by Juan Robin II
Every business needs to be active on social media to be relevant in today’s digital world.
If your company is on social media, you’re probably uploading photos to your profile on a regular basis. Pictures and other visual elements will improve your marketing strategy.
But it can be challenging to find the right pictures to post.
Let’s say you want to upload at least one new picture to a social platform each day. That’s 365 images per year.
Many businesses don’t have a library of that many original photos. They just take random pictures and post them to their profiles last minute without putting much thought or effort into it.
This will be a major problem for your business if you’re using a similar strategy.
Everything you share with your followers on social media must have a purpose. To get the best results from your campaigns, you need to produce content of high quality.
Fortunately for you, modern technology allows you to have a professional quality camera in your hand or pocket at all times.
You don’t need fancy equipment to take great marketing photos. All you need is some basic photography skills and inspiration for your subjects.
If the photos you add to social media don’t look professional, they’ll hurt your brand image. That’s why I identified these 12 tips to improve your social media marketing photos.
1. Create balance with grid lines
The rule of thirds is one of the most basic photography skills you should know.
This technique will improve the composition of your photos and create balanced, visually appealing images.
Your smartphone allows you to enable grid lines when you’re taking a photo:
This feature makes it easier for you to follow the rule of thirds.
The grid is very simple: two vertical and two horizontal lines spaced apart equally.
You should position your subject and anything important in your photo where those lines intersect.
An amateur photographer centers everything on the screen. But that’s not appealing.
By using the rule of thirds, you will create a better image with more room to breathe.
Just look at all the open space in the skyline above. This puts more emphasis on your subject.
Plus, people are used to seeing this tactic in professional photography, whether they realize it or not. When someone sees a photo without the rule of thirds applied, the image will seem less attractive to them.
2. Find symmetry
Symmetry is another visual element we are naturally drawn to.
If you have the opportunity to capture symmetry in an image, you should definitely do so.
Here’s a great example of a photograph with symmetry:
It’s simple, but it works.
Now, take a moment and imagine what this photo would have looked like if it weren’t taken from this angle.
If the camera was positioned slightly to the left or right, the symmetry would be lost.
Sure, it may still seem like a nice picture of a walkway leading into a clear ocean on a beautiful day. But capturing the symmetry elevates the image and brings it to a more professional level.
Your pictures need to stand out to draw attention of your followers.
If it looks as if an amateur is taking the photos, it will reflect poorly on your brand. We both know you don’t want that to happen.
3. Crop instead of zooming
Another rookie mistake I see people make all the time is using the zoom feature.
Manually zooming on a subject is a big no, unless you’re using a professional camera.
But as I said before, that type of equipment is unnecessary. Your smartphone will capture pictures that are good enough to post.
However, once you start zooming, you will damage the quality of the photo.
Instead of zooming, get closer to your subject. If that’s not possible, don’t worry about it. Take the picture from where you are, and use the rule of thirds to improve the composition.
After the photo is taken, you can crop the image to your liking.
Here’s an example of how to do this in Adobe Photoshop:
For the most part, you shouldn’t need to do this on your computer. You can crop photos directly on your smartphone.
Notice the rule of thirds within the crop.
The reflection in the water is also a nice touch, but I’ll talk more about that shortly.
4. Embrace natural frames
Framing your image is another basic photography skill. No, I’m not referring to developing your photo and putting it into a wooden box.
Sometimes, subjects are perfectly positioned to be captured within natural frames surrounding them.
Any time you have the chance to use a natural frame, you should take advantage of it.
Here’s a simple photo of an airplane wing that has a natural frame:
This image is perfect for many reasons.
First, if you try to get too close to the window to take the picture, you’ll end up getting a glare. Second, the wing by itself is too boring.
By including the window in the picture, the photographer elevated its quality. You also get to see the light and the shadows around the natural frame.
Here’s the thing, if you’re not happy with the natural frame, you can always edit it out by cropping the image, as I previously discussed.
When you’re taking a photo, keep an eye out for natural frames such as trees, fences, bridges, archways, or anything else that creates a similar framing effect.
5. Look for reflections
I briefly mentioned this before when I talked about cropping. Taking photos of reflections can add a unique perspective to your photos.
Check out this example from Todo Bien Tours:
Todo Bien gives private coastal bus tours in southern California.
Obviously, they want to show their social media followers what their bus looks like. But rather than just showing a boring picture of the bus, they use a reflection to capture the water and coastline during a sunset.
It’s a creative way to show off your photography skills.
Taking a picture of just the bus or just the sunset would be pretty basic. But capturing both in the window reflection elevates this campaign to new heights.
6. Shoot repeating patterns
Just like symmetry, patterns are another great way to capture the attention of your followers.
Sometimes, finding the right pattern is all about shooting from the right angle and perspective. Just look at this photo of bike wheels:
You can’t see this pattern from other angles.
