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Hootsuite, the social media platform that allows you to manage all your other social media platforms from one screen, has so much more experience with using Twitter and other platforms than I will ever have, so I turn to their blog for inspiration often. And here’s a summary of a great post there with 5 Lessons about Images – why they work and when they don’t, based on their 20,000 Tweets.

Tweets are limited in length – just 140 characters. Tweets contain lots of shorthand abbreviations for common words as well as url shorteners when embedding a link into a tweet is required. And that’s why the universal lesson is so important: A tweet without an image is a wasted opportunity. But not every image will have the same impact, and some may convey a contrary message to what you wish. Adding a photo of a beautiful sunset or a flower at the peak of its bloom to a post about your upcoming interview on KPBS radio about your latest murder mystery will likely confuse your audience, no matter how artfully the photo appears.

Here are the five lessons Hootsuite has shared about the how and why of selecting images for their tweets.

  • Words within images – a killer combination
  • Get thing moving – use gifs.
  • Image cliches are cliches because they work.
  • Take what people expect of you, throw it out the window.
  • What do your followers share? Share that.

The first lesson – words within images is a killer combination – may seem counter-intuitive. Why include words in an image at all? Because readers are more likely to stop scanning when they come to an image.

The example below illustrates one way that words can be included in an image. The image catches the readers attention, improving the likelihood that the reader will read the message. And the longer the reader stays on the image, the greater the likelihood the reader will click a link in the tweet to read the rest of the message.

Joyful Mystery by ChadMT, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  ChadMT 

 

The second lesson – get things moving – require embedding videos, such as YouTube videos, or gifs.

Videos can be embedded directly into a blog by using the “embed” code which appears when you select the “Share” option below the video and then selecting “Embed” from the “Share Embed Email” options that then appear.


Gifs are a special type of image – images with movement. And giphy.com is a source for gifs for those of us who don’t have the resources to create our own. See the sample from giphy.com.

Dance Party

The third lesson – image cliches work because they are cliches. Everyone loves watching videos of kittens and puppies. Any baby animals, in fact. So images – relevant images with relevant text – that include baby animals will catch attention. Don’t avoid what works, but make sure the whole image relates.

The fourth lesson – take what people expect of you, and throw it out the window. This lesson works when it is used only occasionally. After all, you are a brand. But now and then, doing something out of character, something even shocking, can be effective at getting your audience’s attention.

The final lesson – share what your followers share – helps build your community. And that is the entire point behind social media, to build your community so that potential readers of your book feel connected.

For examples from Hootsuite that illustrate the images that worked, as well as a few that didn’t, check out 5 Lessons about Images.

Here’s another view on what images to use and which to avoid, from CopyBlogger.

  • Avoid obvious stock photos.
  • Stay away from the patently ridiculous.
  • Resist images unrelated to your content.
  • Avoid busy, complex images.
  • Avoid using images that are copyrighted without permission.
  • Look for images that look like real life.
  • Hunt for images that “say” something about your article.
  • Don’t be afraid to use humor.

CopyBlogger has lots to add about where to find images and how to use images to the greatest advantage (by adding text! just like Hootsuite’s first lesson).

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