Use these tips to get more mileage out of posts you publish on LinkedIn, Google Plus, Facebook, and your blog.
#1 Remember What Graphics Are For
Graphics grab attention in a noisy online world. Even the best writing will go unnoticed — which means unread — unless you can somehow get the reader’s attention. That’s where your graphics can help. Try to find photos that tell a story or choose colours that stand out. You’re competing with hundreds of other online distractions. The graphic should make the reader curious enough that they want to read the title and intro to your post.
#2 Size Matters
Use the right size to avoid blurry or oddly cropped images. Most social media platforms have very specific dimensions for graphics. Let’s use LinkedIn as an example. When you write a blog post on your personal profile, LinkedIn suggests you add a header image and tells you that it should be 698 pixels wide by 400 pixels high.
Chances are slim to none that you’ll come across an image you love that is exactly 698 x 400. If you’re a Photoshop pro, cropping and editing is easy, but what do the rest of us do? No problem. There are a number of photo editing web tools available. The easiest one I know of is PicMonkey. Upload any image you like (make sure you own the rights to it — see #5 below) and use the ‘resize’ function. Or try Canva. Simply set the new image to the required size, apply a photo frame, then upload your selected photo into the frame. You’ll look like a pro.
It’s a good idea to check out the recommended size whenever you’re thinking of posting a graphic. It’s okay to use an image that’s larger but don’t try to get by with an image that’s smaller than the minimum size required. You could end up with a blurry, stretched mess.
#3 Optimize Graphics for Postage Stamp Sized Thumbnails
Your beautiful graphics won’t always be shown full size. Viewers will see a thumbnail version when they’re using a mobile device and when your article is shared as a link on social media. Also, most news streams, such as on LinkedIn, will reduce your image to a fraction of its original size.
In the picture below, you can see the graphic from a book review I posted on LinkedIn called Power Up with “The Art of Social Media”. The green arrow points to the thumbnail in LinkedIn’s news stream. Notice how the full height of the graphic was retained in the thumbnail, but I lost a bit on either side due to horizontal cropping. You won’t have control over how thumbnails are produced so make sure your graphic has good contrasts. In fact, take a moment to scan the thumbnails in the screen shot below. Which one do you think translates the best? I’d pick the 5th one from the top. The silhouette placed against a golden sky creates a high contrast, easy to see image — even in this tiny format.
#4 Reduce or Remove Text
Less is more. There are two reasons you might not want to include text in your graphic, or at least not too much text. First, the content within a graphic is not visible to search engines. If the text is important to your article, make sure it appears within a paragraph. Second, when the graphic is reproduced elsewhere, your text could end up being so small that it becomes unreadable and your message will be lost.
#5 Find Great Images Without Infringing on Copyright Laws
All images are protected by copyright unless the owner has specifically waived their rights or the rights have expired. For starters, don’t grab images from Google Image Search unless you understand copyright restrictions, public domain laws for your country, or how to work with Creative Commons licensing. Don’t worry. There are lots of places to get images — both paid and free. To help, I published a post called How To Use Free Images Like A Pro. I’ve included my favourite source for free images and a video tutorial on how to edit them using PicMonkey.
There’s so much more we could talk about when it comes to graphics… this post just barely scratches the surface. Have a tip you’d like to share? Jump right in and leave a comment.
Feel free to share a link to show off your work — I’d love to see it!
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