social media how toYou’ve heard this: A picture is worth a thousand words.” But can it actually help you engage with customers and prospects?

In this post, I’ll share ways you can ensure your images provide the best experience they can; ones that will help keep the conversation flowing.

Among the topics covered in this post are tools, tips and strategies that can be used to enhance the visual representation of your business.

As I’ve done in the other posts in the 26 Tips series, this post provides an easily digestible A-Z guide to which you can return time and again.

A-Z Guide

#1: Adverts

Location, location, location. Talk about good real estate. You can use the Facebook photo strip space for pictures that serve as adverts for your business. You can include descriptions, links and calls to action.

In the post How to Use the Facebook Photo Strip on Your Fan Page, you can learn more about optimal sizes for photo strip images.


The Facebook photo strip is prime real estate and a great place for free business advertisements.

Watch how Make It In Music created them in this helpful video.

#2: Brand awareness

Ann Smarty suggests watermarking your images to protect your brand and increase brand awareness. She recommends a number of tools to get the job done; e.g., Fast Watermark and Photo Watermark.

fast watermark

Fast Watermark is a quick and simple tool that allows you to add a watermark to your photos.

#3: Creative commons

The service through Flickr makes it possible for users to offer their work under a creative commons license where people can search through images under each type of license: attribution, noncommercial, no derivative works and share alike. Before using a creative commons image, be sure to check out the license.

#4: Digital art

Greg Finn writes that digital art is a staple in social media news sites and suggests that design-related images should be “high resolution and content should be truly extraordinary.” He describes four examples of design images typically used in social media: design art, graffiti, web design and fonts. One outstanding example he references was created by Kevin Hulsey for Royal Caribbean, which can be viewed on his site, where you not only see a representation of the full ship but can go cabin by cabin through the ship. Pretty impressive!

#5: Effects

Create interesting effects with your images to help them stand out in the crowd. There are countless apps which can help to create all kinds of effects; e.g., collages, high dynamic range rendering, tiles, vintage, sketches and interesting textures. If you work on a Mac, you can check out the photography apps online.

#6: Facebook Photos Plus Comments

Photos and comments are the perfect duo for Facebook.  While you may think you have the most fantastic photo to post on Facebook (and you might), sometimes it won’t be enough to stand on its own. As, Jim Lodico writes in his post, 6 Tips to Increase Your Facebook Edgerank and Exposure, “Photos and videos show up in the Facebook new feeds as thumbnail images. Due to their size, they almost require interaction as users click on them to make them large enough to see. Be sure to add a comment that encourages users to open the photo and add comments of their own.”

sme facebook

Use photos that represent your business.

#7: Google index

Text isn’t the only thing that Google indexes. That’s right. Google indexes your images too. Images are a very powerful way to add more Google juice to your site’s search ranking. Panda’s post 9 Ways of Optimizing Your Site for Image Search says, “If you have optimized your images correctly, you can get yourself a very attractive top 10 position by tagging your images correctly.”

Fun Tip: You can check how many pictures Google has indexed from your site by going to, and replacing “” with your domain name.

sme google image

Google found 2,750 images on Social Media Examiner in 0.8 seconds!

#8: Hipstamatic

If you’re on the go and want to take some interesting photos with your iPhone, Hipstamatic is a great app worth exploring. Photographer Stephanie Roberts lists it as one tool to fuel your creativity in her article in Digital Photo magazine. She says, “Hipstamatic mimics the unique style of vintage prints characterized by vignettes, blurring, textured edges and oversaturated colors created with the original analog plastic camera. Using a square-format viewfinder, the app lets you switch ‘lenses,’ ‘flash’ and ‘film’ with the swipe of a finger. I often shoot with Hipstamatic because I like composing images in the square-format viewfinder and I like the creative constraint of choosing the ‘film’ and ‘lens’ before I shoot.”

Rich Brooks from Flyte talks about Hipstamatic and other apps in this video from 207, the evening news magazine on southern Maine’s NBC affiliate, WCSH.

#9: iPhoneography

Stephanie Roberts, author of The Art of iPhoneography: A Guide to Mobile Creativity, gives a number of compelling reasons for seeing the iPhone camera as a powerful creative device for photographers. My personal favorite is: “You rarely go anywhere without it, which means you increase the odds of your ability to capture fleeting magic moments as you move through the day.”

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I think I should have brought my digital camera when I remember that my iPhone, the constant friend and companion, is ready and waiting and very up for the task at hand!

