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Thinking About Images, Social Media, and Native Marketing.

What is native advertising and why your artwork and photography may be more useful, in ways you may not have realised.

Don’t forget to have your say below. Photography or Illustration, how and why do you decide on one over the other?

Social Media Image Marketing Using Facebook and Instagram

Have you ever noticed that content composed mostly of images; illustration or photography, and, especially on social media platforms often attract higher levels of user interaction compared to text based posts? 

– Nah, you don’t say.

Whilst this may seem more like an obvious statement, rather than a question. If you are someone that has engaged with social media advertising, and namely Facebook Advertising. Then the chances are, you too may have experienced some of the most unexpected and sometimes inexplicable results. 

Fortunately, you’ve probably also experienced that things are not always as straightforward as they seem. And in turn, you’ve been exposed to ways in which you can use social media platforms to your advantage. If not, hold tight, because you might save yourself from the trial and error aspect of advertising.

After reading this post, hopefully you’ll gain a better idea of just some of the nuance and requirements involved with preparing images for Facebook advertising and how you can make your ad performance vary from one extreme to another.

If however,  you are simply looking for the full technical details specifications for preparing images for Facebook and Instagram Advertising, you should go here or here

In the meanwhile, please read on

Simple Facebook Image Advertising Insights

The Ingredients…

Now, although, to some degree, how your social media posts appears are somewhat determined by the social media platform you are using and the type of ads your are running. All the same, there are certain ingredients that tend to work consistently across both Facebook and Instagram. 

First of all, images with no text at all, tend to perform best!


Because, as emotional humans we tend to be more responsive towards all-image posts rather than text or even, images with text.

You see, images evoke emotions and are easier to apply to different formats. Plus, they simply look better on a page.

Which is one reason why Facebook processes images for advertising, by accommodating for the varying formats that a given image may be displayed.

So, for example, you may need to create copies of an image at different sizes without cropping out any important parts.  Another reason, for perhaps avoiding image text when possible.

How valuable are your images really?

Standardise your WordPress Featured images for social media

Whilst Facebook does have a number of different types of advertising formats including some specifically tailored for a mobile experience. Fortunately, there are certain things you can do in order to reduce the number of different image sizes you’ll need. 

So, for example if you have a WordPress blog you may find that a Featured image measuring 1200 x 900 pix will display perfectly as a regular Facebook post as well as LinkedIn or Twitter posts. 

For consistency, why not make this the standard size for all your WordPress Featured Images. So that when you share the URL of any of your posts, the corresponding Featured image is automatically generated within the published post.

However, where it comes to Instagram’s square format, although you may also get away with using the 1200 x 900 pix image. Due to the image cropping that will occur, it is perhaps best to you use the recommended 1080 x 1080 pixels.

Facebook posts insights

The following demonstrates the use of photography and Illustration being used for social media posts and how they may be interpreted by an audience.  

Note on vanity metrics

Whilst the value in receiving “approval scores” or rather “Likes” may be a superficial measure of how well a business is really doing. At least in terms of meeting its business objectives. Approval scores can, and often do work well as a signal for audiences making decisions on trust or quality. 

However, for most part, vanity metrics do not help so much with providing data you can apply action to. Besides other factors, it all really depends on whether your audience targeting and presentation is up to scratch. Which is why testing  your ads before going full- throttle can be so important, yet often discouraging.

What has the image of the car to do with anything?

Whilst, your audience targeting will help narrow relevancy and who sees your ad. It can be argued that Facebook advertising messages can sometimes be ambiguous. However, balanced with a ‘description’, you can steer readers in the right direction. 

The first ad above, for example, can easily be misread for promoting a car. However, providing the right audience is reached, the hope is that familiarity with the terms; Open Source, Genesis or Framework will peak intrigue to those knowledgeable of WordPress web design.  A further clue to what is being promoted has been auto-generated by the URL the post links to. 

In order to find out about the relationship with the car, the reader is hopefully intrigued enough to click the Learn more button or the image to access the related page.

In my opinion, this ad will communicate mostly with a narrow, but specialised audience seeking professional web solutions.

What does this image say to you?

The previous ad required the support of text in order to communicate the idea.

Meanwhile, there are some images that simply have that appearance you might associate with having a promotional feel, but can also tell a story…

You see, when you think about it, the promotional material you see every day in your social media feed. Although, may appear as being a simple photo, illustration or drawing, the underlying purpose of the post is often, to generate traction that leads towards a specific, or a number of objectives. Even if it’s just a “Like” (approval score).

It is a starting point, or introduction towards some form of engagement, generating revenue, or simply provoking the “want” for more information.


Instagram posts tip


If you do not have many Instagram followers, using hashtags actually helps your posts to be found by more people. 

Of course, to get a true taste of engagement though, try spending just $10 on an ad with placement settings for Instagram activated.


Before advertising, the above image only reached a few people and therefore the engagement was low. However, after running an ad the number of “Likes” increased

To start advertising on Facebook ensure that your Instagram account is also connected to your Facebook business page or ad account.
You can do this from your Facebook business page, under Settings > Instagram.


Connect your Instagram account.

Facebook Business Page; Settings

Native Marketing & Images

Formally defined, Native Advertising is described as a means of paid advertising that emulates the function, look and feel of a given interface. In other words, essentially “Native ads” do not necessarily look like ads.

Recognising the human appeal that images have, is why, at least so it seems, social media advertising providers such as Facebook, encourage the use of photography and illustrative artwork for ads, preferably without any text. On Facebook for example, Ads with a high amount of image text are apparently penalised in auctions and receive lower reach than other competing ads that do comply. Of course there may be exceptions made for books and similar images. But this may also require that you submit a request for a review.

Now, I’m not sure just how prevalent general public knowledge, or even the conscious practice of “Native Advertising” actually is. It’s not a term I hear much these days, so I get the feeling in most cases, it is an approach that most people naturally adopt.

Anyway, Native Advertising in very simple terms is when a published piece of content does not appear overtly promotional. And is consumed just like any other content found on a specific website. 

As you know, the internet changes fast, so keeping up with marketing concepts and practices can be difficult. However,  there are 3 main ways in which you can incorporate your advertising message into a native advertising campaign and run your own ads on Facebook and Instagram, as well as Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. 

The 3 main methods are as follows:


Sponsored Content

Sponsored content allows you to get a little creative by blending your sponsored ad with an existing website. This provides a smoother, un-interrupted user experience and can be executed not just in the form of blogs and articles, but also videos, listicles, and general social media posts. All in all, sponsored content are most successful when they appear as natural as possible to the audience.

Recommended Content

Submitting you content to leading trusted websites and content discovery networks is another fairly popular method of making use of Native Advertising. Having you content recommended on such sources will inevitably require your content to provide some kind of value, or usefulness.

Typically these kind of publishing networks generate revenue through offering campaigns that run on a Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising model. Where ads are embedded directly onto a website’s page or content, without disturbing the look and feel of the page.

Social Ads

By far this method is the easiest and most popular for most of us. I don’t think you’ll need an explanation for what Social Ads are. As you probably come across native advertising in practice every time you access one of your social media accounts.

Social ads appear both in your feed or specific areas on a page. Starting from absolute scratch may require that you have a website to send your audience and if you work with a team, a great way to collaborate and produce content for distribution to multiple social media channels at a time is through using a platform like StoryChief.

However, if you prefer something more for showcasing your artwork and photography, take a look at Format. A website building platform created especially for creators of ‘art’ and content.


Related: Read Jon Loomer’s update on Facebook’s image text rules.

Photographer’s Growth Kit

Products mentioned and related to this post:

Banner Ad and Content Creation Specifications