Camille is content manager at Yoast. She writes and optimizes blog posts and enjoys creating content that helps people master SEO.
The web, and our online habits with it, are never at a standstill. One result of our fast-paced online behavior is that we scroll through our social media channels like nobody’s business. Or without having our full attention on it. Most of the time, your social image is the first (or only) thing that users see before they scroll onto the next item. Making sure that this image grabs the attention, helps you convince people to read your social post and click through to your site. So, what are the elements of a good social image? And how do you add it to your page or post?
Table of contents
The elements of a good social image
Social images will probably not be the first thing you’ll think of when it comes to marketing. And don’t worry, you won’t need to create one for every single one of your pages and posts. But adding a proper social image to your most important pages and the ones you want to share on social media, can help you increase brand awareness and attract more visitors to the site. It’s also quite fun!
1. Original and engaging images
Before we get into the details of how to create a social image, we need to start with the basics: the images you use in your marketing. A compelling image can do so much for your product page, blog post or social media post. It’s an important part of branding, building trust, and keeping visitors on your page. Read more on where to get original images for your pages and posts.
When choosing an image for your social post, make sure that it reflects the topic that you’re discussing. Are you sharing a product page on social media? Then it makes sense to use an image of the product. When you’re sharing another page or blog post, choose an image that relates to the topic of this page or post. Whether you’re using your own photos, illustrations or stock photos, make sure that the image is original and engaging enough to pique the interest of your audience. Finding out what works for your audience can be a bit of a trial and error process but will be worth it.
2. Show faces in your images
Humans are attracted to other human faces, and an expressive face definitely attracts the attention of people scrolling through their social media. So try to use faces in your images where you can. Using faces of real customers is always great when you have their permission. But you can also show the people working at your company, or other faces that are relatable for your audience.
Think about the faces you show and whether they are representative of the diversity in your audience. An image can reflect the topic of the page that you’re sharing, but if the person in it isn’t relatable for your audience at all you may need to look a bit further. Or when you keep on showing the same person in your images, this can become a bit tedious. Show a wide variety of people in your images and let your audience know that your product or service is available for everyone.
3. Add a suitable text
This may sound a bit strange, but you want your social image to be able to stand on its own. Even without the accompanying text that will be shown when you share it on social media. Why? Because (hopefully) other people will share your page or post as well, and you won’t have any influence over the text they add to it. So you want your image to do all the talking for you.
You can add the title of your product, page or post as the text in your social image. But you can also make the text a bit more actionable. It’s up to you. Just make sure to be truthful about what people can find on this page. You don’t want to come across as too clickbaity as this will lose your site visitors and followers.
Example of one of our social images at Yoast
4. Think about branding
The example above is one of our recent social images, used for a blog post on 7 ways to improve product descriptions in your online store. Because we have a few illustrators working at Yoast, we were able to use a suitable illustration as the more visual part of this social image. The text we’ve added on the left is the title of the post that was shared and at the bottom, you can find our logo and another illustration of a person that we use in more social images and on our site. All of these elements are a type of branding because they’re unique to Yoast.
Try to add a few or all of the following to your social images:
- Your logo (or company name)
- The tagline of your company
- Your brand colors
It’s not a lot, because you want the focus to be on your image. But adding one or more of these elements can help people recognize your social images and brand. By using your brand colors you will increase this recognition and the trust in your company as a whole. Now, as we said before, it may take some time to realize what works for your audience. And that’s fine. But when you’ve found what works, be consistent in the social images that you share. So when you’ve decided upon a design and placement for all the different elements, keep to this design.
At Yoast, we use a template that allows us to select one of our brand colors, add an illustration or photo and type in the text we want to show on our social image. Easy peasy! This can be a great idea for you as well, especially when you have a team of people working on these social images. Our template is created in Google Slides, but you can use whatever program or software works for you.