Stephanie suggests loosening up and following your instincts and crafting your toolkit with apps to fuel your creativity. She recommends Photo fx from Tiffen, Iris Photo Suite, Hipstamatic and Adobe Photoshop Express.


Think of iPhoneography as a mobile method for making art as you move through life.

#10: Join the community and be social with your photos

Stephanie Roberts also recommends creating an Instagram presence. “Instagram is a rapidly growing social network of iPhoneographers sharing images in real time. The Instagram app displays a chronological feed of photographs shared by users you choose to follow. You can use Instagram to shoot an image (or choose an image from your photo library), apply an image filter (or not) and quickly share the image with your followers. Instagram also can automate image sharing to your online journal, or your Twitter or Facebook accounts.”


Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share through pictures.

Steve Kovach’s post, HOW TO: Use Instagram for Your Business recognizes the ways businesses can use Instagram to make their photos searchable with hashtags. As he says, “This is fun for the average user, but a huge win for brands that want to get more attention with the Instagram crowd.” He offers four tips for leveraging hashtags for your brand on Instagram: host a contest, target people by interest, create an RSS feed and encourage participation.

News organizations are using Instagram, too. In this recent post, Anthony Quintano, the community manager for @NBC News, offers three tips: upload original photos that share a unique perspective, thank and follow other Instagram users and search for user content.

hashtag socialmedia

You can also search for hashtags that interest you. For example, see who has tagged their photos #socialmedia.

#11: Keywords

Where would we be without keywords? They’re everywhere we search today. But when it comes to searching for the perfect image, they become even more important to understand. Getty images put together a very comprehensive guide to help users search for images. Whether you’re looking on Getty Images or not, the concepts are important to consider. For example, they suggest using keywords related to concepts, topics, people, age, sayings, image and footage styles, editorial-specific terms and human emotions. They offer advice for refining your search; e.g., combine terms, be creative, editorial and footage.

#12: Link

This may be an obvious piece of advice, but nevertheless it’s worth mentioning. Users have become accustomed to rolling over images in hopes that they will be able to navigate to a destination. So why not link the screenshot and take users directly to the website. This is particularly useful on web roundup posts. In this roundup, “The Art of Facebook Page Design,” the images represent the artwork of 50 Facebook pages. When the user wants to see more about the Facebook page, he or she can easily navigate to the page by clicking on the image.

facebook art

Link screenshots directly to the website.

#13: Movies

Images needn’t be stills. With a variety of tools, you can create short movies with a series of photos, add music, embed on your blog, link on Facebook and wow, think of the impressions you can make. One such tool is Animoto.

Here’s a good tutorial by mentorMichel.

#14: Networking sites

Looking for a way to keep track of the images you’ve shared on different social networking sites? There are several options to help you. One such product is GRID, which “fetches all your photos from different social networks and lists them out by week. Currently GRID can rewind your memories from Facebook, dailybooth, Instagram, picplz, twitpic and yfrog.”

Pixable, another fun service, makes it possible to view your friends’ photos shared on Facebook. Young writes in the post, View Facebook Photos with Pixable, “For every photo you can see on the Pixable website, you can also like it, read its comments, comment it and see who is tagged in it. Very enjoyable, especially when your friends share many beautiful photos of themselves.”

wall grid

See all of your images in one place.

#15: Optimize

In the post 9 Ways of Optimizing your Site for Image Search, we’re advised to: use descriptive file names, use the html alt tag, add descriptive text close to the picture, keep the most important images close to the top headline or title, put photos within articles and blog posts away from navigational elements, do not add code to break out of frames, use images that read well when thumbnailed, make the photos accessible, and use social photo sites like Flickr with links back to the relevant page on your site.

#16: Profiles

The placement of social icons on blogs is an important consideration. Cindy King points out in her post, 19 Ways to Use Images to Enhance Your Blog, “A blog is considered a social media platform and you want to make it easy for readers to connect with you on the social platforms they feel most comfortable with. This is why many blogs have easy-to-recognize social icons in a prominent position.”

#17: Quality of experience

While we’ve been talking largely about images and photos so far in this post, Greg Finn suggests six formats for informative images that work in social media: charts/graphs, flow charts, how-to’s, maps, screenshots, and guides. “The key for these images is to be easy to consume and to be comprehensive. The images should not only be helpful, but should also be designed well. Great design can make an ordinary informative image turn into an essential resource.”

#18: Resize images and use same sizes

Greg Finn offers great advice for using the same size for each image in your piece. Go a step further and make it part of your editorial standards and request that all images have the same dimensions. As Greg says, “This gives your article a more professional feel and gives the submissions a much more uniform look. Never use a jumble of different image sizes; your story will look much more amateur.”

