Visuals have a huge impact on audience engagement, and there is plenty of research proving that content with relevant imagery gets more views than content without. Also, users are far more likely to share visual content on social media than content with no visual support.

See if your message comes across with your chosen image

Over the years, I have seen clients struggle to find the right images to accompany their marketing. Sometimes they see it as a chore; sometimes, however, they just don’t know where to start beyond simply picking a pretty picture.

Here are my five tips to help you choose the right image.

I have seen clients struggle to find the right images to accompany their marketing

1. Always keep your brand in mind. Don’t choose an image just because it’s pretty (or funny, or cool, or unusual)

Your visuals need to tie with your brand’s look and feel. They need to resonate with your audience and be relevant. So, when you choose an image, consider if it fits with your brand, message, and tone of voice. What reaction do you want to elicit from your audience? Will the image you’ve chosen get this response? Run your choice by a small group of colleagues or friends if possible and test to see if your message comes across with your chosen image, especially if you’ve gone down the conceptual route.

2. Create an emotional connection

Emotional connections are the key to effective communication. Your picture needs to tell a story and evoke feelings. You need your audience’s trust, and this can come via an emotional relationship created with the right image. If an image doesn’t produce an emotional connection, don’t use it. Keep searching for the best solution, not the quickest one.

3. The rule of thirds

Choose photographic subjects that have been shot with the rule of thirds, especially for your social media campaigns. Clean, decluttered photos with lots of negative space generally get more engagement than ‘busy’ photos.

The rule of thirds is a well-known photographic technique which breaks an image into a 9×9 square grid. This technique places points of interest in the intersections or along the lines. Studies have shown that when viewing images, people’s eyes tend to naturally head for the intersection points, rather than the dead centre. Negative space (or clear space) around the subject helps to draw more attention to the image you want the user to focus on.

4. Avoid the handshake

Real life photography is a very popular medium for many content publishers. However, clients and audiences are savvy; they can see through the ‘fake handshake’, and don’t engage with images that are generic or cliché.

If you need a business photo, but you don’t want to use your team or offices, consider a more conceptual approach. Use people or animals, just don’t go down the handshake route. If you really want to stand out, invest time in finding the right concept for your project

Audiences can see through the ‘fake handshake’

5. Colour coordinate your visuals

Choosing images that are similar in tone, colour or shooting style creates a stronger, more identifiable brand. If you focus on being consistent, your audience will easily recognise your content and be able to quickly identify your unique touch.