Design 101: Resizing an Image for Social Media Graphics and More

If you are on social media you know that you need images, lots of them, preferably not stock photos.   If you have something that you like, but it doesn’t quite fit into the social platform’s specs, you are going to need to resize it.  On the surface, this is a simple task. The basic “how to” is the same on most programs, though the display options may appear different places. For example, in Photoshop you need to go to “Image” and select “Image Size”. In MS Paint, there’s a dedicated button labelled “Resize”. They both serve the same function but, depending on the complexity of the program, they will have different limitations. When resizing an image for social media, here are a few things to keep in mind:

What is an Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio refers to the ratio between the height and width of an image.  When resizing an image for social media you will want to take into account the different aspect ratios for different platforms.  They are a bit different. There are only two options when you resize an image: You can either maintain the aspect ratio or not. Maintaining the aspect ratio means that when you resize the image, it will keep the same ratio between its height and width. If the aspect ratio is changed, the image may become stretched out as you resize it. This tends to be visually unappealing, though small changes might go unnoticed.

Good Resolution = More Appealing Image

If you’re using very simple image editing programs, this option might not be available. However, if you or someone you know can do this, it’s a neat trick.  Resolution defines the clarity of an image and is often represented by either the DPI (dots per inch) or PPI (pixels per inch). DPI is a term used for printing an image, whereas PPI is used for digital displays of images.

In general, the minimum DPI/PPI accepted as “hi-res” is 300. That means for every square inch of space the image occupies, there are 300 pixels. If you are ever asked to increase the resolution of an image, keep in mind that this will automatically make the image larger. You are adding pixels to the image when increasing the resolution. If you do not increase the size of the image along with the DPI/PPI, it can often cause an image to turn out a bit blurry. What if you want to increase the resolution but not change the size? Allow the image to scale up when the resolution is changed. Afterwards, it can be resized back down to the desired dimensions. This helps preserve the quality of the image.

 Resizing vs. Resampling

Most modern image editing programs are good at preserving quality, so long as you use the proper steps of resizing. Photoshop and the like will have more options when it comes to resampling, rather than resizing, an image. When resizing, you either take away or add pixels and other data related to the details of the image. Resampling is a process that helps fill in for these changes in data.  It ensures the result is as true to the original image as possible.

Unfortunately, if you need to make drastic changes in size, there will inevitably be some loss of quality. Since resizing an image down results in a loss of data, it can lead to a more pixelated or sharp look. Resizing up can end with a more blurry or softer look, since programs will fill in missing pixels.

It’s best to try and get the highest quality original image that you can from the start. If you’re going to need a specific set of dimensions or resolution, do your research ahead of time. This can help avoid the need to resize altogether. Otherwise, the smaller the size changes needed the better, in terms of maintaining quality.

Whether you’re working on your next Instagram post or designing a book cover, hopefully this helped clarify some terms from the complicated world of digital image editing!

How to Find the Right Bookstagrammer for Your Work

Instagram (IG), like all social platforms, evolves with time.  We have talked a lot about the benefits of Instagram for books and authors.  But before you start approaching all of the  “bookstagrammers” who come up in a #search, you need to know how to find the right bookstagrammer for your work.

Find the Right Hashtags for Your Topic

There are a lot of lists if you google the term bookstagrammer. Popular sites have made lists of their favorites by genre, aesthetic, or just personal preference. Often, these lists are more general and limited to around 20 accounts. The best way to find people is to go directly to Instagram itself and dig down a little deeper.

This does require research and time. It is important to go through the process so you find the right bookstagrammer for your work by identifying the hashtags that are popular with a specific genre. For instance, if you wrote a thriller, try searching #thrillernovel or #thrillerbookreview for specific results. From there, you will find more related hashtags and reviewers who are interested in your niche. You might even find certain genres have specific, trendy tags they use so keep an eye out for those!

Evaluating Bookstagrammer Profiles

Once you’ve found a hashtag that seems active and relevant to your book, start visiting user profiles. Take a look at their bios to learn a little more about them and then look at the rest of their posts. Was the book review a one-off thing or do they do lots of them? Do they often review books that seem similar to yours? It is more productive to ask someone for a review when they already have an interest in the genre of your book. People who are avid fans of one genre are always looking for their next read!

