By this point, every brand knows the importance of having a dedicated social media presence, and most brands realize that visuals (including images and videos) are more captivating and more capable of attracting followers than ordinary posts. But you may not realize that different types of photos have very different effects on your community, and choosing the right photos could be the strategy you need to attract and retain a much bigger number of followers.

The Best Types of Photos on Social Media

Here, we’re defining the “best” photos on social media as the ones capable of earning the most likes, the most comments, and the most shares. The effects from these three perks work together to help you attract more followers, earn higher engagement from the ones you have, and build a better reputation online overall.

These are the types of photos that can help you do it:

  1. Color-dominated photos. As a general rule, photos that are dominated by a single color, or group of colors, tend to get more likes than others-especially on Instagram. This is partially because color-dominated photos stand out more in newsfeeds, which are already crowded with competing images. Anything you can do to get immediate attention is valuable.
  2. Personal images. Personal images also tend to perform better than impersonal ones. You can add a degree of personality to your photos instantly and easily by having an actual person, such as yourself or one of your coworkers in it. Otherwise, you can frame the photo to replicate a subjective, personal experience, such as with a POV shot.
  3. Photos in exotic locations. Don’t stick to your home base as an area to take photos. Travel to exotic locations, whether that’s exploring a European city like Rome or going SCUBA diving in Bora Bora. People love to see photos of locations like these as vicarious experiences.
  4. Sneak previews. You can also use photos to give your followers a sneak preview of a new product, or maybe a new event significant to your brand. People love to get early information, and if you keep your subject matter secretive in the photo, it will generate even more interest.
  5. Contest photos. Any photo you use as part of a contest, whether that’s to introduce the contest or to take part in it, is going to attract more attention. Contests are known drivers of shares and likes because people like to win things, so don’t be afraid to take advantage.
  6. User-generated photos. Why rely on yourself and your staff to take all your photos? Consider enlisting the help of some of your followers, with user-generated images. Share some of your favorite followers’ images, and you’re certain to get more attention from them and their followers-you’ll also see a higher likelihood of your brand getting tagged in others’ images, which is a nice bonus.
  7. Anything with practical value. Any image that offers some kind of practical tip or value to your customers is also going to be popular. This could include a photo demonstration or tutorial, or an example of how to do something more efficiently (like organizing a silverware drawer). It could also be a photo with a coupon code or some other information that leads to an immediate practical reward.

How to Come Up With New Ideas

Even with these photo types to inspire you, it’s sometimes hard to come up with new ideas-and the demand for new ideas is constant in the social media world. So if you’re stuck, try these tips to come up with something new and exciting:

  • Follow other popular brands. Take a look at what other people and brands are doing, especially if they’ve cultivated a significant following. Use their posts and tactics as inspiration to create your own approach.
  • Ask the office. Don’t limit your photos to only one person’s mind; ask around the office to generate more diverse ideas. If you’re comfortable with it, you can even give your account credentials to multiple people and ask them to post at will.
  • Do something new. Attend a class, travel to a new city, or simply talk to a stranger you’ve never met before. You’ll be amazed how doing anything new-any break from your routine-can improve your capacity to think creatively.

Building and retaining a large social media following is harder than it seems on the surface, but it’s something you can learn and perfect over time. Take inspiration from the accounts around you, stay committed to using the most attractive photos you can find or create, and stay connected to your audience-eventually, you’ll see the results you need.