Social Media Images: 5 Options [Examples]

How To Upgrade Your Social Media Image When You Don’t Have Any

Images, especially photographs, are 2012’s social media darlings across platforms from Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram. They act like glue to attract attention and keep participants interacting.

So what can you do if your organization doesn’t have the legal and/or intellectual property rights to use these images and photographs across social media platforms? With the expanded use of images across social media platforms, here are five alternatives marketers can leverage. (Of course, don’t forget to integrate your brand!)

  1. Use your words. A photograph may be worth a thousand words, but if you don’t have the right to use them, then words may be the next best thing. Specifically, make your words into images so that they can be used across platforms. ESPNw creates what they call tiles that they use on Facebook and Pinterest.
    Social media image with text

    ESPNw uses text images on Facebook

    Alternatively integrate a photograph with changeable text so that it appears you’ve been updating your Facebook Timeline photograph. Here’s an example from Oreo’s Facebook page. (Here are some other Facebook examples complete with tips!)

    Oreo uses text in social media image

    Oreo combines text and photos in Facebook image

  2. Create an infographic. Integrate your information into an easy-to-understand graphic or chart format. Where possible, get creative resources to design the images to make them more attractive and shareworthy. Infographics are social media magnets that attract lots of social shares. The challenge is ensuring that the facts are correctly presented and well documented. Here’s an infographic that provides a checklist while showing readers how to create an A-list blog.

    Infographic shows how to create A-list blog on

    Infographic using text and graphics on

  3. Showcase your customers’ photographs. Encourage your customers and fans to snap hero photographs of your product in action. Additionally you can get employees to contribute. Often all you have to do is ask. For example, on Ford Motor Company’s Facebook Page, the firm highlights photographs of their cars that customers send in, particularly older models.
    Ford posts customers photos of Ford cars on Facebook

    Ford uses customers' photographs on Facebook

    By contrast, ESPNw has created a large mosaic of photographs that participants contribute to and viewers can focus on specific sports.

    ESPNw Gets customers involved with photos

    ESPNw's customer photos

    ESPNw Customers Photos

    ESPNw's Customer Photo Mosaic

  4. Curate other people’s images. Just because you don’t have rights to photographs doesn’t mean you can’t highlight other people’s images with appropriate rights and attribution. This tactic is very specific since we believe in intellectual property rights. For example, Billboard created a BBMA 2012: Best Dressed board on Pinterest where they repined other people’s images that they didn’t own.

    Curate other people's photographs

    Billboard pinned other entities' images on their Pinterest Board

  5. Leverage free resources.  You can get copyright free images from archives that curate pubic domain photographs and illustrations. Among your options are U.S. Government Photos and Images library, the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog and Wikipedia’s Free Images Resource Index (Hat tip to Webmaster Larry Aronson).

Just because you don’t have appropriate photographs to share on social media platforms, doesn’t mean you should avoid these platforms. Instead strategize as to how you can gather related content and optimize it to achieve your social media objectives. Now that you’ve realized the need for photographs and images, make sure you plan ahead when doing professional shots for other marketing or business needs. Additionally, always have your camera or smartphone ready to capture that useful shot (BTW, well known blogger Chris Brogan always uses his own images.) What images have you used on social media platforms from Facebook to Pinterest? How did you ensure that you had rights to use the content? Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

Here are some related articles about using photographs and images in social media.

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