If you step back and photograph these bikes from above or head on, the pattern wouldn’t be the same. It would look like just a row of bikes.
Yes, the subject may still be relevant enough and usable for your marketing campaign, but it can be improved by using this strategy.
7. Get a tripod and mount for your mobile device
Earlier, I said you don’t need a professional camera or expensive equipment to take high quality photos for your social media campaigns.
But it can’t hurt to invest in something small, such as a tripod and mount for your smartphone.
The tripod will allow you to go hands-free when taking a picture. Plus, it helps ensure the image is level.
You can also use this equipment to extend the distance between you and the camera while holding your phone securely and comfortably.
Joby has a bunch of great products for this purpose:
You can check out this and thousands of other, similar, websites to find what you need.
Most of these are pretty inexpensive. You can find a quality stand and mount for under $50. It’s worth having even if you don’t use all the time.
8. Create a new perspective
You don’t want your social media marketing photos to look like everyone else’s.
It’s important for your brand to come up with new perspectives to separate yourself from the crowd.
I really like this example from Tropicfeel I found on its Instagram page:
The picture itself is beautiful. The houses, ocean, and coastline grab the attention of an audience right away.
But something about this photo is a little bit different.
It’s not typical for people to put their legs and feet in this type of shot. Usually, you’d expect this to be a selfie or just a landscape shot.
But Tropicfeel uses this unique perspective to showcase its product, which is the shoes in the photo.
Look at the caption.
The team created a new hashtag #tropicselfeet to encourage others to take this type of photo as well. This is a great way to write Instagram captions that drive engagement.
Find a perspective that’s unique to your brand.
For example, let’s say your company sells skateboards. Rather than taking a picture of a guy on a skateboard, you could mount a camera to the nose of the board.
9. Take candids
You don’t always want to take pictures of your products.
People are great subjects for your social media campaigns. In fact, photos with faces get 38% more likes and 32% more comments than photos without them.
But your subjects don’t always need to be posing.
Candid shots add a human element to your brand. They show people in natural action instead of posing for the camera.
Take a look at these photos on the Thule Facebook page:
None of the people are posing. All of the shots are candid.
The reason why this works is it shows people behaving naturally when doing something.
This is an opportunity for you to showcase how your products and services can be used.
I also like the idea of taking candid photos of your employees. Showing your staff in photos will create a more authentic connection with your audience. Your followers will realize there are real people behind your brand.
10. Get abstract
Think outside the box.
I am sure you realize how many pictures are flooding the timelines of your followers on a daily basis. If your marketing photos don’t jump off the page at them, they’ll simply keep on scrolling.
Abstract images are a great way to capture attention, like this one from the Allbirds Instagram page:
Allbirds has a line of shoes called tree runners. Many of their posts include nature and different photos of trees.
This one is definitely one of the most unique photos you’ll see on the brand’s profile.
It’s art painted onto a fallen tree trunk. The image on this unconventional canvas is a nature scene, which also includes trees.
At first glance, a social media user might not even realize what they’re looking at.
But it’s definitely enough to stop them in their tracks for further examination.
11. Be funny
Stop taking yourself seriously.
OK, there are certain businesses that need to be more serious than others. If your company specializes in services such as financial investments or funerals, you probably shouldn’t be cracking jokes on social media.
But those types of brands are few.
If your company sells products or services to a target audience that can appreciate some humor, don’t be afraid to take a funny photo for your social media campaigns.
In fact, 36% of consumers are prompted to make a purchase after seeing a funny post from a brand on social media.
Posting a humorous photo can do much more for you than just drive engagement. This strategy can directly lead to sales.
Just make sure you stay away from controversial subjects.
I don’t recommend making jokes about subjects such as politics or religion. Photos like that can damage your brand.
Keep it light, but stay professional.
12. Don’t be conventional
How can you make your marketing photos jump off the page to social media users?
You want your posts to make people say, “Wow!”
Leave them in awe. Here’s an example from the Vuori Instagram page:
This post is advertising men’s swimwear.
A conventional idea would be to post a picture of the swim trunks. That’s boring.
Another idea could be to show a model wearing the bathing suit or even swimming in it. But again, that’s boring.
It’s conventional, and audiences expect those types of posts from brands.
You know what’s not conventional? A guy jumping off a cliff into the ocean wearing those shorts.
This photo is awesome. It’s the type of post that will grab the attention of users on social media.
If you want to run successful social media campaigns, you need to focus more attention on the quality of your marketing photos.
Don’t worry: you don’t need to buy expensive equipment or hire someone to do this for you. It’s easy to take and edit photos without hiring a professional.
All you need is some basic photography skills to get you started in the right direction.
After that, decide what types of photos will speak to your target audience on these platforms.
Use this guide as an inspiration for your future marketing photos.
What types of photos does your brand share with people on social media?