10 Best Practices for Eye-Catching Social Media Images

What stops someone’s social media scroll? While post captions are fantastic places to grab someone’s attention, the power of captivating visuals can’t be overstated. And with thousands of social media images coming at you each day, you probably already know what turns your head and what you skip right by.

But, whether you’re selling a product, offering a service, or you’re building your own personal brand, you need to know how to get the right kind of reaction from your audience when it comes to your social media posts.

So, today we’re going to share ten of our best practices for creating those scroll-stopping moments with your visuals.

10 Best Practices for Eye-Catching Social Media Images

social media images

#1: Use The Right Tools

The first step in creating an amazing visual is to get acquainted with the tools that help you make an impact.

For example, if you want to use a photo aside from something you (or your photographer) captured, you’ll want to visit sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels because they offer extensive free stock photo image libraries.

free stock photo

Visme is a cloud-based content creating platform that can help you design everything from videos to infographics with ease.

If you want to create customized Instagram stories you might also check out Mojo where you can keep things on-brand with templated, animated options you can fill with your own visuals.

instagram stories

And Canva is a fantastic tool for editing an image and you can use it to do everything from adding a frame or template shape to popping some text on an image or even adding a bit of animation.

While these aren’t the only potential tools you can use, they do offer a great place to start and as you learn which tools you love, you’ll begin to take your visual game to the next level.

#2 Size Your Images For The Platform You Post On

One of the potentially frustrating things about creating visuals is getting the sizing right.

Too big and you might lose some content. Too small and you end up with a border of black or gray around an image on certain platforms. And either way, your visuals look less professional if they’re not sized correctly.

Luckily our guide to social media image sizes can help you create properly-sized visuals with confidence.

#3: Make Sure You Have Permission To Use Other People’s Social Media Images

Whether it’s an image you found or something user-generated, you’ll want to be sure that you’re respecting ownership and use rights on the images you post. Sites like Unsplash and Pexels offer royalty-free images you can use in many different ways without violating any copyright laws. However, the best practice is to ask permission before using anything that isn’t a royalty-free image.

So, if a follower tags your company in an image, make sure you check in with them before reposting it. This is a great way to connect with a potential customer and a really respectful first impression for you and your company to leave them with.

#4: Consider Representation In Your Visuals

Here’s a vital question for you: Do your visuals reflect and represent the people in your audience?

If you’re wondering how to grow your inclusive and representative visual library for future posts, check out Refinery 29 and Gett Images’ The 67% Collection for body positive visuals, Dove’s #ShowUS library for a multifaceted and inclusive image library, or Vice’s Gender Spectrum Collection for visuals that include non-binary people.

showus example

Using resources like this allows your followers, customers, and clients to see themselves more fully reflected in your brand and that’s a great feeling.

#5: Get To Know Your Basic Design Rules

While not everyone who posts on social media has a graphic design degree under their belt, some go-to design concepts can help make any visual pop.


Aside from selecting images in your particular brand colors, you can choose to create feelings or show your personality through the hues that you use in your images. Some colors are calming, others inviting, and some can leave viewers feeling cheerful or energized. Selecting your image’s colors purposefully can help you drive home a particular point or share certain emotions with your viewers.

The original uploader was Sakurambo at English Wikipedia. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]


There are many different ways to create balance, whether it’s through objects, white space, various textures, or the amount of light on a particular area of the image. When you consider the balance of a visual feel free to play a bit with elements that have symmetrical and asymmetrical balance.

Simply put: Creatively juxtaposing large and small objects or light and dark spaces can make your images more intriguing for viewers.


This design concept involves creating emphasis on the most important part of an image first and then allowing other elements to come through. One of the easiest places to see this design concept in action is in visuals with text.

Naturally, the largest words will catch viewers first, and then they will naturally tend to the next smallest set of text, and the next smallest, and so forth.

Your use of hierarchy allows you to draw the reader’s attention to the key text first and then gives them a pathway beyond that.

social media graphic heirarchy

#6: Use Words In Social Media Images

Speaking of words, don’t be afraid to infuse your images with some text. Using the hierarchy concept from the last tip, and a tool like Canva, you can create images that make a statement.

The key here is not to overwhelm the image with text and to be sure that your caption aligns with the visual’s content as well.

Another fun thing to consider when adding words to your visuals is how to turn that post into something share-worthy. (Because having your encouraging, inspiring, funny, or heartfelt message spread like wildfire is pretty fantastic!)

#7: Keep Things Consistent

Whether you decide to go with warm tones and a script-style font, or something bold and cool-toned, keeping things visually consistent also keeps them visually appealing.

You’ll find that your Instagram feed and any other post collecting platform will look even more attractive when you keep your visuals consistent and your followers will come to really know your content when they see it. Demio is a great example of using consistent colors on their Instagram feed.

demio social media images example

#8: Consider Branding Your Visual Content

Some companies and personal brands like to add small watermarks, logos, or other branding elements to their posts and you can do the same with your social media images.

Canva makes it easy to import your logo for easy access when you create images.

While choosing to brand your visual content is a personal decision it can be especially important if you find that your content gets shared and reshared quite often.

#9: Vary Your Visual Content

You don’t want to be a one-note kind of brand. So, just as you vary the copy and content in each of your social media posts, it’s important to try out different graphic elements, design approaches, image types, video types, and even memes as you create eye-catching visuals like Paperbell does.

paperbell social media images example

Keeping things visually interesting is one of the most powerful ways to stop people as they’re scrolling through.

#10 Use Feedback To Decide What Visuals To Post

Wondering if your visuals are really catching on?

Check out your Instagram insights or other platform data to see how different types of visual posts are doing.

paperbell social media images example

When you’re varying the types of social media images you create you can begin to see patterns in how those individual types of posts do. And this insight can help you make content creation choices that align with your social media and business goals.

And if you need help with your visual content, you can try Edgar for free for 7 days and see how simple it can be to manage your social media posts.

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