Optimizing Your Pictures for Facebook and Instagram
With the sheer number of personal trainers and coaches turning to social media to attract new clients, it’s not enough to simply upload a few photographs here and there if you want your profile to stand out. Nowadays, creating a flawless social media presence is crucial when you’re trying to cut through the noise and impress your prospects. You need to post eye-catching content that captures your audience’s attention – and for the right reasons. If your images are too large or too small, too blurry or too dark, it can diminish the quality of your posts and your profile pages overall, turning away your followers and fans. So how can you optimize your pictures for Facebook and Instagram?
Next time that you’re getting ready to post an update on social media, we recommend giving some more thought to your pictures. As the old saying goes, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, and never more so than on Facebook and Instagram. Images generate more engagement than text posts alone, but only when they’re crystal clear and uploaded in the right size for the right platform. This might mean setting some time aside to crop and optimize your images, either using apps such as VSCO or Snapseed or image editing tools such as Photoshop or Canva. These tools make it easier to sharpen your pictures, to edit the color balance, add text, filters, and other image effects, in order to create more stunning visuals.
Optimizing Your Images for Facebook
As most PTs will already know, Facebook is no longer just for personal use anymore – it’s a massive platform that brands and entrepreneurs can use to humanize their content, showcase their services, and inspire their audience. Facebook has over 1.56 billion active users – which is 20% of the world’s population and climbing, which presents plenty of opportunities for trainers and coaches to build on their reputation, brand awareness, and business overall, by creating and distributing quality content that’s helpful for their followers.
When it comes to using images on Facebook, it all starts with your profile picture and your cover photo. Your profile picture serves as the primary visual for your Facebook page, appearing next to any and all of your content in the users’ News Feeds. For this reason alone, it’s recommended that you choose an image that is immediately recognizable, like a clear headshot or a logo, that is 180 x 180px in size. If you don’t upload a square-shaped image, you’ll be prompted to crop it, so it’s best to resize the image using a tool like Canva which gives you more editing options, before getting started.
Your cover photo on the other hand should be 851 x 315px. If your photograph is oversized, you’ll have the option to drag and reposition it. Here, you’ll want to use an image that is both visual and at the same time simple, such as an abstract image or pattern, or a landscape shot of something related to your brand as the focal point. The best cover photos tend to incorporate negative space and leave room for the profile picture on the upper left.
There are many different post types on Facebook, from text to links, video to instant articles, but in terms of images, you’ll need to try to stick to a consistent style. The best Facebook images are highly visual, relevant, and light-hearted in nature, and can encourage up to 2.3x more engagement than text posts, accounting for 87% of total interactions. You’ll need to observe a 1.9:1 ratio when selecting your images for the best results, with most businesses sticking to a 1200 x 630px format.
You’ll want to focus on uploading photographs with bright, complementary colors, that show people training, as opposed to just displaying images of exercise equipment and fitness products by themselves. People are highly visual by nature, and images of human faces are 38% more likely to receive likes than those without. In some cases, you may want to use more than one picture to make it clear to your followers how they can benefit from the services you offer. You may want to include an image of a group class, a one-on-one session, as well as a picture of yourself, to get your message across immediately.
Using Photoshop & Canva
Not all Facebook images need to be photographs. You can also use image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Canva to show off your personality and your brand with graphics or to tweak your pictures. Canva is a particularly popular tool when it comes to designing perfectly sized Facebook images, as it has a large selection of free templates, stock images, and photographs to suit most businesses and niches. You can customize one of Canva’s own templates or upload and edit your own photographs, by adjusting the contrast or the brightness, and adding text, or using filters to change the color scheme.
If you want to edit your images to show yourself and your clients in the best light, you’ll need to use Photoshop, which has an airbrush mode on most of its various painting tools. Depending on your familiarity with the software and your editing skills, you can use Photoshop to increase or decrease the size of your body and your muscles, or to hide imperfections such as scars or cellulite. Retouching is a controversial subject, so it’s best not to overdo it. The more you edit the subject of your image, the more you’ll end up warping the backdrop. This can be a dead giveaway that you’ve used Photoshop, and attract the wrong sort of attention.
