7 Ways To Create Compelling Photography for Your Social Media


Engaging your audience with eye-catching visual content is an effective way to build your reach on social media and grow brand awareness, but knowing how to create compelling material is key.

If you are like most businesses, you are posting across multiple platforms consistently every day to ensure that you:

  • Maintain the relationships you have built
  • Keep your fans loyal
  • Stay relevant in your industry

While videos are growing in popularity on social platforms, with Facebook now being the number one channel for businesses to share video content, they require time, effort and money to produce. It often falls to photography to carry content engagement, and if you are posting consistently every day this means producing a minimum 365 images a year.

Luckily, you don’t need a professional photographer to stock up on high quality images. Here are 7 top tips for ramping up your social media presence with compelling photos.

Feature Lots of People

Social media is all about connecting with people, after all, and users on social media platforms are more likely to be attracted to a photo of another person doing something than they are of a product. Including people in a shot makes your brand more relatable while also bringing movement to the scene and helping the photo feel alive. Make sure that some of your product photos include customers using the product, and mix it up by sometimes just showing a hand, leg or part of the body or face while keeping the focus on the product itself.

You can also post pictures of the real people behind the scenes to tell the stories of your business, whether it’s people in your head office, farmers in your supply chain or regular customers who you want to give a shout out to. Demonstrating the human side of your company makes it genuine and relatable, building trust in your brand.

Mix it up

Nobody wants to keep seeing a picture of a woman wearing denim jeans on a white studio background, no matter how much they liked it the first few times it came up on their feed. Particularly on Instagram, you want your profile to show an array of different photos. Try posting a mix of products, people, outside, inside, close-ups, zoomed out, candids, posed, side views, birds-eye views – keep your photography looking fresh and your audience stimulated. If all your social media activity contains the same visual content it will fail to catch people’s attention, and even your biggest fans will stop engaging with your posts.

The Rule of Thirds

Knowing the rule of thirds is the essential foundation of good photography, and it’s simple. By enabling grid lines on your smartphone, or by using your imagination, divide your image into thirds both vertically and horizontally using two vertical lines and two horizontal lines.

Positioning the focus of your photo along these lines or at points where they meet allows you to create a more aesthetically pleasing off-center image whilst maintaining balance. This also gives the subject of your photo room to breathe at the same time as showing off its surrounding environment. The rule of thirds can be broken to make more interesting shots, but practicing this basic composition technique is a great way to get started.

Don’t use Zoom

A common mistake in amateur photography is using the zoom feature rather than cropping a photo to pick out what you are trying to highlight. Unless you are using a professional camera, the quality of your photo will be ruined if you are using zoom to get closer to a subject or product. Try simply taking a closer shot, or if that’s not possible then take the photo as it is and use the rule of thirds to keep it in balance. If you need to, crop out parts of the image that you don’t want in there afterward.

Lighting is Key

A good photo needs good lighting – the end of the story. The best way to achieve this is to always use natural lighting whenever possible, taking your photos outside where it’s naturally bright but not in the direct sunlight where you’ll get too many rays and shadows to wrestle with. The “golden hour” of photography refers to the time just after sunrise or just before sunset when the sun is close to the horizon and gives out a warm, soft glow. Take advantage of this prime time whenever you can.

If you’re indoors, take photos near the window or close to where natural light is coming in. Alternatively, the last resort is to buy a… and there are some inexpensive options. Whatever you do, avoid using the built-in flash on your smartphone, which will only take away the sharpness and vibrancy of the shot.

Keep a Consistent Style

Your photos are an extension of your brand identity, just like your logo, website, packaging or any other marketing materials your company creates. While you do want to keep your shots interesting rather than all looking the same, there have to be some similarities which tie them all together to represent your brand personality and increase brand recognition.

This could be that your photography is always bright and colourful, black and white, using a sepia filter or on particular background material. Whichever style you choose, make sure it represents the tone of your brand and attracts your target demographic.

Think Outside The Box

Not every photo you post needs to be award-winning photography – in fact, social media can sometimes favour the realness of an opportunist shot over a highly choreographed image if it tells a better story. However, getting creative with your visual content is going to make you stand out from the crowd in a competitive environment and reward you with reach, impressions, and engagement.

The beauty of smartphone photography is how mobile you can be (excuse the pun). Try using unconventional angles, new perspectives, reflections, framing, action shot tricks or even full-blown stunts to wow your audience – anything that will set your content apart.

I am an international Digital Marketing SEO and content expert, helping brands and publishers grow through search engines. I am Outbrain's former SEO and Content Director and previously worked in the gaming, B2C and B2B industries for more than a decade.
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