chapter 9

Social Media Photography

On social media, you have a lot more freedom with the creativity and composition of your image. But this doesn’t mean you can get sloppy. Your quality standards should stay the same or get even better. You don’t have to stick to white backgrounds and perfectly centered products, but rather show your products in their intended environment, demonstrate how to use them, or share some photos that promote a lifestyle you want your customers to associate with.

Get creative, but keep quality in mind and adhere to the principles of post-processing, including color correction and cropping. Nothing ruins a brand image more than an out of focus, poorly lit lifestyle photo with dulled colors. Social media is about personality. It’s more casual, but you should still use all your muscle to stand out and promote your brand.

Why Product Photography Needs to be Tailored to Each Platform

The social media world is growing ever more complex, with more people populating the big platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, and tech-savvy groups like millennials splitting their social circle into different channels. Your goal is to find the right mix of channels that best corresponds to your target audience so you can optimize your aim and budget. It’s also to learn how to segment within platforms using groups, hashtags, or the targeting functionality of paid ads.

Focus is key so that you can execute quality campaigns and reach the hearts of your customers instead of just scratching the surface of a broad, uninterested audience. For example, Facebook is maturing and late adopters of older generations are becoming regular users while millennials are still going strong. Some millennials have migrated to Snapchat, where you will also find younger consumers, teenagers in particular. Your product will ultimately define which consumer group you are after and from there, you can tailor your visual content to grab their attention.

It’s vital to have a thought-through strategy for each channel just like you have for your product pages. Keep your branding visual elements uniform, but adjust their intensity and context according to the platform and audience. On Facebook, you have to keep in mind a more mature audience while on Snapchat, you can get away with slightly more “screaming” images.

Employ A/B testing to find what images work best so you don’t under- or over-do it. You can use a tool like Optimizely to test just about anything. Once you settle on a strategy for each platform, outline it with detailed guidelines in your Photography Template so you can easily delegate as you grow. You are also ensuring consistency and optimized workflow, which can save you a lot of time.

Create guidelines about color, composition, and the lifestyle settings for your images. Test and pinpoint the optimum frequency and timing for each platform. Choose the right format including still images, 360-degrees shots, or video. Outline your filters or editing specifications so your images stand as a uniform whole. Let’s take a look at some individual platforms and what works best for them.

Instagram

Instagram has come a long way from a niche hipster mobile app to one of the most popular social media sites in the world. It is the most image-focused platform out there, and since its acquisition by Facebook in 2012, it has introduced a range of commercial features. Most recently, it has introduced a Buying functionality and a powerful integration with Shopify stores. So know that brands can not only use it to raise awareness, but can also have a more direct approach to increase sales directly from the app.

Source: MVMT Watches

Tell a Story

Instagram allows you to use your images to tell stories using a series of photos. You can make your brand feel more human and really engage your audience with more casual and uncut images.

Style Over Quality

Instagram loves fashion and lifestyle pictures that don’t necessarily have to be highly art directed. As long you as you show your brand’s true personality in a unbiased and eye-catching way, your images will do well on the platform.

Consistency

You can certainly sacrifice some quality for character here, depending on your product and brand image, but try to keep it generally consistent. Use filters, camera angles, colors and lifestyle images that are in line with your brand's core image for maximum impact.

Minimalism

Instagram loves simplicity. Simple, color-saturated images that evoke a feeling work better than complicated compositions. Minimalist still life, where your product is not the center of attention but casually dropped in, work well.

Source: Desigual

Collages

Use close-ups and fragments of the whole picture to puzzle together collages to engage your audience. The Instagram crowd loves those as well as colors, bright and untamed, that run through your images telling a story of their own. Use the Rule of Thirds, a photography technique that splits the images into nine segments, for collages or individual images to produce  interesting and engaging results.

Instagram is powerful and is about to get even more so as consumers grow comfortable with buying directly from the site. So keep your photos sharp and tell your story.

Facebook

Facebook is where millennials and slightly older generations live, and the social media giant is constantly evolving to accommodate their visual and video needs. This includes helping brands to reach them more effectively with visual content – Facebook retargeting is one of the most powerful tools for marketers out there.