Optimizing Your Images for Instagram
Behind Facebook, Instagram is the most important social media channel for personal trainers and coaches to market their brand. It’s estimated that the number of active Instagram users in the United States alone will grow to reach 125.5 million by 2023, with 90% of accounts following at least one business. Growing your Instagram following certainly won’t happen without a lot of hard work and engagement, but the quality of your images plays a massive role in making a good first impression and encouraging your reach.
The most common type of posts on Instagram are image posts, which allow you to share a variety of photographs. You can use image posts to your advantage to engage your followers in different ways, and encourage them to take action. Pictures can be uploaded in two formats – either square or rectangular, and should ideally be either 1080 x 1080px or 1080 x 566px in size. Just bear in mind that every image will be shown as a square on your profile page, so if you’re looking for consistency, it’s better to stick to square images.
Instagram is different from Facebook in that its simple layout forces you to focus more on the quality of the content you’re posting, as opposed to the quantity. You can’t hide poor quality or mediocre content on Instagram, meaning that a low-resolution image will stand out like a sore thumb on another otherwise optimized feed. Luckily, you don’t need an expensive camera to take perfect, high-quality shots. The cameras on most modern smartphones will do, especially if you have an iPhone 11 or a Samsung Galaxy S10 at your disposal. The trick is to focus on your lighting and composition, to ensure that it looks just right by:
1. Using Natural Light
Artificial lighting has a tendency to create harsh shadows and unwanted light areas in your photographs. Try to use soft natural light whenever possible, by taking your pictures outdoors, next to a window, or in the half-hour just before sunset and after sunrise, for a more striking backdrop.
2. Following the Rule of Thirds
One trick, popular among professional photographers is the rule of thirds. To instantly improve your image composition, all you need to do is turn on your camera gridlines via your phone’s settings, and then use them to place the subject of your shot at the intersection of one set of vertical and horizontal lines. This helps you to capture the subject in a way that’s more pleasing to look at, by placing it slightly off-center. This creates a slight imbalance that will draw in the attention of your followers.
3. Leveraging Symmetry & Patterns
The human eye is naturally drawn to symmetry and to patterns. You can use this to pull your followers’ eyes towards your photograph, by capturing things such as plants growing up a wall or a tiled floor in the background. Vertical symmetry is commonly used on Instagram and can be achieved by drawing an imaginary vertical line at the center of your composition. If both sides appear symmetrical, your photo will look a little more visually appealing. When it comes to symmetrical shapes, this is the one time where you may want to break the rule of thirds to center the scene in your frame, especially when capturing a bird’s eye view.
Image Editing & Using Filters
Whenever you see a photograph on Instagram that looks a little too good to be real, chances are, it has something to do with how it’s been edited. Thanks to Instagram’s built-in editing tools and filters, you can adjust your pictures quickly and easily to make your image more vibrant and to bring out details. Depending on how creative you feel, you can also use free editing apps such as Snapseed which allow you to apply effects like HDR and tonal contrast, adjust brightness, and increase or decrease the contrast. VSCO is another highly popular app for image editing, as it offers numerous free filters that take the hard work out of finding the right levels of brightness and contrast.
Just be aware that when you’re editing your images, you want to strike a balance between improving the quality of the photograph and demonstrating authenticity. While you want to show off what you can achieve for your clients, pushing too many perfect images can cause clients to switch off. This might seem counterproductive, especially for an industry in which the dominant imagery put forward is usually of thin, tanned, attractive people with well-defined muscles, but social media users have a strong preference for authentic content. This means using images that show the real side of you and your business – genuine moments with real people, and genuine results.
Put Your Images to Work
Of course, true social media marketing is more than just images, and requires a consistent, long term commitment to posting, in order for you to create an authentic relationship with your audience. But in order to stand out in a massive sea of billions of users and millions of businesses to successfully market your fitness brand, you will need to spend some time optimizing your images. Thankfully, there are numerous tools and techniques that you can use to create and edit engaging images, allowing you to stretch the limits of your creativity.
To make Facebook and Instagram images truly work for you, by capturing the interest of users and stopping them from scrolling past, you’ll need to set time aside to optimize your pictures. Blurry, low-resolution images will only hurt your brand. But focus on posting attractive, well-lit images that pop off the screen due to the clever use of filters and text overlays, and you’ll be able to promote your brand in a friendly, authentic, and ultimately more eye-catching way.
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