How to engage your Twitter audience using free imagery

Tweeting a picture eats up 24 of the available 140 characters, but seeing as a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s not too much to sacrifice. In a world where 65 per cent of people are visual learners, using imagery in your tweets can attract and keep an audience’s attention, as well as setting you apart from the competition.

For the most part, Twitter is a sea of words, and while words are very important, the right imagery can elevate your presence and make you more appealing to follow. Tweets with pictures perform better; achieving 18 per cent more clicks, 89 per cent more favourites and 150 per cent more retweets.

With those figures in mind, you can’t afford not to get visual. We recently grew our monthly Twitter impressions by a massive 500 per cent, and using the right pics played a big part in extending our reach.

Start as you mean to go on

Let me iron out a bug bear straight away. Before you even think about tweeting pretty pictures, you need to make sure that your profile is up to scratch.

Nothing turns a potential follower off like a pixelated cover image or poorly-framed profile pic. These images make the first big impression when people visit your page, so if they look unprofessional and lazy, you’ll immediately turn people away.

According to Twitter, the optimal dimensions for your cover image are 1500x500 pixels and for your profile picture 400x400 pixels. And whether you’re choosing to use a photo, illustration or logo, make sure all imagery is consistent with your brand.

How not to break the bank

To make an impact, you need images that are of a high quality and, unfortunately, the bulk of stock photography comes with a hefty price tag. This leaves many people either running for the hills or entering the copyright gauntlet that is borrowing from Google Images.

However, you don’t need to spend a small fortune acquiring images or go grey from worrying about potential lawsuits – there are plenty of copyright-free images in the public domain that don’t require attribution and can be used for both commercial and personal purposes.

That being said, it’s worth noting that many of the sites listed below give you the option of donating the price of a cup of coffee when you download an image, though this is not obligatory by any means.

You might be wondering why it‘s important to source copyright-free images for use on Twitter. One of the main reasons, aside from being legally-sound, is that there simply isn’t enough room in a tweet to provide the lengthy attributions required to credit the original photographer.

Below are six copyright free sites with magazine-standard quality stock images:

1. Pixabay - A great mix of corporate images, landscapes, animals and illustrations (and coffee).

2. Unsplash - Every 10 days, 10 new images are uploaded to the site, ranging from the abstract to everyday objects, people and landscapes.

3. Splitshire - An excellent library of art and magazine-style images.

4. Gratisography - Arty, comedic photos that are perfect for making a statement.

5. Designer Pics - Corporate in tone, you’ll find plenty of business images.

6. Life of Pix - Beautiful objects, abstracts and textures.

Additional tools

Free tools like Canva and Pablo can also be used to create bespoke images, such as infographics, memes, brochures, letterheads, posters and a plethora of other documents and merchandise.

Use them to add text to your images, ensuring they really stand out in a tweet. This is also a great way of extending your communications – standard tweets may be limited to 140 characters (116 when an image is included), but you can write whatever you want over the top of an arty photo.

By including quality images in our tweets, we boosted our engagement by a massive 80,000 monthly impressions. Read our full case study on boosting Twitter engagement and follow @e3_media to see the work in action.