Facebook Retargeting

Retargeting (or remarketing) is using the data your store generates about your customers to better advertise to them somewhere else, in this case, on Facebook. Say, a customer visits your store and sees a pair of glasses they like. They want to buy them but their phone rings, and they get distracted and close the page. A few days later they see a photo of the same glasses in their feed with a Buy button. That’s retargeting.

This type of highly individualized approach gives wings to your visual content. You can use this technique to remind, upsell, and cross-sell any of your products. You can employ traditional static ads with a single engaging image or dynamic ads with a carousel of product images generated based on the user’s engagement with your store. It’s a powerful marketing and conversion tool. Now, let’s take a look at what kind of images Facebook likes. Learn more about Facebook Retargeting on the Pixc blog.

Impact is Key

There is a lot of noise on Facebook, and people tend to scroll through their feeds quite speedily, so keep your images simple and impactful. You can keep them casual, but some stylizing can add consistency and help your brand be recognized quicker.

Source: Zara

Try New Formats

The social network often introduces new features and types of visual content, like the Carousel ads that accommodate 360-degree photography. New formats can be more engaging and give your brand a boost so keep an eye out and experiment.

Stay Ahead of Trends

Facebook has over 2 billion users and is constantly evolving with image styles, like GIFs, Boomerangs, Cinemagraphs, and videos coming in and out of fashion. Stay ahead of the curve and adjust your visual content accordingly.

Keep Your Images Sharp

Keep in mind that your images have to look good both on desktop and mobile so size them accordingly.

Lifestyle Photography

Facebook allows you to highlight your products in lifestyle images, show how much they cost, and lead the viewer to your store. This is a great way to engage users and help them associate your product with events and places.

Snapchat

Snapchat is the social network where teens hang out, and many leading brands have gone to meet them there with lively content. The key here is to keep it raw and tell visual stories that resonate. Young people prefer more screaming, bright, and crowded photos packed with text, emojis, and symbols.

Snapchat is the most casual of all social media platforms, and corporate stiffness does not fare well with its users. Brief and catchy content is the key to unlocking the power of this social network. You can still use popular social media approaches like influencers and storytelling, but you have to make them snappier.

You can create sponsored lenses on Snapchat that a user can apply to their snaps and share with their network. Some of the most popular lenses have included Taco Bell’s Cinco de Mayo’s filter that turned a user’s head into a giant taco and Gatorade's Super Bowl release of the Gatorade shower lens that went viral.

And with more than 173 million daily users, Snapchat has passed its days as a underdog and is being creatively adopted as a key marketing channel to reach younger generations by leading brands.

Source: AdEspresso

Pinterest

Pinterest caters to a more mature audience and, for the most part, to stand out you have to put some work into quality images and informative content that offers the user value or insight into your brand. Well-polished images of mostly lifestyle and in-context products work well with some clean-cut photos of popular items mixed in.

Pinterest demands a more polished look because it is populated by a middle-age, largely female crowd with considerable disposable income. Users often search for products or follow brands on the social network in order to gather information prior to making a purchase. That makes Pinterest very effective in generating traffic to brand websites with 5% of social media referral traffic.

If you want your Pins to stand out and look their best, you have to invest some time in sizing them correctly. Pins are vertically oriented similar to smartphone screens, so styling your photos to be most appealing in that format is key for maximizing their impact. The Pinterest users love simple easy to digest content that is inspiring and in an infographic-type format so aim to offer powerful images.

Manage Social Media Posts and Ads with Kit

When it comes to multi-channel social media campaigns with different sets of images, segmenting, and scheduling, juggling them can take a massive chunk of your time. That is where Kit comes in, Shopify’s free intuitive proactive virtual employee. With a few simple text messages, Kit will build and publish posts and ads to social media, giving you more time to do other important work for your business. Shopify has recently released Ping, the best place to work with Kit, which offers previews and editing of your ads right in your conversation.

Within Ping, Kit will learn and remember your preferences to be more intuitive with every interaction. Kit stays on top of shopping trends and gives you insight into its recommendations for timely ads, giving you context and make better-targeted decisions in your overall marketing strategy.

Next chapter

10. Product-Specific Photography Tips

6 min

Start your free 14-day trial today!