Take note of a reviewer’s follower count while you’re on their profile, but don’t let this metric be the end-all, be-all of your search. In the case of bookstagrammers, don’t overlook the micro-influencer. Bigger accounts get DMs (Direct Messages) about book pitches often, so yours might not even make it to their proverbial desk. Getting your book in front of an audience of 30,000 people is great if you can, but several posts made over time by different accounts can also be great exposure. Smaller users that have grown their audience organically may have a more active audience as well.

How to Pitch Bookstagrammers Correctly

If you’re looking for some differences on how to pitch on different platforms, check out our previous blog about pitching! While pitching, keep yourself as organized as possible in a way that works for you. Whether you want to use spreadsheets or an address book, just make sure you have a plan of action and a way to keep track of who you’ve talked to.

We have found that the book community on Instagram is a wonderful, supportive group.  They are super creative and just engaging with them can help you learn about how to use the platform in creative ways.

For more tips, check out our other blogs to find out more about social media and book marketing techniques.

 

Digital Pitching Tactics for Different Media

As a PR and marketing company one of our most important jobs is writing.  Just because we are good writers does not mean we are going to write the next great American novel, because what we do requires a specific skill set.  In fact, some people equate PR writing with journalism.  We have to create the stories and be persuasive to convince media people to pay attention and write or broadcast what we want to get out there. Different platforms require different things so you would never send a lengthy email style pitch to a person on Instagram.   Twitter needs to be even more brief. Pitches can not be over-the-top, nor should they be dry.  Catch a person’s attention in the first sentence with eye-catching, pithy, and ultimately informative material. Like one of my favorite artists, Public Enemy, says, “Don’t Believe the Hype” –we can’t afford to alienate people by leaning too far in any one direction.   So how do digital pitching tactics differ between emails vs. social media?

Is Your Pitch Too Long?

The most glaring difference in digital pitching tactics is the length that your pitches can be. In email, the short & sweet is applied mostly to the subject line. Once someone has deemed your email important enough to open, it’s likely they’ll read it. There’s a lot of room in the body of an email to write at length about whatever it is you’re trying to pitch. This doesn’t mean you should write a novel, but it does allow the opportunity to append things like press releases or longer summaries. If your initial pitch sells the product well, the reader will usually want some more information. Attachments are a great way to do this.

When you start getting into social media, though, length becomes the enemy. Many platforms have character limits for direct messages (DMs) and people don’t want to read walls of text. For book pitches, I usually try to keep the message to a personalized hello, a short summary of the book and any relevant information about the author. It’s always important to end with a call to action like an invitation to work together or an offer for more information. Being concise and clear about what you’re asking for is vital with strict length limits.

Does Structure Matter?

The structure of a DM pitch is a lot looser, especially once you get to chatting with someone! I would suggest keeping it formal at first and, of course, always remain courteous. But don’t be afraid to “like” someone’s responses or use emojis (sparingly). It’s commonplace on social media and can make you seem more personable. People always like knowing there’s someone real behind the product!

Emails tend to be a lot less casual, almost always beginning with a greeting and ending with a signature. It’s good practice to use more formal language throughout the conversation. This might change a little if you exchange emails with someone regularly, but usually with pitches it is a strictly professional relationship and using language to reflect that is a good idea.

Pacing is Important–Don’t Be a Dirge

Some of the informality of DMs comes from pacing. Often, you will see responses a lot faster on social media than you would expect with email. Because it’s less formal and easily accessible through phones, people usually get back to you quickly if they’re interested in your pitch.  Make sure to do your best to reply in a timely manner as well.

As a tip, keep in mind that if you have a lot of people to pitch via DM you can’t always send out hundreds of messages all at once. Some websites have rate limits and might mark you as a spam account if you try to do too much in a short period of time! Try to limit your new messages to about 15 or 20 an hour.

