8 Keys to Creating Engaging Photos for Social Media

Luis Borba
Nov 28, 2012 · 3 min read

Great social media content achieves the following: On Facebook, they are likes, comments and shares. On Twitter they are re-tweets, replies, and favourites. These actions are common across popular social media platforms. When this happens repeatedly to a social post, it becomes a viral commodity that enhances a brand's recognition.

A commonality amongst viral social posts are images; photographs, drawings and videos. These visuals are easily digestible, quickly consumed, and they evoke a strong reaction like laughter, shock or anger. An observation of people's social media habits will quickly prove a preference towards image sharing. Mobile social media magnifies this behaviour. We live in an attention economy. Time and focus are at a premium, especially when you consider how much information is getting pushed through our social feeds.

Evidence of this can be seen in Pinterest, a social media platform that takes advantage of image curation and sharing to perpetuate customer desire, while giving brands a unique window into consumer trends. How do you make sure that your images will have that viral quality? The following tips cover the technical aspects of photography. The great content I'll leave up to you.

Here are the 8 keys for taking great social media photographs:

Showcase the product with the appropriate lighting. Whether it's a soft, diffused light, or direct light, decide on the mood you're after. Always ensure adequate lighting to show the front side of the product. Show off the goods!

My photography instructors always pushed their students beyond the center-aligned composition. Employing the rule of thirds into your photographic composition can make a world of difference. Offsetting the subject can create drama and interest, keeping eyes on it a bit longer. The more interesting it is, the more likely your customers will share it.

The right colour balance is particularly important when shooting your subjects. A warm tone works well on coffee and deserts shots. It exudes comfort and happiness. A subject made up of bright colours may benefit from a saturation boost to make it look more vibrant. As with anything when tweaking images, a little goes a long way.

The famous photographer Robert Capa once said, "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough." For every shot you take, think to yourself, "Am I close enough?" You can always crop the image later, but done right at the start saves you time later on. Take into consideration where the image will be posted. Facebook posts are square, so any square image you use will fit snuggly into that space. Highlighted posts have a panoramic dimension to them. Regardless of how you crop your photo, always fill the frame.

Products can be photographed on any number of surfaces like a table, on the ground, on the grass, etc. Your product is the character, and the background helps tell the story and the lifestyle. A coffee mug on a cafe table, a shot of whiskey on a bar top, a plate of olives on a picnic blanket, you get the picture. Change it up a bit, get creative with the background. Instead of a beer bottle on a table, have a person holding it. Rather than pencil on a notebook, how about it in someone's shirt pocket.

Throwing the foreground and background of the subject out of focus isolates it and draws the eye naturally to it. This may be a challenge with point-and-shoot cameras, but you can always fake it when editing it later on. This technique is also good for less than desirable backgrounds. A little out-of-focus is often enough. Too much, and suddenly it becomes the main attraction, drawing attention away from your product.

There are two types of vignetting, light and dark. In either instance the edges of the photo are lightened or darkened. In most cases, darkening the edges serves to draw the customer's eyes to the product. Background, focus, and vignetting are all great techniques for making a product stand out. Used in combination, there are limitless creative possibilities at your disposal.

Photo captions are sometimes necessary for context. How about a message within a photo? Overlaying text over an image, when done right, enhances the message and can look very elegant.

Social Media

Social Media Marketing: Stories, how-tos, insight & wisdom from those who work with this digital marketing medium.

    Luis Borba

    Written by

    Writer, photographer, digital marketer. This order may change without notice.

    Social Media

    Social Media Marketing: Stories, how-tos, insight & wisdom from those who work with this digital marketing medium.