If you’re working to build up your social media presence, you know that images are essential to boosting your online engagement. In fact, content with images gets almost twice as many views. If you’re not sharing images your audience loves, you’re missing out on serious engagement.

One of the most popular memes of 2016. Via The Verge

You need visual content, but figuring how to get it can be a challenge.

  • Which images are best for your business?
  • How can you find or create them?
  • How can your images stand out among the avalanche of others on social media when Facebook alone sees more than 300 million images shared every single day?

In this post, you’ll get three great tips on how to up your social game so you can get more clicks, likes and follows. You’ll learn the elements of shareable images, what works on each platform, and design tips to create engaging images for social media.

1. Know why people share

Shareable images are small and manageable, and they visually convey a straightforward bit of information that is easy to digest. They instantly reveal something that we recognize, love and feel compelled to share with others—no fuss, no muss.

People share funny images

Engaging images for social media are funny, poignant or awe-inspiring.

A dog and a orangutan are friends
A dog and a orangutan being BFFs. Via Business Insider.

Everyone loves to see a dog and a orangutan being BFFs. It’s so random that before we saw it, we didn’t know that we loved it.

People share relatable images

Images that make people think, “oh hey, that’s totally me!” are more likely to engage users.

via Pinterest

An inspirational quote about being a mom resonates with almost anyone who’s felt overwhelmed as a parent (hint: that would be all parents).

People share useful images

via Whole Foods

Quick tips, quotes, how-to posts and fun facts offer instant impact and are more shareable.

Give users something that makes them say, “why didn’t I think of that?!” They’ll share it because spreading the word is the next best thing.

People share beautiful images

Engaging images for social media often feature original art—something unique that displays talent and value.

Shareable images need to be timed right. Part of what makes an image shareable is when it’s shared. Know your audience, use your analytics and share your images when your audience is active on the platform and ready to engage.

Penguin breathing
Via Daily OM
Bald eagle and football gear
Design by BATHI

Daily tips, quotes or jokes build up loyal followers to learn to expect the same kind of content each day. This post from “Daily Om” gives followers a humorous take on the overall yoga and meditation lifestyle.

People share images that tell clear stories

The most shareable images on social media start with something that is visually appealing and go one step further by adding a layer of context. This is storytelling 101.

Ensure your images are optimized for branding, size and source. In a split second the image should load, it should be clear the image belongs to your brand and the viewer should understand exactly what you’re trying to say.

Oreo cookie with red center and rover tracks
via Oreo
via Oreo
via Oreo

Anyone who has ever seen an Oreo knows that’s what they’re looking at here, and the red center and rover tracks plus the “Mars rover lands” text tell the whole branded story in a flash.

2. Know your platforms

Shareable images also differ from platform to platform; what’s most engaging on Facebook might not work as well on Instagram, and vice versa. Remember what users on each platform are looking for.

Facebook

Facebook users share images that are funny or emotional. They’re typically looking for entertainment or enlightenment.

via The Zooom

Instagram

Instagram users share images that are visually striking and transport the viewer like a travelogue might. They’re typically looking for exciting sensory experiences and like to live vicariously.

Twitter

Twitter users love posts that offer fast information.

via ESPN
via VOX

Pinterest

Pinterest users love pictures of things, not people, that are colorful. DIY, crafting, and home-related images dominate, and users treat their boards as inspiration/shopping lists and planning centers.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

3. Know how to design images

To design more engaging images for social media, keep these basic guidelines to keep in mind.

Balance

Whether it’s symmetrical or asymmetrical, your image should feel harmonious.

Color

Use color to elicit the right emotions in your viewers.

Contrast

Use different colors, sizes or shapes to add contrast.

Direction

Viewers (in Western cultures, at least) naturally view images from left to right and top to bottom. Your important details should be placed accordingly.

Hierarchy

Place your most important elements first, and keep the focus on your overall design goal.

Design by Yaris Design

Lines

Use lines to guide the eyes and create harmony and movement.

Proximity

Group related elements together, and connect them with shapes, fonts and colors.

Repetition

Keep the focus on your branding by sticking to the right colors, fonts and logos.

Trail mix packages
Design by Martis Lupis

Scale

Different elements of your design should have different sizes to create emphasis and help demonstrate your concept.

Space

Keep it simple by using negative space and a minimal number of elements.

Typography

Choose a typeface that communicates your brand’s story.

4. Use the right kind of image

Celebrity selfie at Oscars
Say cheese if you’re famous! Via The Telegraph.

Photos

Use photos when you have a powerful, unusual image that speaks for itself (like the most star-packed selfie ever from the 2014 Oscars).

Collages

There are many ways to use collages, but in general they’re best when you want to showcase a contrast, highlight interesting tidbits about a product or clarify a timeline.

Text over colored background

Use these when you have a powerfully mic-dropping, specific message that needs to stand out.

Design by SP Friedman
Design by SP Friedman

Inspirational quotes designed to motivate (or just make you think) will get lots of social love without any other bells or whistles.

Text over photo

Use text on top of a photo to illustrate the story your text is telling and communicate details in a fun way.

Hand-lettered lounge poster
Via Daily Inspiration on Abduzeedo.

This poster for a lounge night communicates the details in funky hand lettering, making the event look like a total blast.

Illustrations and icons

Using illustrations and icons are best when you want to captivate your audience’s imagination.

Screenshots

These are perfect for explaining something or highlighting its importance.

Time to get those likes!

Now you’ve got a sense of what makes an image super shareable. Use these creative tips and design advice so you can get more likes, clicks and follows!

What are your favorite social media posts? Leave a link in the comments below.