Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Top Ten Pictures I Never Want to See on Your Social Media Again

Look, I know someone told you to post more pictures on your social media. 

That's fine. That's good advice. Pictures increase your post views, are much more likely to go viral, and, in general, are essential to good social media. But not every picture. The following are pictures I often see in nonprofit social media, and, as a professional communicator and curmudgeon, I would like to not see them anymore. 
  1. A picture of people attending a seminar.
    We all know this picture. People are sitting at desks or a table. Someone is in the front with a whiteboard or a powerpoint presentation. The caption is something like, "Enjoying learning from Presenter at Conference this morning!" It could be anyone. It could be anywhere. You could post the same picture from your last seminar, and no one would even notice. No one cares. This is a boring, boring picture.

    Alternatives: Take a picture of the presenter doing something, even if it's just talking animatedly. Take a picture of a brainstorming list, an energizer, two participants interacting.  
  2. A picture with more than four people in it.
    That's too many people for me to focus on. It's all a blur. Exceptions are allowed for: groups that have accomplished something impressive, like climbing a mountain together, and your annual staff photo.

    Alternatives: Active pictures of smaller groups are more interesting than a crowd standing in front of something. 
  3. A picture from far away.
    Aside from the poor composition, photos taken from far away shrink their subjects. Please remember that many people are looking at social media on their phones. If you started out small to begin with, your photo will end up inscrutable on a smaller screen.

    Alternatives: Get in there. Get closer. Be a little obnoxious, but get a picture you can actually use!
  4. A picture of a table full of people.
    You had an awards dinner. We get it. People attended. That's awesome. A picture of a bunch of people at a table is still boring to look at.

    Alternatives: Capture an interaction, someone laughing, something happening.
  5. A picture that makes no sense.

    If I cannot determine what is happening in a picture, there is probably no reason to share it with me.

    Alternatives: Before posting a picture, ask yourself, "If I didn't know what was going on in this picture, what would I think was happening?" Ideally, ask other people what they think is happening.
  6. A picture of something terrible.

    Animal charities, I'm looking at you. Photos of abused dogs, run-over turtles, or starving children can make an impact, but when they pop up in my newsfeed suddenly, I am just upset. Not in the "Now I shall take action!" way. In the "DAMN IT, ASPCA! WHYYYYYYY?" way.

    Alternatives: Save the disturbing images for your website, link with a less upsetting picture, warn people the images are graphic.  
  7. A picture without a caption.

    Some of us still read. A caption is your opportunity to spell out what the picture is illustrating about your organization, and when you forfeit that opportunity, it breaks my heart.

    Alternatives: Put a caption on it. Explain why this picture matters, however briefly.
  8. A picture of a bulletin board.

    The only thing more boring to look at than people attending a seminar. Exceptions allowed for: displays of children's art work.

    Alternatives: Create a slideshow of the information on the bulletin board.
  9. A picture of random people and those "get your picture taken" banners.

    The reason to have a branded backdrop for pictures at your event is so that the people who had their picture taken will share it on their social media. There, it will be seen by their friends and associates, who presumably are interested in pictures of their faces. Your general followers are not terribly interested in the faces of strangers in front of a backdrop, ergo, do not post these. If you simply must, be extremely conservative. People are especially uninterested in a barrage of strangers all standing in front of the same backdrop.

    Alternatives: Let people share these images themselves, and tag you. Leave it at that.
  10. Blurry, out of focus, dark, poorly composed pictures.

    Maybe this should have been number one. Before posting any picture, you must first determine that it's a good picture. Is everything in it identifiable? Is it over- or underexposed? Is anyone making an unfortunate face? Is the angle weird? Is it balanced and pleasant to look at?

    Alternatives: Don't post bad pictures. Don't do it. Don't. 

Why These Pictures Don't Work

You've probably spotted a trend in these pictures I hate: They don't appeal to the audience. They are, at best, boring, and at worst, alienating. Boring and alienating people is exactly what you don't want your social media to do. 

Replacing these images with active, interesting, and well-composed photos will make your social media more appealing to your audience, making your organization a pleasure to follow.