Are you using images in your business’s blog posts? If not, you really should be. Latest statistics show that Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images. That means when you are tweeting out the link to your blog post, if there is no image, you’ll have much less of a response. Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than those without. (Source: Hubspot Infographic) Moral of the data – start using images in your blog.
However, not just any image will do. When planning out your blog, you’ll want to stay true to your brand voice, so there are a couple decisions to make to keep all posts consistent and authentic. Ask yourself (and your team) the following questions to help you decide upon the best images for your brand and increase social media shareability at the same time.
Stock Images or Personal Photos?
Stock photos are images that you can purchase from photo banks like Shutterstock or iStock. There are also free sites like Pixabay. These banks have thousands upon thousands of professional-quality photos to choose from, and Hubspot has some quality tips on the Do’s and Don’ts of using stock photos. Although there are some awesome photos out there, it’s possible for several companies to use the same image, reducing the originality and authenticity of that post. There are also a lot of cheesy or posed photos that look too fake and turn people away from the post. If you use stock photos, discuss what overall vibe you are going for and stick to it.
Because there are pros and cons to using stock photos, so another alternative would be to take your own photos or hire a photographer to create your business’s own bank of professional images. Writing a post on the frustrations of a process being bottlenecked? Take a photo of a wine bottle. Want to pen something about finding customers? Take a photo of someone using binoculars. Once the creative juices start flowing, you’ll have a lot of fun crafting the perfect photo!
To Brand or Not to Brand?
Although there are copyright laws to help protect your image rights, you just never know where your photo could end up or who could use it without giving you the proper credit. People may use your blog content but don’t provide a link back to your page, taking away your traffic and brand recognition. To help get credit for your blog image, place a watermark or branding on a corner of the photo, so no matter where it gets shared, your company name is out there.
If you decide to watermark your images with brand information, make sure to decide which branding you’d like to use and then stay consistent. Ask yourself what the most valuable information would be to add. Your website URL? Your Twitter handle? Company name? Company logo? What size should it be? What font should you use for your text? Sometimes just adding your name or URL is enough. Adding a whole signature with email, phone, and social media handles, etc. would take away from the value of the image.
Are these photos optimized?
Everything on your blog should be search-engine optimized, including your images. If you are using abstract images (e.g. a duckling following their mother on a post about leadership), then captions can help readers connect the dots to the meaning of that photo and how it ties into the message of the post.
Making sure you fill in Alternative text is also helpful. Your images may not load on your readers’ browsers for a number of reasons – slow internet connection, a computer’s software settings, image size, issues with the cache, and the list goes on. When images are not downloaded, the Alt text is the only way readers will know what the image is supposed to be. This will help them understand the context of the image.
Choose an image size or range that you’d like to use and stick with it. Then re-size your images before uploading them to your website. Some websites may compress the size for you, but if it’s a very large photo, it may affect the loading time for your readers, increasing the possibility of it not being seen at all. An added advantage of keeping your images all roughly the same size is that the blog’s design becomes more consistent and pleasant-looking.
Holly is the founder of Cloud Nine Marketing, a member of The Wheelhouse and one-woman llc that implements content marketing strategy for entrepreneurs and small businesses. If you want to know more about content marketing, follow her on Facebook or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.