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Beyond Book Jackets: What Kinds of Images Resonate with Readers?

Post by Cassi Broach
Posted September 03, 2014 in

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When it comes to the content you're creating for your library, images matter. We're talking about ANY kind of content, really, but especially content for your library's digital channels such as web pages, emails, social media posts and more. If you've ever wondered why your well thought-out posts and articles aren't getting as many views as you'd expect, maybe it's time to take a look at the images that accompany them.

Why Do Images Matter? It's All About the Content, Right?

Wrong. You've got about 15 seconds to capture a reader's attention before they click away, and the best way to capture attention is with an arresting, eye-catching image. Images attract readers because they provide a quick, visual clue to what all that text is trying to say. Catch a reader's attention with an image that resonates, and they're more likely to take the time to read, engage with, and share your content.

And you want your content to be shared, right? Well, the good news is that images are the most shared online content item. Think about your own Facebook feed and how often you've shared a meme, e-card, or other funny image versus a lengthy text post or article.

How Do I Find the Best Images?

When searching for images, you'll want to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is this image of high enough quality?

It's important that your chosen images are of a high enough resolution to be viewed and shared across multiple devices. No one wants to share a blurry picture.

  1. Can I legally use this image?

Be aware of the rights attached to any image you come across. Is your image…

  • Rights managed: These images are usually stock photos purchased from sites like Getty Images or iStock. (Or, if you subscribe to a service like LibraryAware, thousands of high quality Getty images are included for use in all your promotions!)
  • Royalty free: If an image is royalty free, it can be used whenever and however you like, outside of altering or reselling them after purchase.
  • Public domain: An image in the public domain can be used freely without restrictions.
  • Creative Commons: The owners of these images have often given people the right to share, use, or alter them and are free to use. However, make sure your specific image is licensed for your particular use.

Example of creative imagesKnow Your Followers and Get Creative

You're trying to attract library patrons, right? Book jackets are definitely a great source of eye-catching visuals for that audience. But look for other kinds of images, too.

Planning a kids' story time on books about trucks? How about a big fire truck coming in from the side of the page? For that upcoming teen book club, how about grabbing their attention with a big photo of one of their favorite things -- a cell phone? (Bonus points if you add a screen showing a text conversation about the book topic!)

Think about it. The headline and the accompanying image will be the first thing your followers see when you're sharing your blog post about your next teen program. Make it relevant, make it eye-catching, and make it shareable.

Be intentional with the images you choose, and don't be afraid to get a little creative. Play around with cropping your images in unexpected ways or by using an image that doesn't necessarily "fit," but is still relevant to the topic at hand.

Pay attention to what gets shared and what doesn't, and adjust your image strategies accordingly. Soon you'll start to see more engagement from your readers.

Cassi Broach is the Communications Specialist at NoveList.