names like 'slkfdjasldfj', they might be hurting your SEO. Click To Tweet
So that’s it—four steps to make sure you maximize the potential of all those image posts people keep telling you are necessary for success on social media. Have any tips or thoughts? Tweet them to us @wholewhale and let us know!

Want more tips like these? Check out our newest Whole Whale University course! We’ll teach you how to drive nonprofit impact using engagement data and how to be your own social media guru. 

Related Resources

A [correctly tagged] Picture is Worth 1,000 words
Design for Non-Designers: 5 Design Cheats
23 Ideas for Great Social Media Posts