Red apple amongst green applesThere are 3 good reasons why you should be sourcing and creating your own images for inclusion in your Facebook page status updates and your blog posts – not to mention your tweets as well.

1)  Facebook gives much higher priority to status updates with images than to those without.  This means that your posts with images hang around for longer, get noticed more easily and are more likely to attract comments, likes and shares.  This in turn means that your content is more likely to spread virally, attracting new fans to your page.

Sharing is especially valuable on Facebook; if your image is so funny, noticeable, true, appealing or insightful that people just have to share it with their friends, you’ve got a fan-getting goldmine.  Every time your image is shared, the link by the image will go back to your page.

2)  Including an image in your blog post or status update is visually appealing and makes it more likely that your words of wisdom will get read, rather than passed over in favour of something which looks more exciting.

3)  If you use Pinterest to drive traffic to your website (and you definitely should), you can pin your post image to your Blog board.  This pin will automatically link back to your blog, so if anyone on Pinterest clicks on it you’ve got them to where you’d like them to be – reading all about you!  Here’s some more information about how to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog by using images correctly.  Images need to be at least 10 x 100px in order to be pinnable.

So how do I source and create my images?

It’s important not to go and steal other people’s images from Google or their websites.  Apart from being unethical, they will not be unique to you.  Here are some great ways to get the images you want:

  • Use free image stock libraries such as MorgueFile and Photopin.  These are your first port of call, although the selections they offer may not always be suitable for your needs.  But they’re free!
  • Use one of the many low cost, paid for image libraries such as Fotolia, Crestock or iStockphoto.  You only need the smallest size of image, which is usually around £1.
  • Personalise it, and make it much more shareable, by adding some text.  You can use Pixlr to do this for free.  Here’s a great video by Michelle Shaeffer about the process; her website also has other articles about image creation and usage.  Adding text makes your image much more valuable to others, and if you include your web address in small font, it will also travel wherever your image goes (be careful  not to make it look too commercial though). That’s what I did for the image at the top of this blog post!
  • Create a funny image using Someecards, Memegenerator or Roflbot - they’re all free. These are great for Facebook, and highly shareable.

Remember that royalty free is not the same as totally free; royalty free images still need to be purchased and/or credited, according to the terms of the copyright owner.

So there you have it, some easy and free/low cost ways to use images on Facebook and blogging.  All it takes is a little more effort and time – but it’s so worth it.

Do you have any great image sources that you’d like to share?  How has using images made a difference to your engagement levels and reach?  Do share!