...visuals make your readers stop and pay attention

Many of those who have seen me speak at conferences and who read my articles have heard me say repeatedly how important it is to never post anything to social media without an image. 

If you need more reasons why, here are some stats that help to back me up: your audience is much more willing to engage with visual content. In fact, 40% of online users have a more favorable response to visual content than plain textual content. For instance, tweets with images get 150% more retweets than tweets without images, while Facebook posts with images generate 2.3 times more engagement than posts without them (all stats from this article).

Simply put, visuals make your readers stop and pay attention. Without them, your content can fall flat and just doesn't "pop" as much as it could if it had a compelling visual to highlight something in it. There’s a reason why they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Images create stickiness – they help people remember things better. They also enable you to get your logo out there, reinforcing your brand and getting your firm name in the market more. Also, you need to use every trick in the book to capture the attention of clients, prospects, recruits and other target audiences in this very competitive market.

Including images in your posts (remember to also include your logo!) makes your content (and your firm) more engaging, interactive, relatable and memorable, and can help attract new followers as well as keep your existing audiences interested in what you have to say. You also look like a modern, 21st century firm, and in the legal industry where the bar in social media can at many times be low, this is a very good thing. Stand out from the pack whenever you can. Also, keep in mind that visual social content is a quick way to:

  • uniquely express your brand enabling you to stand out from your competitors
  • bring boring information to life
  • highlight important data
  • differentiate your firm and lawyers
  • showcase your practices/industries and news about the firm and lawyers
  • increase traffic to your web site (including lawyer bios, which are the most-visited and I think the most important pages on law firm web sites) and blogs

One of the worst things you can do today besides posting no image to social media is to post an incorrectly sized photo to social with your content. That demonstrates that you 1.) lack fundamental understanding of the social networks on which you are posting and 2.) did not take the time to resize your photos for each platform (remember one size does not fit all when it comes the content you post on each social platform or the photos you use), which isn’t being very client-centric or putting yourself in the shoes of your audience.

The good news is that it’s very easy to resize, compress, edit, crop and convert your photos today for most people even from your mobile phone. You certainly do not need a graphic designer or Photoshop to do it (although designers are terrific for many kinds of projects!). There are many free online tools that will easily enable you to do resize and create simple images such as picresize.comresizeimage.netsimpleimageresizer.com and more. These sites are all pretty no frills and easy to use. You just upload your photo, make the adjustments and then resave it.

If you are on the go and trying to edit a photo and post it from your mobile device, just know that what you can do is somewhat limited. You can’t natively resize an image from your iPhone (which is a huge bummer), so you’ll need to download an app like Image Size, Resize Image, Photo & Picture Resizer, PicsArt or one of the other photo resize apps available on iTunes for iOS users. Many of these are also available for Android users – a whole area of smartphones of which I am not going to pretend I am an expert (insert smiley face). By using tools like these, you can take headshots, practice area images and other snapshots and easily resize and then post them to your social media channels. 

Reusing and repurposing visual and content assets to your advantage is one my favorite social media tricks, and one of which so many companies do not take enough advantage. You can pretty much repost all of your visuals – practice area images, bio photos, photos from your firm history archives, event snapshots, web site and blog images, images from invitations – and use them again to tell a new story.

Repurposing photos from events on social media channels is one of things I love to do to highlight your people, which also helps to encourage them to share the content especially if you tag them in the posts, which you can easily do on Twitter and LinkedIn by inserting the @ sign right before their name. They will receive a notification that you mentioned them in the post. You can create a photo collage using Picstitch or another photo collage tool to feature several groups of people who attended an event and to show the diverse spectrum of individuals who attended your event.

While most often the photos that you take on your iPhone at an event will be just fine to repurpose on social, if you use a flash they will sometimes need editing that goes beyond what is built into your phone. For example, recently upgraded to an XS Max, and I've been having a lot of issues with red eye whenever I use the flash with groups of people (which can usually be corrected), but more problematic are the issues that I am having with white eye when I use the flash, which makes some people, including myself, look like zombies in photos, which is never a good thing, unless you are taking photos of characters in the Walking Dead not people who work in the legal industry (although sometimes it's hard to tell which is which - just kidding). 

White eye is a result of something called "white reflex," which happens when light reflects off the optic nerve. It has to do with the angle in which we hold the camera, and it is very difficult to avoid doing when taking photos. You can sometimes fix white eye using standard editing tools, but oftentimes you cannot. There are apps that can help rectify issues like this as well as troubleshoot more advanced photo problems right from your phone, such as Adobe Photoshop Express and VSCO. I've started playing around with these apps, but they are not for a quick photo edit and they definitely take some time to master, because there are so many options from which to choose in terms of editing your photos, such as adding filters, adjusting the brightness, contrast, sharpness, exposure, saturation, tone, white balance, skin tone, grain, fade, etc. 

If you want to take your visual images to the next level, try using Canva.com to create custom images with graphics and text. They have many already designed templates in which you can just upload your photo or text and depending on your membership, you can gain access to their robust stock image library as well, which is very useful when trying to add visual interest to a post. 

For example, I often make images for my LinkedIn Publisher posts using one of Canva's templates, which I edit a bit and since they do not currently have a LinkedIn Publisher header image, I create my own custom size (600 by 322 pixels), which is what LinkedIn recommends. I also often create images for my LinkedIn posts as well as my blog posts using Canva. They have a terrific stock image library with many free images that you can use to create your own images from scratch. On average, it takes me about five minutes to create custom images from start to finish for my LinkedIn and blog posts, and I am not graphic design savvy in the least, so if I can do it, you can do it!

Sometimes the optimum image sizes for the various social platforms change due to tech enhancements, so it's a good idea to do a Google search every few months for the latest specs. Here’s a handy cheat sheet on the latest image sizes to use when posting images from Social Media Today. In short, it's never been easier to post an image to social media and armed with these tools, now you have no excuse not to post a custom image to accompany your social content!

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[Stefanie Marrone helps law firms effectively tell their stories and find their unique voices. Over the last 17 years, she has worked with some of the most prominent and innovative law firms in the world, developing and executing global revenue generating business development and communications strategies, including media relations, branding, and multichannel content marketing and social media campaigns. She is very passionate about using social media for lead generation and brand building. She has a diverse range of experience in both Big Law and mid-size/small-law firms. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her latest writing on JD Supra as well as her blog The Social Media Butterfly.]

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