#19: Screenshots

Sometimes nothing says it better than a screenshot, the “image taken by the computer to record the visible items displayed on the monitor, television, or another visual output device.” (Wikipedia) Screenshot images are often used to demonstrate a point and show users how to complete a task. Another powerful feature of screenshots is the ability to annotate them, and this is where you might want to explore software options. Recently I’ve started using SnagIt by TechSmith, which I’ve used in this post. The annotating features really help add pizzazz.

snagit example

Annotate screenshots to demonstrate a point.

#20: Twitter

As discussed in the post, 26 Twitter Tips for Enhancing Your Tweets, images can be shared on Twitter via a number of Twitter image sharing services, SMS or email, Brightkite or FriendFeed, Skitch and Encoded Tweets. You can learn more about these options from Josh Catone in his post.

#21: User Photos

One of Facebook’s newest developments is the ability to tag pages in user’s photos. Right now it’s limited to pages categorized as “Brands & Products,” but it can be very effective for brands looking to expand their reach. As Josh Constine writes, “A tag of a brand or public figure represents a strong social recommendation of that Page, which will make a user’s friends curious to visit that Page and improve the chance that they’ll Like it themselves.

“Photos are Facebook’s most popular native application, receiving huge numbers of Page views. Tags of Pages in Photos could gain many impressions from a user’s friends over a long period of time, offering many opportunities for that Page to gain new fans.” Josh demonstrates this new feature in the Coke brand photo below:

user photo coke

Tagging products can expand a brand's reach.

# 22: Volume

While there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules about the number of images to include in a blog post, I think most bloggers would agree that effective blog posts should contain at least one or two.  Keep in mind that Images will help engage readers by breaking up long blocks of text and enhancing the readability of the page. Posts on Social Media Examiner for example, always include a number of images and the pièce de résistance, captions!

#23: Widgets

Cindy King discusses widgets and how most social networking sites provide widgets for you to embed on your blog. Cindy says, “This is a great way to grow your communities on social media platforms. It gives your readers the choice of where they want to connect with you. And as the communication styles vary on different social media platforms, it also lets your readers choose how they want to connect with you.”

#24: Experience

In the post How to Improve the Appeal of Your Graphics, Connie Malamed discusses research that indicates the ease of processing information (otherwise known as processing fluency) which influences a person’s aesthetic pleasure and contributes to positive experiences. Four features attributed to facilitating fluent processing are: symmetry, high figure/ground contrast, visual clarity and less information rather than more.

Use images as a way to facilitate a good experience for your customers, fans and followers.

#25: Why images

Adam Singer describes images as being vital to modern blogs for six reasons: content moves through the social web lightning-fast and strong imagery can’t be ignored; images are a signal to visitors that a site’s material is premium and unconsciously we elevate the worth of a site that has images mixed in with stories; strategic imagery helps bloggers build their brand—the imagery can help build a stylish brand associated with their sites; images are mood setters and help writers tell their stories better; images are a precursor to the inspiration that happens from effective copy and can give a blog an advantage over their competition; images help bloggers create viral content.

#26: Zero impact

At this point we’ve explored 25 tips and good reasons for using images in your social media to engage customers, followers and fans. With that being said, there’s really no good reason to use images that have zero impact. I’ll end with these last pieces of advice: with all the great possibilities out there, use images with the most dynamic impact and ones that are representative of the points you are trying to make.

Happy imaging!

What do you think? What image tips can you add to this list? Which of the 26 tips here did you enjoy reading about most? Leave your comments in the box below.

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  • I experience that pictures and videos get more reactions on
    Facebook and Twitter than status updates & also there are more chances to go pictures viral.


    As a new blogger finding images and understanding licensing
    is really important.


    Thank you Debbie for sharing a complete guide.

  • deb1221

    Hi Rana,

    I agree. Finding good images and understanding how to use them is critical.
    Best of luck with your blog and thanks for reading!


  • Debbie a photo speaks a thousands words to people and when done right you can engage lots of people..we are visual people.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • My dear Peter, Apple must be paying you as you never even mention Android phones…  Not the first time I’m commenting on this.#9: iPhoneography
    Sorry but stopped reading after this headline.

  • deb1221

    Hi Jaana,

    Thanks for your feedback. The first time I saw the word “iphoneography” I was a little surprised, too. (Let alone trying to say it!)

