If you are not already optimizing the images you are sharing through your social media accounts, you should give it some serious thought. Yes, optimizing your social media images can take a few extra minutes; when those minutes can dramatically improve the quality of your images AND boost overall sharing and satisfaction they are very well spent!
In a nutshell, image is everything. If the images you share are consistently grainy/blurry/pixilated then people are not going to want to share them, and if they do get shared the poor quality of the image is not going to reflect very well on your brand. Consider how you would feel if you saw a poor-quality photo or graphic on some of your printed promotional materials; how would you feel that this product was representing your company? Likely you wouldn’t be thrilled at the idea! The same level of concern should be shown when it comes to images you will be using to promote yourself online, perhaps even more so because there is so much potential for widespread and rapid-fire sharing on online images.
Optimizing Your Images for the Web
For most images, the following tips will be all that you need to prepare them for use with your social media accounts. In the case of Facebook and Pinterest there are a few specifics when it comes to size, but we’ll cover that in more depth towards the end of this post. For the moment, here are some of the things that you need to pay attention to when optimizing your images:
The type of file that you use is important. The most common type of file for a photo is a JPEG; other common file formats that can be used are GIF, PNG, and BMP. At higher resolutions JPEG is best for photos, at lower resolutions it tends to look very blurry. GIF files can only use 256 colors, so they are not ideal for photos; instead GIF files are idea for animations and advertising banners. PNG files are excellent for web use, but not all sites will support them. BMP files tend to be large and take a long time to upload; some social media sites will support them, some will not. When in doubt, go for a medium to high-quality JPEG!
The resolution of a file is important because it will help determine how clear and crisp the image will be once it is saved. The resolution of an image also impacts the file size; the higher the resolution, the larger the file. The standard resolution for images used on the web is 72 ppi (pixels per inch); higher resolutions are not necessary for web use as most computer monitors will discard the extra data.
Some sites have a limit on the size of the file you can upload and use there. The type of file your image is and the resolution of the image file will both have an impact on its size.
Believe it or not, the name if your image really matters. Because it is the default name the image will be saved as if someone downloads it or saves it to their computer in another way, you will want to make sure that your image has an appropriate name. An easy way to name your image would be to describe it; for example, a photo of a pink flower could be named “pink-flower-photo”
The dimensions of your image (how many pixels it is in width and height) can be very important when you are using an image on a social media site. Some sites (like Facebook) allow you to crop your photos for different uses; Facebook and Pinterest also compress your images and resize them if they are larger than the maximum dimensions each site allows.
Want to learn more? Check out these posts:
- How-To: Optimizing Image Use in Social Media – by Marketing Vox
- 3 Ways to Optimize Images: Search, Social Media & User Experience – by Ashley Zeckman
- 6 Ways to Generate More Traffic Out of Your Images – by Neil Patel
Making Your Mark
Another important part of optimizing your images for social media is deciding whether or not to mark them as yours. Two ways to do this are labeling and watermarking. You’ve likely seen labels and watermarks before in other images around the web; labels are usually opaque (solid) and in color, and an example of a label would be a company’s logo. Watermarks are semi-transparent (see-through) marks on images and are typically either black or white.
There are mixed feelings about labels and watermarks on social media images because they are intended for sharing, and while the owner of the image might want everyone to know that it belongs to them, sometimes labels and watermarks can get in the way of other people enjoying the image.
Whether or not you decide to add some sort of identifying mark to your images is a personal decision. If you are a part of a company you may want to check any policies that apply; your company might be for or against identifying marks and want you to follow their instructions first.
More about watermarking from some amazing bloggers:
- How To Watermark Images & Why You Should – by Courtney
- Should You Watermark Your Art? – by Sharon Milne
- Why You Might Need to Change Your Watermark Style – by Amy
- Why You Need to Stop Worrying About People Stealing Your Images – by Dan Johnson
Here are two really interesting infographics that have a lot of information about optimizing images for use on Facebook and Pinterest:
((Click on this graphic for a larger version))
((Click on this graphic for a larger version))
And here is a video on optimizing your images for use on Facebook: Facebook Optimization – #3 Optimizing your profile picture or logo
In order to have the best experience uploading and sharing your images, optimization is a must. By optimizing your images you are not only making things easier for yourself, you are also making your images easier to share and enjoy for all of the friends / fans / followers of your social media profiles!
BONUS: Tips, Tools, & Tutorials
- Optimizing your Photos for Facebook – by Rob Andrew
- 5 Easy Steps to Optimize Your Images in Photoshop – by JC Parmley
- Optimizing images for the Web in GIF and PNG formats with Adobe Photoshop Save for Web Dialog – by DigitalFamily.com
- 9 Ways to Optimize Images for Google – by Tim Ruswick
- 8 Excellent Tools for Optimizing Your Images – by Jacob Gube
- Free Watermark. Add Custom Watermark with PicMarkr!
- Watermark Tool – Personalized Image Protection
- Adding a Watermark Using Picasa
- How to Watermark Images Using Photoshop – by Nancy Messieh
- How to Add Text or a Watermark to a Photo – by Amy Andrews
What do you do to prepare your images for sharing on your social media networks?
Leave us a comment and let us know!