We all know that every social network, even the less traditionally visual ones, are powered by big, dynamic images. Many people and brands are responding to that message with posts, pins, and shares regularly featuring photos to attract and keep the eye. That kind of undertaking turns us all into curators. We have to learn about what to look for and what works best on social channels.

Before diving too deep into the social waters and obsessing over what images work better on Pinterest versus, say, Instagram, let’s step back and consider what types of pictures work best overall. No matter the channel you’re posting to, there are some givens at play based on color psychology and people’s prove preferences. Curalate released a study that shows how Pinterest users favor certain types of pictures ahead of others. Applying these methods to your brand platforms should help increase engagement, shares, and followers.

Finding: Red beats blue.

What you can learn: We feel different things when we look at different colors, and red is closely attached to activity and urgency. Blue can be beautiful, but it lacks the fierceness that red images possess. Social media is a hobby for many people in much the way blogs were a few years ago. If you want people to take pride in your shares and your company, it would be best to tap into their passion. Red pictures encourage them to act, which helps your bottom line.

Finding: Dominant colors wash out singular ones.

What you can learn: Search for and locate images that have a blast of colors that really pop. Think about a bouquet of flowers and how the different colors and shapes complement one another. Those are the kinds of photos you need. As people quickly scroll through their feeds, make sure that your images lead them to stop and look. Single-colored images can blend into the background of the feeds and don’t command that same attraction.

Finding: Light images shine ahead of dark ones.

What you can learn: A majority of what people like and share on social channels will delight, entertain, enthrall, and amaze them. There’s a sense of purpose and positivity you should be tapping into. People who prefer darker images might find what they’re looking for, but they surely won’t dispatch them to the world. It’s not part of the dark personality and attitude to spread the wealth. Stick with the upbeat followers you have and you’ll go far.

Finding: Images without people perform better.

What you can learn: This can be a tricky one for brands that want to show people using the product. When you bring a person’s face into view, the picture becomes about that person, much the way we gawk at our friends’ Facebook albums. It’s the great landscape, or the interesting closeup of the agriculture that drives us to spend more than a passing moment with the image. Zoom in on an object to call attention to it. Your ad campaigns will sell the satisfaction people get from using the item or the service. Social media should approach it differently, giving your product a majestic quality that people wouldn’t see otherwise. That’s when it becomes something they’ll love and share.

Guest post:

Danny Groner is the manager of blogger partnerships and outreach for Shutterstock. He encourages everyone to consider how they achieve visual storytelling in the age of desktop editing and publishing. Follow him on Twitter @DannyGroner