Part of my day job as a Communications Director includes social media marketing. It is always my intention to make sure every post – or at least, a majority of posts – has an accompanying image posted with it. The necessity of images has been an internet rule-of-thumb for years now, but recently I was reminded of another layer to that rule: Your post clicks will increase dramatically based on the quality of the image you choose, not just the existence of any old picture.
My company usually posts pictures that I think are great shots. But recently, we had a photo submitted to us that went above our typical quality. The submitted photo was professionally taken and artfully rendered. It was very modern: the couple in the photograph was laughing and looking at each other, not the camera. They were situated near the bottom corner of the photo, with the backdrop – a large and colorful painting behind them – taking up the majority of the photo. The image was colorful and sharp, with bright hues and many clean lines. It was professional enough to attract people’s immediate interest, but not so over-the-top that it looked like a stock photo.
We posted the photo with one of our recent announcements. That Facebook post had the most traffic of any post my company has made to-date. We reached multiple thousands more than our typical, average reach. I can’t say that all of that post’s success was because of the image, but I do know that we’ve made more interesting and more important posts, all similarly timed and captioned well, that did far worse. So a gripping image dramatically helped.
Part of the reason my company joined the social media bandwagon and hired me to manage their Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram pages was because they knew that was how you market to the next generation. But the next generation is looking for quality online in the same way that other generations looked for quality in other mediums. A lot of dollars go into creating quality TV or newspaper ads that your audience will notice. Many more dollars go into creating whatever product your company sells to ensure you have competitive and quality merchandise. Why do we treat the online side of our company as if no one is noticing that part of our reputation?
Unlike every other form of marketing, social media is an option that can be completely free. Since you aren’t spending any money for the opportunity to use it, your wallet should be available to put cash in the areas surrounding social media use – hiring a professional web designer, occasionally freelancing a professional photographer, sending your marketing team to continuing education workshops, buying your marketing team newer equipment, etc. All of these things will help you generate better images, which will create a more fascinating social media presence and make your organization look like a company that is both personable and professional – a place people desire to work and from where they buy.
Emily Enger is a Millennial farm kid turned farm journalist. She also works in marketing, serving as communications director for a nonprofit that covers nine rural counties in northern Minnesota. These opinions are her own and should not take the place of legal or professional advice. To comment or pitch future topics, email her at For reprint permission, email editor Joan Kark-Wren at