Imagery In Social Media

This article is the second one in a series of three written by James Leal-Valias, Creative Director of iStockphoto

Somewhere in the mid ‘90s we reached a point where, in order to be perceived as “real,” a business had to have a website. Today, while still an absolute necessity, websites are sooooooo last decade. Now it’s all about social media.

Like it or not, social media has gone mainstream. And today simply having a social media presence is not enough. On places like Facebook and Twitter, content is still king, but if you want to stand out, customization is important.

Companies and even individuals are finding that the strategic use of imagery allows them to differentiate themselves, maintain mindshare and uphold a certain level of professionalism. With millions of images available on the web, it’s almost impossible to come up empty handed when searching for the perfect picture. With the right images and creative concept, anyone can take their social media pages from mediocre to show-stopping.

The best, most popular Facebook pages are highly customized – often with the help of web designers or social media-specific firms. Many like Red Bull, Coca-Cola and Taco Bell start with graphics-rich welcome screen to first-time readers compelling them to “like” the page before moving on to the wall where even more graphically-rich content often awaits. Only after initial interactions do the pages begin to look and work in a more traditional and expected way.

Twitter makes it fairly easy for users to create their own background image for their page. Not only does this give you a chance to create a certain mood or personality and reinforce your brand, it also provides you additional room for a description of your business or the purpose of your page (sometimes the 160 characters Twitter provides for the basic templates just isn’t enough).

Examples of well-customized pages include Doug Cone (@nullvariable), CoolTweets (@CoolTweets) and Kris Colvin (@KrisColvin). Many of these pages are built by using Photoshop or similar graphics software to combine an illustrated background with images and copy. Stock image companies such as iStockphoto have a massive selection of inexpensive illustrations and images that are well-suited to make a great Twitter background image in a matter of minutes.

Blogs are another place where a little extra effort is richly rewarded. Hobbyists can get away with mediocre looking blogs but if you are going to build a blog that represents a company or organization, the overall look and feel needs to be as good as modern websites. As is the case with Facebook, this often means enlisting the aid of a professional to design the framework for the blog itself.

Once that’s done, making compelling posts is as easy as writing quality copy highlighted by images that draw the reader in and help underscore the main point of the story. Any post, regardless of length, should have at least one representative image. Longer posts should have several images which should be used not only to beckon the reader to continue but also help break up big chunks of text, which can be imposing enough to discourage people from finishing the piece. Many times a blog post calls for a particular image of a person place or thing but just as often a good piece of stock imagery also fits the bill.

At the end of the day, regardless of the vehicle, anything on the Internet that represents your company or organization has the ability to impact your brand. By sweating the small details and upping the ante from a graphical standpoint everywhere you have a presence shows your customers that you care and that can matter a great deal.

About iStockphoto

iStockphoto is the web’s original source for royalty-free stock images, media and design elements. For over 10 years artists, designers and photographers from all over the world have come here to create, work and learn. Although iStockphoto started with just a few photos in 2000, we now offer vector illustrations, videos, music and sound effects, Flash and, coming soon, logos.

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses

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