    I’ve since seen it used as a common tag on instagram, flickr and other places. On Flickr, for example, there’s a iphoneography group, and another group called photos taken with an apple iphone. And, Android photographer and Vignette for Android are on Flickr, too.

    I see these as useful ways for people to tag and categorize their work. Hope that helps.


  • deb1221

    Hi Antonio,
    Absolutely. People love images.

    Thanks for reading.


  • So many use’s for images here I also find images in emails help improve CTR from opens.

  • deb1221

    Great point, Phil. Thanks for adding it.


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  • Wow. Imagine my surprise when I was reading through your article, Debbie, and found myself quoted in it! Plus, with video! (The check is in the mail.) Had no idea. Thanks for the props.

    And thanks for the cool wrap up of new ways to engage your audience through images.

  • Another new Social Media Platform which hones in on the power of pictures – Pinterest. A social bookmarking site that allows you to bookmark pages using a photo of the page for reference. Awesome for us visual people!

  • I would not use or recommend Getty images. All you have to do is Google” Getty Images Settlement Demand Letter” to see why using their images can get you into trouble.  I have known website owners who have legitimately purchased their images and received this letter from Getty.  People also need to know their customer when displaying images and how they will work on their demographics’ technology. 

  • Do you have any insight on the naming of image file names for SEO? I know it is important but unsure of the “Weight” of this with regard to the algorithm?

  • Infographics!  They have to be the MOST impactful way of using images within a blog!   

  • deb1221

    Well, glad that you had a good surprise. It was a great find and I was happy to share here on SME.


  • deb1221

    Great to hear about. I’ll check it out!

  • deb1221

    Thanks for your comment. Great point about images and demograjics.


  • Guys this is an amazing post! I honestly learned a ton!

  • deb1221

    You might find the info in this post helpful:

    Thanks for reading.

  • deb1221

    I agree! I love infographics. Thanks for your comment.


  • Good post and very relevant today.  I think that brands are getting out of the “if you build it, they will come” mindset, and that’s a good thing.  About time, anyway.

    There’s lots of ways to get your fans engaged and this is a great list for bookmarking.

    I would add something that has always worked well with the communities I run, (and I hope I didn’t miss above.) 
    Caption contests are a super popular way to use photos to engage a fans base, especially if it’s someone that people recognize in some sort of an “out take” pose. As  a community manager, you have to always be careful not to cross the line. It’s always good to ask the fan who’s photo you intend to use before launching the update, but if you pick the right copy and position the message right, you can get a snowball effect of people chiming in with their creative ideas on the caption.

    One more way we’ve recently experimented with is asking your fans to engage in a fan page duel.  While you have to be careful to follow Facebook’s TNC, there are some holes that allow you to really get the networks of your fans involved without breaking the rules.  Here’s some more info on that one if you want to try it out …

  • deb1221

    Really nice suggestions, Nate. Thanks for sharing them.
    Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Hi Scott,
    Happy to hear!

  • Thanks Debbie!

  • Hi Debbie,

    Thanks for sharing a great informative post! It sure has taught me a great deal.

  •  These tips are extremely beneficial. These are things that anyone can easily do to improve how to engage fans. Thanks for the share.

  • Thanks for sharing this, Debbie!
    Most people don’t like reading long articles especially not on the internet so the best way to spice up a page/blog is by adding images and videos. I’ll be sharing this!

  • Ian


    Thanks so much for featuring our post on the photostrip!


  • deb1221

    Hi Ian,

    My pleasure. For me, it’s great when I find the material that describes the points I’m trying to make so well– which was the case with your approach to the photostrip. Nicely done!


  • deb1221

    Hi Harleena,
    Very happy to hear. Music to a blogger’s ears!


  • deb1221

    You’re very welcome. Glad you found the tips beneficial.


  • deb1221

    You’re very welcome. In case you haven’t tried it here, the print friendly button prints the posts out really well. I’ve given the posts to colleagues and clients when I’m trying to explain something that they can go back and read more about later.


  • This article was most interesting and intriguing. It’s interesting to see how visuals significantly impact a company’s brand. Your point about “Quality of Experience” is interesting because defining exactly what that is depends on several different factors. (i.e. the company’s goals and the individual differences in the audience)

    Here is a more general question for you. Regarding the amount and type of images, what do you think the best way is to find balance between the repetition of a company’s brand images while also being new, interesting, and insightful? 

  • deb1221


    Thanks for your thoughtful comments and question. If I understand your question accurately (let me know if I haven’t), I guess I’d say this…when it comes to selecting photos for a blog post for example, the sky is the limit in terms of using something that demonstrates your point but isn’t a photo of your product or service. It can be representative, have visual appeal and be memorable. 

