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Picking Shareable Images For Social Media: Shutterstock Shares Tips

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We’ve all heard “content is king,” and in the social media world imagery is no exception. But what kinds of images get the most attention? To help us solve the mystery, we turned to the visual experts at Shutterstock. Who better to help crack the shareable-image case than an online stock photo shop with 35 million images?

The Shutterstock social media team took a look at some of their most shareable images to help Ebyline figure out what elements make a photo share-worthy.

This image earned more than 50,000 notes on Tumblr.

This image earned more than 50,000 notes on Tumblr.

Here’s a recent winner, with more than 50,000 notes on Tumblr. Sarah Maloy, Shutterstock’s social media manager, says the image was posted when hot chocolate was trending and the social media crowds couldn’t help but share the chocolaty goodness.

The photo at right, of ants gathering around a raspberry, was another highly shared image on Shutterstock’s social media sites, part of a featured macro series. The image got a lot of love on both Facebook and Twitter.

Team of Ants Gathering Wild Strawberry - Andrey Pavlov

What is it about these two shots that make them so shareable? And how can your brand get in on the sharing sensation? We asked Maloy for tips on how your brand can find sharable images.


Select striking images

The two images above are striking. They catch your eye and hold your attention for a few seconds. Those are the kind of images that people love to share. Look for images that have bright colors or stark contrast, Maloy suggests. When someone is swiping through their social media feed on their phone, the image should stand out. If the image is bold enough, your customer will stop and check it out.


Go for the unusual

The shot of the ants and the raspberry is out of the ordinary, at least for your typical amateur shutterbug. Any time you can use pictures that are a little surprising or unusual, you should do so.


Go for high quality

The era of the ubiquitous camera phone means a torrent of amateur selfies, photo bombs and duck faces. One easy way to stand out is to select images that are clearly a cut above. Professional photographers took both the images above and it clearly shows.

If your company has a photographer, put them to work shooting your product or service in unique ways. Whether you’re shooting a table of t-shirts or a guy changing the oil in a car, you need a trained photographer who has an eye for detail. These pictures can accompany stories about your business on social media.


Search for pictures with “feeling words”

Of course, you’ll only use your business shots for select posts. What do you do when you need an image for a not-so-picturesque blog post that you want to share on social media? That’s where resources such as stock image sites, creative commons-licensed photos and even customer-generated images come in. When searching a database, such as Shutterstock’s, for images Maloy suggests using search terms that evoke emotion. Scroll through the images until you see one that stops you in your tracks. Then you know you’ve got a winner.


Yes, cats are popular

The Internet-Famous Grumpy Cat

The Internet-famous Grumpy Cat

For some reason, pictures of cats work on social media as well as they did on PCs. Why? Well, it’s not exactly rocket science, Maloy says: people like furry creatures. The photo at left is listed by Mashable as one of one the most popular social media images of 2013.

Of course, you need a reason to share a picture like this. If you write a blog post about cats or sympathize with Mr. Grumpy’s facial expressions on a particularly rough Monday morning, go ahead and post away. Just don’t go cat crazy.


What images have done well on your social media sites? We’d love to know. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.