May 29

Tips for free social media photos

Social Media Photo

Image from Pixabay

We’re not all as fortunate to have a T.J. milling about the office to capture beautiful custom photography whenever we need it. And even if you do have an award-winning photojournalist on staff, sometimes you just need to procure a photo to quickly illustrate a social media post.

I am adamant that social media posts should have some sort of graphic element attached to them 99.9 percent of the time. If you think about your own personal media habits, chances are you scroll fairly quickly through your feed. Having an image attached to posts helps catch the eye and – hopefully – encourages the viewer to read and interact with your post.

So what’s a content marketer to do?

Here are a few tricks that I use when I need a photo in a pinch:

  • Google: Too often, people just Google an image and throw it into whatever they are creating. Unfortunately, life is not that simple, and there’s this little thing called copyright. For students working on a project or for a simple internal document, you may be able to get away with pulling an image off of Google. However, if you are using it for a presentation that hundreds may see or another commercial use (i.e. to sell your brand) it’s a big no-no. The good news is Google has a feature to select find photos you can use for free. When you search for an image, select tools > usage rights > labeled for reuse. This way, you can feel more confident in using an image pulled from online. (It’s a good idea to go to the website you are taking the image from just to double check it really is labeled for reuse.)
  • Pixabay: This is one of my favorite resources for free, high-resolution photos. It has a fairly extensive library of stock photography that you can easily search. Some of the site’s images are better than others, but I can usually hit a home run if I’m just in search of a basic photo.
  • Adobe Spark: Spark is Adobe’s answer to Canva, making it simple to design graphics and videos for social media. The basic package is free, or you can upgrade for more customizable options (the premium package is also included with your Creative Cloud subscription). While you can create designs with type and other graphic elements, I often will log in to browse its extensive image library. A simple search pulls from sites like Pixabay and Unsplash (another great free online photo finder), among others, will bring you an assortment of free image options. From there, you simply adjust, download and BAM you have an image already sized for whatever social platform you want.
  • Do it yourself: Not finding what you’re looking for online? Why not take a stab at it yourself? If you have a good quality phone camera, chances are you can probably snatch a decent-looking photo perfect for social media. Taking a minute to set up your frame and ensure you have good lighting will make all the difference in the world. Familiarize yourself with your phone’s photo-editing tools as well as whichever platform you are posting to. I usually start with the auto-edit button and go from there.

What other tools do you use to find free images? Let us know in the comments!

PS: You can check out my post on creating basic videos for social media here.


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