Social media is fueled by images.
It’s true. Facebook posts with images outperform every other type of post — by a significant margin. Not only in “likes”, but in “shares” as well. Guess what? Same thing for twitter. And, of course, there’s the motherload of image sharing, Pinterest, with it’s 72.8 million users (and growing!).
Despite all of this, I see a lot of authors who don’t use many images in their blog posts. As a result, their content doesn’t get as much of the “lift” from social media sharing as they would wish.
This post will teach you how to easily and quickly make the two images you need to supercharge your blog posts for more shares and increased readers.
Two Pics… Two Pics Only, Please
I know, I know — why two images? Why not one? The reason comes down to the two types of social media. You’ve got the conversation type, like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+; and you’ve got the image type — mainly, Pinterest.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ all prefer horizontal images with a near 2:1 ratio. Pinterest, however, prefers vertical pictures, with a heavy favor for a 720:1100 image size. Trying to cross-post images on either one ends up with that image being either truncated or reduced — both of which are bad.
By making two images, you ensure that as your post is shared across social media it will be maximized for all possibilities.
Setting Up The Featured Image
First, make the horizontal image, and you want to shoot for 1200×667 if you can. That is very ideal size ratio as it provides optimal exposure on pretty much everything.
Since it’s the image that catches the reader’s eye, you should consider placing text on top of the image in order to call reader attention to action. This text might be just a title clarifying the link the pic is attached to (like ours above). It might be a snippet from a review, or a direction to sales (“Available now on Kindle”), or a subtitle, an author’s note — the choice is yours.
To do that, you start with a plain 1200×667 pixel image, then layer in text and branding as needed. The image progression below shows how we made our featured image, starting with a base image, then laying the message text, followed by some branding text, then a faint layer of color wash just to make the text stand out a little more clear. You can do this with services like PicMonkey or Canva, free programs like GIMP, and even some phone apps.
This horizontal image will not only be embedded in your blog post, just as ours is above, but it will also be used as your blog post’s “Featured Image.” If you have have your site’s meta information properly aligned, then facebook, google+, and twitter will instantly recognize your featured image and post it in their streams. This means that when anyone likes or shares your content, the image optimized for that service will automatically be placed in the feed.
We’re Going Vertical!
Blogger extraordinaire Runwiki recently swung by to talk about how authors can best use Pinterest, and now we’re going to give a practical demonstration of how to put those principles into action.
The good news is, authors have it pretty easy when it comes to the vertical image — because chances are your book’s cover image is already optimized for Pinterest.
The standard book size for Kindle cover image (approximately 1577×2400) is already in the ideal Pinterest ratio — another reason why books naturally do well on Pinterest.
You have the option of overlaying text on your image as we did in the image to the right. But, most importantly for Pinterest, is to make sure that meta data is populated with a strong description entered into the image’s title area, as seen below.
Let The Platforms Do The Work
It can be a bit daunting for authors to try and promote a book and build your brand today. The gold rush heyday of 2011 is long past and, with more and more self publishers and small presses out there creating great books, it can be hard to break out.
While the days of simply having decent cover art and a 99 cent price tag are over, the good news is that there are so many great tools out there to help you branch out across the web and connect with your audience. The trick is knowing how.
Inserting two images with these ratios into your site’s posts and pages can easily and effectively leverage the power of social media to get your books out there and build your brand as an author. They aren’t hard to make, and they are definitely worth the time and improve your post’s visibility, as you can see in the side-by-side comparison above.
The trick is to prepare yourself — and your blog posts — for success by having your images, SEO, etc all optimized for the social web. After that, let the system do the work for you.
Good luck and write well.