Another example of one of our social images at Yoast
5. The title and alt tag of your image
One final thing we want to mention is the title and alt tag of your social image. Of course, these are things that you’ll easily skip when you’re in a hurry. But we’re here to tell you why you shouldn’t do that. Adding an alt tag when you upload your image to WordPress is considered good image SEO practice, so do it with your social images as well. This makes the image more accessible to Google and, more importantly, to people with visual impairments.
As for the title of your image, make sure it reflects the image to make it more accessible to everyone. Even for your own team. Images with names like IMG00248(2).jpg are not easy to find in the media library in the backend of your website. The title and alt tag can and probably will be similar. That’s no problem, just take some time to add them!
To get your social image shown in the best way possible, it’s important to be mindful of the resolution of your image. The recommended resolutions do tend to differ a bit per social media platform and type of social post. In addition, these recommendations also change through time so it can be good to keep an eye on that. Luckily, when you share a URL on social media, the social image size that is shown is rather similar for most platforms.
What we do here at Yoast, is use one image resolution that works for most social media platforms: 1200 x 675 pixels. This does mean that sometimes the edges are cut off on some platforms. That’s why we keep some space around the text and most important part of the image. The benefit of using one image resolution is that we only need to create one social image for our post or page, instead of 4 or 5 variations for different platforms. This saves you a lot of time.
That being said, the recommended size can be very different when you’re advertising on social media or want to create images for an Instagram Story or some other type of social post. If you want to read more about all the different image sizes on social media, Hootsuite has created a great cheat sheet for every network that covers everything.
How to add a social image to your page or post
When you share a page or post on social media, the social media platform will ‘collect’ an image from that page to show as your social image. Which can work, some of the time. But if you want to have control of your social images and show the one you’ve created, Yoast SEO Premium can help you with that. Our Premium plugin comes with social previews that enable you to preview and edit your social snippet.
The Yoast SEO sidebar shows two tabs named Facebook preview and Twitter preview. These tabs open up a new window where you can add your own image, another title and description for this specific social media platform. By clicking the ‘Select image’ button you can upload your new social image and it will be shown when you share this post on Facebook!
The Facebook preview in Yoast SEO Premium allows you to edit the image, title and description shown on Facebook
You can add your own social image and then click ‘Return to your post’
The same principle applies to the Twitter preview. By opening this tab, you can select an image that you want to share on Twitter and edit the title and description shown on Twitter. You will probably notice that the social image that you’ve set for Facebook will automatically be added to your Twitter preview as well. This is to save you time but of course, you’re free to change this to another image.
What about the other platforms?
As Jono explains in his post on social image sharing and how to optimize your og:image tags it’s impossible to specify different images for networks other than Facebook and Twitter. As a workaround for this, your Facebook social image in Yoast SEO is used as a default for all the other platforms. Our plugin will automatically try and specify the best social image for each platform that you share your content on. So, the social image you add in Yoast SEO will probably also be shown there but it can be worth checking out what it looks like the first few times!
Adding a social image to an existing post
When you add a new social image to an existing post, it can take some time for social media to pick up on it. You can check this on Facebook’s debugger, Twitter’s validator, or LinkedIn’s post inspector.
An improved and fast publishing flow
Besides setting your own social images, Yoast SEO also makes it easier to share your freshly published post on Facebook or Twitter right away. After you’ve hit Publish, you will be greeted with a Share your post setting. Simply click the Facebook or Twitter icon to publish your new masterpiece to the platform of your choice.
We also have relatively new Zapier integration that helps you automate workflows by connecting your apps and services you use. This allows you to share to social media automatically. To give an example, Zapier can send out a custom tweet right after you’ve published a post. The custom part meaning that you set up once what these automatic tweets will look like and what they will contain. But with over 2000+ destinations other than Twitter, you can set these automated workflows for any social media platform of your choice.
In this blog post, we’ve discussed five key elements of a good social image, the recommend resolutions per social media platform and how you can add your social image to your post or page. Now it’s up to you! Find out what your audience responds to, decide on a style and start adding those awesome social images to your most important pages. I hope to see them appear in my social media feeds!
Read more: Does social media influence your SEO? »