Don’t Do It Unless You Know How

These are just some things to expect if you’re new to using DMs  and social media to pitch to people. The only real way to get a feel for it is to go out and do it!  And remember most of all you are trying to build relationships between you and the media.  It’s a symbiotic association that should benefit both sides.  Don’t risk the trust of a potential contact, know what proper digital pitching tactics are before you reach out.

If you’d like to read more publicity tips, check out some of our other blogs on the topic!

3 Ways To Use Reels To Promote Your Book

Instagram Reels are one of the best ways to grow on the platform. However, they can be very overwhelming for those who are not familiar with creating video content. Today, I will share with you three Reels ideas you can use to promote your book/profile on Instagram. 

Trends on #BookTok

Did you know that you can follow hashtags? If not, I suggest you do that now. And I would start with #BookTok. Bookstagrammers and authors use #BookTok to showcase content around books and writing. 

Often there are fun and easy Reels trends on this hashtag that do not require you to show your face (if you don’t want to) and require minimal editing. 

Check out one Kelsey Darragh did here.

Give a Brief Explanation

In 15-30 seconds, explain something interesting about you or your book.

Some examples include: 

  • Why you wrote your book
  • Your writer’s journey
  • Any short explanation about a unique aspect of your book

General Reels Trends

Another great way to use reels to promote your book is to jump on general trends. Applying trends to your brand takes a little creativity, but it should be something fun and different. 

Here are a couple of fun examples: 

  • Take this trend for answering questions and apply them to your book or writers journey
  • “You can’t look good in every picture you take” trend but book covers

Other Tips for Using Reels to Promote Your Book

Think of Instagram Reels like a business card. The point is to spread the content far and wide, not overloading your viewer with too much information. 

Do not introduce yourself. In the Reels format, you just do not have the time. This also might not hook your viewer. Instead, lead with educational or entertainment value and have an optimized profile to explain who you are to convert viewers to followers.

Include a call to action. A call to action is an essential part of any content you make that has a purpose (and if you don’t have a goal for the content, why are you making it?). 

For Reels, an excellent call to action in the video itself is to follow you or to download some sort of freebie. 

More Resources for Growing on Instagram

Instagram Reels: A Beginner’s Guide

Instagram Insights: A Beginner’s Guide

Expanding Your Organic Reach on Instagram: Video Content

3 Tips for Growing Your Personal Brand on Instagram

 

High Quality Reels: A Beginner’s Guide

The head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, recently announced that Instagram is no longer just a photo-sharing platform. This announcement created some confusion, but is no cause for alarm. Since the release of Reels, Instagram has been leaning further towards short form video. Today, I’m going to talk about how to make a high quality Reel. 

What is a Reel?

A Reel is a short-form video on Instagram that is under one minute. They are designed to entertain and have a strong organic reach. 

Three Steps to Make High Quality Reels

Hook your Audience in the First Three Seconds

Attention spans on social media are extremely low. In order for your Reel (or any social media content) to be successful, you have to stop the scroll. This means catching their attention quickly by quickly stating the problem you are going to solve for the watcher. 

Provide Value in Your Video

Although “value” has become a bit of a buzzword, this just means that you are not creating fluff. Share content that entertains, informs, or inspires so your audience can see the value you have to offer. 

Your hook gets people to your video, but the value provided is what makes them stay and consume more of your content. 

Use a Call to Action in Your Reels

People will not engage with your content in the way you want them to unless you tell them how to do so. If you want people to comment, tell them! All of your Reels should have a CTA to maximize your engagement.

Do I Have to Make Video Content?

You do not have to make video content, but you should. Video content has consistently been shown to be more engaging and effective than other types of content on social media. People enjoy consuming short-form video content which is why TikTok has been such a success. 

Pro-tips for High Quality Reels Content

Create a series around something you are passionate about and knowledgeable in. You do not have to dance or point to make a Reel that performs well, you just need to show up consistently with valuable content. 

If you have any questions about how you can use Reels in your social media strategy, please contact us. 

Other Helpful Posts

Instagram Insights: A Beginner’s Guide

Expanding Your Organic Reach on Instagram: Video Content

3 Social Media Metrics That Do Not Matter

Social Media 101: TikTok and Book Promotion