Images and social media go together like—well, we don’t even have to finish that thought, because if you’ve been on any social platform in the last few years, you already know that photos (and, increasingly, videos) are the name of the game. Pinning down exactly how many photos are shared on social daily is nearly impossible, but one of the most commonly held figures is 3.2 billion. Instagram has also reportedly claimed to see more than 95 million photos and videos shared daily.
Whatever the numbers, social platforms are full of visual stimulation, and standing out requires editing your content in a compelling way, and putting thought into what you post. Here, we’ll explore some tips that will help you create better images and build a more enticing social presence.
Before You Edit: What’s Your Social Style?
Before you start picking out filters, adding text, and cropping away, take a minute to think about your brand. Your brand should be considered the public-facing personality of your product/service, or in the case of a personal brand (and yes, if you have a social media profile, you have a personal brand), yourself.
You don’t want your brand to look like it has several different personalities, so think about the colors, photography style, and overall vibe you want. This will lead to a more cohesive social media presence, which is the key to everything from creating an attractive Instagram profile to increasing brand recognition to making more money—according to Lucidpress, presenting a brand consistently leads to a 23 percent revenue increase on average.
If you have a well-developed brand with defined colors, fonts, a logo, etc., use that to inform your image editing for social. If not, take a minute to think about how you want to portray your brand to the billions of people on social media who don’t know you, and let that guide your social posts. Once you have an idea of what you want your social presence to say, use these editing tips to create attention-getting photos and videos.
Size it Right for Every Platform
Nothing ruins otherwise gorgeous photos and videos quite like improper sizing. Maybe in some magical future world, all of the social platforms will get together and decide to use the same dimensions, and the headache of sizing for each one will finally go away. Until then, editing apps that are made for social and offer a variety of preset cropping sizes (like Instasize) are the easiest way to make sure your posts display correctly.
Master the Basics
Authenticity isn’t a new trend on social, but it also doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. But “authentic” and “amateur” are two different things, and nailing the behind-the-scenes look involves more than pulling out your phone, taking a photo, and posting. A few simple edits will up the wow factor of your images, while keeping the effortless vibe. Try the following subtle edits:
- Whiten teeth, brighten eyes, and remove blemishes.
- Use whitening tools to brighten white backgrounds in your photos.
- Master go-to edits like saturation, sharpness, and contrast.
- Crop for composition. That means minimizing distracting elements and making your subject the star.
- Subtly blur the background of your photos or add a vignette in order to direct eyes right where you want them.
According to Home Leisure Direct, “It’s important not to overdo it with these small, basic edits—remember, you’re going for naturally flawless, not an overly airbrushed or processed look. Opt for apps that offer customization options, so that you have more control over your edits.”
Consider Your Colors
According to research from the University of Loyola, Maryland, color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent. You’ve probably seen this idea applied on Instagram. Some social media stars opt for pops of pastels, others go for a minimalist vibe with lots of white backgrounds—that’s because using the same color says “these images go together.” For a crash course in how color can make your profiles look more cohesive, try featuring the same one or two colors in your next six or nine Instagram posts.
Filters are Your Friends
One of the quickest ways to achieve a cohesive look is to apply the same filter (or filter combinations) to multiple images. Filters can completely change the mood of a photo or video, and using the same filter helps give that same mood to multiple images. Hate the idea of committing to a one filter for every piece of content? Look for filters with a similar feel, like vintage, bright, or dark and moody.
Make Trends Work for You
It’s important to note that “cohesive” doesn’t mean posting the same type of content all the time. New editing trends pop up on social platforms all the time, and participating in them is a great way to explore your creativity, try something new, and keep your followers engaged with fresh content. The trick is to make them work with the rest of your branding. Here are a few trends to try now:
- Typography. Quote images have been around for awhile, but the latest take on text involves pairing fonts, varying weights, and sometimes ditching the “image” part altogether by opting for a gradient or patterned background instead. To participate in this trend without having to learn the rules of typography, try Instagram’s Type mode or apps offering preset text styles.
- Borders. From plain white to graphic patterns, borders are having a moment on social media platforms (especially Instagram). Try adding a patterned border that complements the colors in your photos, get the letterboxing look by adding a simple black background to your videos, or experiment with adding a photo as a border.
- Grids. Few things grab attention like splitting one photo into a grid, or “tiling photos.” Try selecting one photo that really speaks to your brand, and breaking it into multiple square images. For even more of an artistic take, experiment with editing a few squares differently—like turning a couple black and white.
With these guidelines in mind, your social media presence will be more cohesive and you’ll start building up a following in no time at all!