    There are times too that businesses may not think through exactly the photos they are using on their Facebook strips. I remember coming across the page of a local restaurant. They used out of focus photos taken from a distance of their signage. When what might have been more engaging for someone thinking about coming to their restaurant would have been photos of their fantastic pizza (the red of the sauce) and salads (the beautiful shades of green of the lettuce), the chef in the kitchen with their crisp white chef hat, holding a shiny butcher’s knife, slicing and dicing.

    In other words, you really want to think about the fact that not only are your words and the content you’re presenting needing to be compelling but so are the images. You’ve invited people to your pages, or they dropped in on you without calling–now you want to keep them while you have their undivided attention.

    Hope that answers your question. And thanks for reading the post and commenting!


  • Great post, as always. Thanks!

  • Debbie Uunterman

    Speaking of long articles, thanks for all this great FREE info.  I’m just getting started but picked up a tip or two.  I can’t believe I read (and watched) the whole thing!

    Great stuff!

  • deb1221

    Thank you, Shelley!

  • deb1221

    Thanks for hanging in there and reading (and watching) through the whole post.
    Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.
    Best, Debbie

  • No doubt, take the time to be sure you images are the same size through-out your blog. It really does give it a more professional look and keeps people more engaged. Great article, great tips, thanks!

  • deb1221

    Thanks for reading!

  • Debbie–

    Love this. Thanks for mentioning that Google indexes photos, and the great tip about the Facebook photo stream. Those are two that I think go largely missed.


    Lacey, Social Media Manager for C.A Advertising Solutions

  • deb1221

    Image seo is really a good thing to plug into.

    Here’s a tool too that I recently came across, “This tool examines the images on your web page and tells you how well they are being “seen” by search engines like Google”


  • Firstly good article Debbie 🙂

    The human brain has maximum capacity dedicated to visual processing. So if you want to make it easier for people to understand and remember, nothing beats visual representations.

    What do you think of this?
    Check out this example of how communities and social media changed corporate communication explained visually 🙂 and I know the naysayers might say, hey that was a simple topic :-0 so here’s one more which visually explains how social media can be used to gain business intelligence (you can find more at

    Debbie and everyone else-> The last point you made “use images with the most dynamic impact and ones that are representative of the points you are trying to make” My question out here is how? Is there a step by step way to do this, I can think of two people: Sanjay Vyas (who teaches complex Computer programming thru visuals) and Dan Roam( Anyone knows about other(s)/methodologies?

  • deb1221


    Thank you for your comments and for sharing these links which I enjoyed watching.

    I’ll take a stab here at your question, I would say it is important to search for and find good online sources of visuals. Then taking the time to sift through them and select the ones that are good visual representations of your written content (And this can be time-consuming but worth it for a piece.)

    There are times too when after looking and looking and I haven’t found the image which best serves my topic and I have used a photo I’ve taken and applied a photo/word app to it (e.g. wordfoto or something else) that helps me to uniquely capture the piece.

    Thanks again for your comments.

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  • Debbie,

    Thank you for your example of the local restaurant. Your point about the importance of having both the content and images be compelling is a good one. We look forward to  your future posts. 

  •  Me also experienced the impact of Image sharing  Thanks for the points.

  • Pingback: 26 Tips for Using Images to Engage Fans and Followers | Social Media Marketing Asia (Singapore)()

  • Mosbon

    I agree, this very interesting and revealing.I need all the help i can get!
    Mike Osbon

  • Great post! When it comes to the web, the power of images is really incomparable. I enjoyed the videos posted here. Thanks for sharing.

  • Great useful article!! I would add another great online source; Pixlr which is the creator of online cloud-based image tools and utilities.
    They have three applications in their suite: Pixlr Editor, Pixlr Express and Pixlr-o-matic.

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  • Nicole Green

    maximize was misspelled

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  • A colleague recently needed to both crop images to a square aspect ratio and resize them down to thumbnail size. At first glance,Windows Live Photo Gallery, the free downloadable image editor forWindows 7 and Vista, seemed to offer no help. But a little peering into the app showed it was completely up to the task.

  • Finally, what if you want to resize a bunch of pictures all at once? No problemo. In gallery view, you can select a bunch of photos (but note that this doesn’t just mean clicking on them—you have to actually place the mouse pointer in the thumbnail’s check box at the upper-left), and then right-clicking gets you the same Resize dialog we saw before. To get the “Open file location” right-click choice, deselect all but one of the thumbnails.


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