Marketing Bootcamp

The 5 Qualities That Make an Image Shareable

In his book Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars, Mitch Meyerson introduces you to 22 innovators who have redefined the developing landscape of online marketing. In this edited excerpt, contributing author and founder of Socially Sorted Donna Moritz outlines the five characteristics your online images must have in order to connect with your audience.

Your online images are more likely to attract your visitors' attention and get them to take action if they accomplish one or more of these five goals:

1. It’s original.

Have you ever noticed how we'll gloss over an image that we've seen previously online but stop dead at a new graphic or photo like it’s a piece of hot gossip? We love things that are new, shiny, or different, and we love to share.

You may have heard of the statistic about Pinterest, where 80 percent of content is shared content or “repins.” If you look at other social networks, such as Facebook, the ratio of original to shared content is similar. People love to share new content, especially new visual content. How can you get your content in the 20 percent being shared by 80 percent of us? The answer is to create original images that either help or inspire your target audience.

Here are some examples of original images that prove to be highly shareable across social networks:

How-to images. Think of any sequence or step-by-step process that you could teach your community in image format, using diagrams, photographs, screenshots, or images. Embed these images into a blog post where they're easily shared to social platforms.

Quotes. Quotes are one of the most shared pieces of visual content across social media—in any industry. Consistently posting a mix of daily quotes from people in your industry, or motivational and humorous quotes, can result in shares and engagement.

Tips. What simple tips can you give to your community that will solve their problems? What are their frequently asked questions? Put the answers into a snackable image (adding text overlays) to teach what you know.

Checklists. Our society is so busy and overwhelmed that we covet the quick fix, easy option, and cheat sheet. Checklists take the information we can’t be bothered to find and package it up! Create visual checklists, and your audience will snap them up and share across sites like Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.

Be consistent. The best visual content isn't necessarily the image or video with the best design, typeface, or high-end editing. It’s the content that's posted consistently. Successful businesses not only create but curate content for others to share—we all value quality content creators in our industry. Be the brand that produces attention-grabbing original visual content on a consistent basis. Other businesses will seek you out because you deliver quality visual content on a consistent basis that helps their audience.

2. It’s timely.

There's great power in acting swiftly to post visual content in response to an event, breaking news, or celebration. Posting in real time engages fans emotionally “in the moment” of an event, inspiring them to share and take action.

While I'm supportive of adding a website URL or logo branding on images containing tips/ideas owned by your business, an image released to celebrate an event will often get more shares when branding is removed or minimized because people like to share content as if it's theirs. There are businesses out there craving new content. Give it to them. The success of visual content is less about graphic design and more about catching attention and publishing quickly so others can share.

3. It’s relevant.

It’s important that your visual content is tailored for the platform you're using. Your images should merge seamlessly into the newsfeed experience like the content people are coming for:

On Facebook. Post images that entertain and inspire your target audience while they're there to share with their friends. Don’t just talk about your business, but tell a story. Inspiring quotes or funny photos do well on this platform. People want to know about people on Facebook—they're there to be entertained, not to buy.

On Pinterest. Post images that are high-quality and provide “eye candy” to the user—content and products they’ll want to save and return to. People come for the social shopping experience and to dream about what is possible on Pinterest.

On Instagram. Instagram is about moments in time, a backstage pass, a sneak peek into the people behind the business, not the business itself. Take your community with you using the mobile camera in your pocket. Don’t be afraid to use Instagram video either—15 seconds of video is effective for entertaining time-poor people.

4. It’s snackable.

Use small, easily processed images that provide a quick visual snapshot or preview to a larger article or infographic. When shared, snackable images stand alone to provide content. They help fans make a quick decision about whether to engage with your brand or click through for more. Create small graphs, quotes, tips, or an image containing a small section of content from a bigger blog post or article. Snackable images are best embedded on your blog and shared from there.

5. It drives traffic.

Once you have a person’s attention, what makes them want to engage with your content? An image should provide an invitation to click—it teases and dangles the carrot with a promise of more content that is worth their time. If you don’t know where you want fans to go, how will they?

  • Get clear on what you want fans to do and where you want them to end up when they engage with your visual content: Engagement? Drive traffic to your website? Subscribe to your list?
  • The image should speak for itself. Add back text for context or provide further information in the description.
  • Add a clickable link in the description where possible.
  • Aim for one main call to action per image.
  • Always drive traffic back to your blog or website.
  • Include a header image on blog posts so they can be easily pinned to Pinterest.

For more information or to access exclusive audio interviews with superstars from this book visit