One of the basics of social media engagement is that visual posts see more activity than text-only posts. In fact, according this report from Adobe, people engage with visual posts 650% more than text posts.
Below, I outline everything you need to know to make eye catching Facebook posts using preview images.
WHEN FACEBOOK AUTO-POPULATES YOUR POST WITH IMAGES
If photos are available, Facebook will grab images from the linked page and automatically create a preview from them.
Sometimes the images that Facebook pulls would be better off rearranged, replaced or added to. You might want to change the images so your post looks more on-brand, relevant, or aesthetically pleasing.
When multiple preview images are available, you can improve the aesthetics of many posts by simply unchecking unprofessional pics or cheesy stock photos, or rearranging them so the prettier photos come first (though I personally like uploading custom images).
The above image shows how Facebook auto-populated my last blog post. Here, I can deselect certain images or rearrange them by dragging. If I click the plus sign on the bottom right, I can upload my own photo.
The first automatically selected image is kind of ugly and not on-brand. It's my "what not to do" example from my previous post. Plus, it's weirdly meta, since it's a picture of an entire Facebook post that I'd be posting to Facebook. I also feel like this photo gives the viewer a big hint as to what my entry is about, and I don't necessarily want that.
The second preview photo doesn't give away what my entry is about, and the main portion of the image is from my Instagram feed, which is on-brand in color and style. I might consider keeping this one, maybe just repositioning it to be first.
A weird thing I ran into when writing this post is that Facebook won't let you deselect all of the auto-populated images to replace them with just one of your own (it automatically re-selects one of images from the linked page). But it will let you deselect all the auto-grabbed images and replace them with 2 or more of your own. In other words, if you don't like any of the automatically pulled images, you should have at least two custom ones to replace them. I don't know why this is! You can even upload the same custom image twice as a way around this.
The following is what I settled on when I shared my last blog post. I created a custom photo to show first and left one of the auto-populated images intact.
WHEN THERE ARE NO PHOTOS TO GRAB
There will be cases where Facebook can't auto-populate your post with images, like the below example where I'm linking to a Google search. Since visual posts are more engaging, you should upload a preview image of your own in these instances.
An important point to make here is that square images are best when there are multiple preview photos. But when you use only one preview photo, Facebook makes a rectangle out of the horizontal middle third. When I'm making custom previews for Facebook, I usually create a square image, but keep the important text in the middle. This way, it will look good in both layout styles, granting me some flexibility.
In the below image, I used the same custom photo as above, but only the middle third shows.
Your Facebook feed is a reflection of you and your brand. With just a tiny bit of effort, you can make it look slick and professional. And remember, you don't have to include http text when sharing links!
I'm surprised by the number of corporate (and personal) Facebook pages where I see this one supersimple mistake: link text left in posts!
You might not know that Facebook allows you to post links to articles and other content without displaying the http address in your post. Once you copy and paste the link into the post you're writing, you can backspace/delete the link text, leaving the preview text and images intact.
Link text is not aesthetically pleasing and can interrupt the flow of your post. And now that most people know it's not necessary, it can make you look unprofessional or unsavvy. Get rid of it!
Copy and paste your link.
Now delete it!
Body of the post remains intact without the link text.
As always, remember that posts with images are more engaging than those without. If Facebook doesn't immediately populate your post with preview images, you can upload your own (which I will cover in another blog entry).
Aspiring Dog Parent