Eye-catching photographs are an essential piece of your social media marketing strategy. Your audience craves quality visual content, and it’s in your brand’s best interests to create it.
At the beginning of 2017, HubSpot published a round-up of statistics emphasizing the importance of visual content in marketing. A few highlights:
- 37% of marketers said visual marketing was the most important form of content for their business, second only to blogging (38%).
- When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.
- B2C marketers place greater importance on visual content than B2B marketers.
Here are a few basic tips to improve your brand’s social media photography – regardless of your budget.
Tips for Taking Better Social Media Photos
Determine your medium and your mission.
Before you start shooting, you need to know how you want to use the photos, and what you want them to accomplish. Which social networks will be the best fit for your goals? How will the photos further your overall marketing strategy? Will they attract new followers and boost your engagement on Instagram? Will they drive traffic from your Facebook Page to your website to increase sales? Will they help you tell a better story about your brand?
Be specific about what you want to achieve, and plan your photos around these objectives. Make sure that the pictures you take fit the format you need; for example, a wide horizontal shot for a Facebook cover photo, or a perfect square for an Instagram feed.
Start with your phone.
If your marketing budget is modest, you don’t have to buy a digital single-lens reflex camera with all the accessories. Smartphones offer increasingly high-quality cameras, and it’s possible to take excellent photos with the device you always have with you. Get to know your phone’s camera settings better. Switch on the gridlines feature to help compose a better image. Play with color correction, filters and photo editing apps. Practice a lot, and analyze what makes a good photo.
Invest in a few good tools.
If you find you’re reaching the limits of your smartphone’s capabilities, it’s a worthwhile investment to buy a decent DSLR, a few versatile lenses and a tripod. You’ll be able to take print-quality photos that can be used for a variety of marketing purposes, and you’ll have much more control over the process and the results.
Find the right light.
Taking just this one step will immediately improve your photos, no matter what camera you’re using. In general, turn off your on-camera flash; it does your photos no favors. Take advantage of even, natural light when possible, and put together a simple lighting kit to use for everything from product shoots to portraits. Professional lights are often expensive, but with a little DIY skill (Example A and Example B), you can create a multipurpose setup. Collect helpful accessories, such as white and black foam board to reflect or absorb light, and sheer white fabric to diffuse it.
Develop an eye for composition.
Pay attention to brands or influencers who consistently take great photos. What is it about their images that you find interesting? Follow companies and people you like on social media, and take notes on the details of photos you like. Watch tutorials, and read blogs and books about photography to get familiar with the “rule of thirds,” symmetry and other fundamentals. Play around with perspective; take photos looking up, looking down or from an unusual angle to get different effects.
Simplify your frame.
Remember that you’re trying to capture your busy audience’s attention with just one image. Don’t try to do too much in the frame. Focus on a simple subject and message. Make it clear at a glance what you’re trying to communicate. Get rid of clutter in the background, and experiment with shallow depth-of-field so only the foreground is in sharp focus. Use negative space to make your subject stand out even more.