Sarah Maloy is Shutterstock’s social media manager. This post was originally published on the Shutterstock blog and has been adapted with permission.

Images have never been more important in the world of social media, and even more so when talking about social advertising. When you’re investing in social media advertising and looking for a return on that investment, it’s vital to use the best images to engage your audience.

We’ve put together a list of 10 tips to help you select images and target your audience to create awesome social media ads.

1. Choose a simple, bold image

With the different ad sizes available on Facebook, and with users accessing the platform on both web and mobile, it’s important to select images that will resonate, even at a small size. This means choosing simple images, with bright or bold colors. It’s also good to focus on one subject, rather than choosing an image that has too much going on.

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2. Use abstract words when looking for images

Whether you have a specific image in mind or not, you can often use broad keywords to help enhance your image search. When you click “Find Images” in Facebook’s ad create tool, you’ll have access to Shutterstock’s library of over 30 million images.

By using broad, abstract keywords like “love,” “excitement,” or “strength,” you can find new images that convey emotion and relate to your message without being too literal.

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3. Try something aspirational

When selecting images for social media, you want to convey a positive, aspirational message so users see how wonderful the world can be with your product or service.

This is best conveyed through the image you choose, so make sure to use something beautiful that taps into your audience’s core aspirations.

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4. Select images that work across formats

It’s important to select images that have a lot of flexibility with size and layout, since Facebook ads display in different formats on various platforms. This means that the most important elements should be focused toward the center of the image — otherwise they might be cropped out in some views.

5. Refresh your creative often

Like a smell or a taste that is striking at first but fades after your initial impression, people can become desensitized to an image when seen over and over.

Choose new images to keep your ads fresh. You want your target audience to continue to notice you in their News Feeds, so changing the look of your campaigns helps you stand out — and ensures that your audience doesn’t get tired of seeing your ads.

This also gives you the opportunity to test out different images to find the creative style that works best for your audience.

6. Choose consistent, campaignable images

When selecting an image for a Facebook Ad, don’t think about creating just one ad; think about creating multiple ads as part of a set, or campaign. As you swap out the images in your campaign, there should be a consistent look and feel to the images that ties them together.

his doesn’t mean you always need to use the same objects in your images, but instead put consideration into the lighting, color scheme, and mood of the photos you select so they can be interchanged across the same ad campaign. By choosing a “campaignable” set of images, you can be sure they’ll evoke a consistent message throughout, whether it’s over weeks or months.

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7. Use images that reflect your brand personality

Every brand should have a personality. Some companies are comedic, some are serious, and others are ultra-personable. Make sure you know what your brand personality is, then use images that convey those characteristics to your audience.

For example, if your brand is artistic, you could opt for a black and white, dramatically-lit portrait.

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But if you’re a family-friendly brand, you could choose cute, comforting images like these.

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Or, if your brand is humorous, you could add fun into your Facebook ads with these quirky images.

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8. Customize imagery for your target audience

Not every image or line of copy will resonate with every customer. That’s why targeting is so important, and why you should always use it when investing in a campaign. If your audience is spread throughout different industries and across the globe, it may not make sense to try to reach everyone with the same message and image. Put thought into using localized or interest-specific images, then target a specific group of people.

For example, if you know that your product or service tends to be interesting to customers who like music, target your ad based on that interest and select an image of a live concert, a guitar player, or a girl listening to headphones.

Facebook photo tips 39. Tell a cohesive story

Don’t select images for your campaign just because they look good. Instead, choose images that work well with your copy and complement your link or call to action. All the pieces should fit together to tell the right story about your brand, product, or post.

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10. Test, test, and keep testing

Just because an ad looks good to you or your team, it doesn’t always mean it will connect with your audience. That’s why it’s important to continually test by changing your text, images, and calls-to-action. Then you can review your results and use data from Facebook Insights along the way.

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