The Highest Converting Images to Use on Social Media Networks

highest converting images header

You’ve done everything you can think of to boost your conversion rate via social media, or at least that’s what you think. You follow all the social networking best practices, you post at the optimal times, and you follow back everyone who follows you. But are you using the right pictures?

I hate to be the one to bring you a reality check, but you know that super-attractive happy looking woman holding a toothbrush? That’s what sells, that’s what grabs the majority of the general public’s attention.

colgate toothbrush

Is this how you hold a toothbrush? DO WE REALLY GET THIS EXCITED TO BRUSH OUR TEETH?! No, of course not. But the average consumer is easily swayed by the most basic emotional chords – all one needs to do is strum to the tune of beauty, perfection, and smiles.

Too often people overlook the visual aspect of social media, which is actually a huge part of the experience. Most people report being more engaged by social networking posts that include photos. That’s because they draw attention and can spark interest in a post that otherwise would only have the support of a headline. The more engagement, the better the chance of a conversion, whether that means clicking on a link, signing up for a newsletter or buying a product.

Here are some ideas for types of images you can use to help pump up your conversion rates from social media networks.

1. Use High Resolution, Professional Photos That Seamlessly Scale

You don’t want someone looking at your pictures for all the wrong reasons. An out of focus photo or slightly blurry action shot does nothing to enhance your brand. Instead, they make you look sloppy and too lazy to find a better picture.

A good, high-quality image can have the opposite effect. It can tell a story with only a few words, which should spark enough interest to click on the accompanying link and bring you a conversion. Many companies prefer to take their own pictures, but if you need some help tracking down good images, try free high-quality image sites to help you find the best generic photos.

Be careful when cropping. Cropping means discarding pixels and discarding pixels lowers resolution. Don’t crop to a size. Crop to an aspect ratio. Then define the size by assigning a value for the PPI:

aspect ratio chart

Also be weary of how file formats scale. Whether it’s a .jpeg or a .png or a .jpeg that converts a .png, scaling to fit Facebook and Twitter ratios can easily result in a loss of quality. This why have a RAW version of your photo or image is vital. Additionally, by using a vector based program such as Illustrator, you can seamlessly scale without worrying about loss of quality.

SME facebook post

This also means you’ll need the current specs for the different image options on different social media networks. SproutSocial has a public Google doc they maintain with the most current image sizes, which can be accessed here.

2. Look at Things From a Different Angle

“Pictures should be interesting.” Well isn’t that the most general advice you’ve ever heard? A professional photographer has a different view for what constitutes as interesting. Vantage points, subliminal messaging, and goals are part of an equation that amateurs would otherwise neglect.

Why post a straightforward photo of an orange when you could get one that’s twice as appealing by shooting the photo overhead or off from the far right? People pay attention to things on social media when you hit them with something they aren’t expecting. They tend to scroll right past images that they do expect, and so your task is to make your photo stand out. Things like color psychology and copywriting play a crucial role here. But don’t forget about the toothbrush takeaway – it’s in our human nature to be drawn towards people that are smiling and look like they’re having a great time – even if we’re advertising analytics software. Obviously this is more of a “fail-case” solution if you’re simply out of ideas. Here are some examples of different products being advertised on Facebook – which do  you think is the most effective?


It’s  the Sweeperland advertisement. The Americommerce and Qualaroo ads are way too general; both their headline and their generic images. They don’t grab us or immediately shows us a unique selling point. We really shouldn’t have to read the side-text. Sweeperland is targeted, highlights exactly what we would get, and clearly describes the product in the headline. Since these ads are hyper-targeted, my guess is Sweeperpland would have most ROI.

Additionally, try consulting peers and coworkers before going live with a social media advertising campaign. Email a select group of your peers with how the ad would be displayed and ask if this is something they could click on and if not, what they would change about it.

3. 360-degree spin images convert 27% higher than standard photos

If you want to go really high-tech, add a spin to your imaging. A maternity clothing site, DueMaternity, added this feature to its product images and increased conversion rates by 27 percent. Make sure you use a professional who can instruct you on the proper way to do this, since it’s not an easy trick to pull off.

Along the same vein of emerging ad practices, consider giving people incentives for sharing photos of their own. This has been a wildly popular strategy that really hits home with all demographics of smartphone owners. For example:

Some social media platforms only support your run-of-the mill static ad. In these cases, resorting to essentials such as buzzwords like “new” and high energy colors like purple, orange, and yellow, can be very effective:

taco bell ad

4. Feature Your Products In Comparison Examples

People want to get a good look at what they’re buying. It helps to post very clear pictures of the products you are selling so that potential buyers can get a good idea of what is available. It’s smart to post multiple photos so that people get a better view of what the product looks like all around. If you are selling something where size is important, put an anchor in the photo, say a quarter next to a small object or an apple next to a medium-sized one, so that people can see the true size dimensions.

oscar mayer tweet ad

Comparison examples are a great way to help people immediately spot the difference between your product and your competitors. This has been applied to traditional TV ads for decades and is similar to the before & after model. When you see this image what do you think?

mac v pc

PC vs Mac. It’s been embedded into our brains after having seen it over twenty times.

Comparing yourself to the general “competitor” allows for a visual demonstration of why your product is the best. Plain and simple.

5. Use Pictures of People

Studies have shown that images of human beings can send conversion rates soaring. We’ve already covered this, but it often gets misinterpreted. Specifically, a person making eye contact, that’s both smiling and attractive to many will always capture more eyeballs than two people in business suits expressing joy in something out of focus.

customer ad highrise

Of course, it’s easy if you sell something like clothes. You show someone wearing your clothes as opposed to a mannequin with them on. It becomes more complicated if you’re selling something more abstract, such as data or drug rehabilitation. But try your best to work people into your photos, whether they’re in the background or the focus of the picture. Even better if those people happen to work for you and you can mention their stories.

Even your regular Facebook posts can utilize our natural draw to personal stories and connections to humans. DBK Concepts does a great job of this in their recent Facebook post:

dbk facebook example


This is a great way to shed the “corporate skin” many businesses retain when they post on social media networks. It humanizes them and makes it easy for us to connect on a personal level. Plus this is great for improving brand disposition and awareness!

6. Feature Elements and Words That Are Emerging

It stands to reason that people will be drawn in by images of things they like. This is why kitten videos are so darn popular on YouTube. So when you include photos of things people like with your posts, your engagement rate will soar and so will your conversion rates. Similarly, buzzwords, campaigns, and breakthroughs in technology (for example) can present perfect advertising opportunities. We read an article about quantum computing and then all of a sudden it shows up in our feeds as an ad – but it doesn’t like an ad because we’re genuinely interested in it:

microsoft tweet ad

There have been studies linking images of beer to increased conversion rates, even when the advertiser itself had nothing to do with beer. The lesson is that the beer will draw in people’s attention and make them more likely to click, even if the advertised product is 180 degrees different from an alcoholic beverage.

By getting creative, using the best-quality images, and keeping up with the latest research on what types of images drive engagement, you’ll find your conversion rates climbing with very little effort on your part.

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Jesse Aaron

I'm a blogger, homebrewer, and community manager. Aside from writing, I have a passion for music and design.

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