Social Photos Generate More Engagement: New Research

social media researchDo you want more engagement from your social media fans and followers?

Wondering what kind of content will help you achieve that goal?

New research confirms that photos could be the “holy grail” of social media engagement.

In this article I’ll share what you need to know about maximizing engagement on Facebook and Twitter.

#1: Photos Are Worth a Million Likes

Photos are the primary type of content posted and shared on Facebook. According to March 2014 research published on eMarketer, photos accounted for 75% of content posted by Facebook pages worldwide.

emarketer facebook photo publishing stats

Photos are the main type of content posted by Facebook pages.

From a user’s perspective, photos are also the most engaging type of content on Facebook, with a whopping 87% interaction rate from fans! No other post type received more than a 4% interaction rate.

emarketer facebook photo engagement stats

Photos receive the highest interaction from Facebook users.

Key Takeaway

Posting photos on Facebook is the best way to get more attention from your fans because images are easier to consume than text. However, be aware that not all photos are created equal. Not only must you share high-quality photos, you must also share photos that interest your target audience.

If you haven’t done so already, start to increase the number of high-quality images that you post on your Facebook page. And of course, don’t forget to include relevant links with your images, to ensure that you’re sending all that traffic back to your website. Take note of the following:

  • Only post images that you have created or that you have a right to publish.
  • Mix up different types of images (e.g., banners, infographics, photos, memes, etc.).
  • Take impromptu photos on your smartphone and post them in real time.
  • Post “Caption This” photos – post a funny picture on your page and ask fans to offer their best caption for the photo.
  • Avoid “selfies” unless you’re posing with a celebrity.

One last thing, it may be worth your while to hire a designer or a visual content creator as part of your social media team.

#2: Photos Get More Retweets

People don’t engage equally with every tweet. Research by Media Blog, which analyzed the content of over 2 million tweets sent by thousands of users over the course of a month, shows that adding a photo URL to your tweet can boost retweets by an impressive 35%.

twitter retweet stats

Photos can boost retweets by 35%!

Key Takeaway

Just like Facebook, Twitter engagement can be boosted with photos. Only this time, you’re posting the image URL. If you’ve never posted photos on Twitter before, read this. Otherwise, here are some new tips to get more engagement from your Twitter photos:

  • Tag people in a photo – Tagging other users makes conversation easy and sharing more likely. You can tag up to 10 people (tagging doesn’t affect the 140-character count on a tweet).
  • Share up to four photos in a single tweet – This is a relatively new feature on Twitter, which allows you to upload multiple photos and automatically create a collage using your iPhone, Android device or straight from Twitter.com. For this to work, you need to download the latest Twitter app.

#3: Comments and Shares Outrank Likes

Comments and shares are beginning to overtake likes on Facebook, showing that brands are getting better at engaging with fans.

According to the Social Intelligence Report Q1 2014 by Adobe Digital Index, Facebook comments are up 16% compared to the same time last year, and up 40% compared to the same time last quarter. The report also shows that likes have actually gone down from 82% (Q1, 2013) to 78% (Q1, 2014).

facebook comment stats

Fans are commenting more on Facebook pages.

Key Takeaway

Since comments from fans require more time and effort than simply clicking Like, this trend shows that marketers are becoming rather savvy about fan engagement. Fans must be finding content posted by pages interesting enough to invest time and thought into their interactions.

If you’re seeing more comments on your page, keep up the good work! But don’t stop adapting. Find different ways for fans to see your content, even via paid posts if necessary.

Since Facebook introduced its new comments feature in March 2013, you and your fans are able to reply directly to specific comments on your page. This creates a conversation thread, which ties relevant conversations together.

Be sure to reply to ALL comments from your fans, and to like every comment from every user in two ways – as yourself, and as the page. Not only will the user get a notification about the like, which may spur more comments, but it’ll also create a “Ticker” story about your Facebook page.

#4: Fridays Rule on Facebook

More research published in the Social Intelligence Report indicates that brands are targeting Facebook users on Fridays because that’s the day with the highest engagement rates. For example:

  • 17% of all comments occur on Fridays.
  • 16% of likes occur on Fridays.
  • 16% of shares occur on Fridays.
  • Sunday is the least likely day to receive a comment on a post.
facebook engagement by day stats

“TGIF” seems to be the theme among Facebook users.

Key Takeaway

If you’ve become skeptical about all of the studies and statistics that claim to have found the best day or time to post on Facebook, take heart. It really depends on your target audience and your type of business.

However, the Friday phenomenon is real. Even you know that “the less you want to be at work, the more you’re on Facebook.” These findings are consistent with Facebook data published several years ago, showing that the Happiness Index on Facebook spikes on Friday.

So no matter what your business is, consider scheduling Facebook posts to publish throughout Friday and Saturday. Again, this is not the “ultimate guide” for all brands, but it certainly reflects the reality of how users interact on Facebook on a day-to-day basis. By the way, the same research shows that videos receive the highest engagement rates on Fridays, too.

What do you think? Which of these results did you find most interesting? How will you adapt your social media strategy? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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About the Author, Patricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She is the Social Media Manager at US Pharmacopeia, a public standards setting organization. Follow her on Twitter at @predsicker. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.austinot.com/ Brittany Highland

    Great article, Patricia. Thank you! I have a question about this: “Not only will the user get a notification about the like, which may spur more comments, but it’ll also create a “Ticker” story about your Facebook page.” Are you saying that when the fan comes back to respond to your comment, that creates a Ticker story? Thank you!

  • predsicker

    Hi Brittany. Yes, think of it this way: Anything that you can already see on your Newsfeed is displayed on your Ticker as well, except in real-time. So if you post something on your page and a user interacts with it, you should respond by liking or commenting as YOURSELF (not just as your page) because Ticker stories are generated when friends interact with other friends (subject to your privacy settings).

  • Rob

    Very helpful article Patricia! I enjoy just about every article from Social Media Examiner (SME), but this is going down as one of my most useful articles from SME! Great to get fresh stats on what days produce better engagement. A lot of helpful info!

  • Jonathan Chambers

    Patricia, great stuff! Question on this topic concerning using a social media management software like Hootsuite. I run an environmentally friendly carpet cleaning franchise in south Georgia. We are VERY active on social media. I seem to get more engagement with plain text status updates over photos. Do you think the way Hootsuite and Sprout shrink links and sometimes crop photos may be the cause of that low engagement?

  • http://www.praverb.net/ Praverb

    Images rule! Great article.

  • predsicker

    So glad you enjoyed the article Rob! Thank you for reading :)

  • predsicker

    Hi Jonathan. Great question! It’s hard to say what is causing low engagement in YOUR particular case. I do know that it’s generally good practice to customize content for Facebook, rather than auto-posting it using a third party app. Having said that, here’s a great article about posting images that will drive engagement – http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/shareable-images/. Hope that helps :)

  • predsicker

    Thank you for reading Praverb :0)

  • http://www.thepitbulldad.com/ Walter King

    Thanks for the info Patricia! Facebook seems to be changing algorithms as often as Google! This article is going to help us a bunch!

  • Grace Soria

    Very helpful article Patricia! Well done!

  • http://navneetsau.com/ NavNeet Sau

    Brilliant article Patricia. You have shared social proofs and reports in an excellent way. I have a question about twitter image, while we share an image in a tweet sometimes it doesn’t show up in twitter stream and I think it may be due to exact dimension of the image so do you have any idea about that exact dimension. I have seen most people have concern about it.

  • http://www.tomorrowland.com Jeroen Franssens

    The way I see it – especially on facebook – video generates the most engagement. Facebook pushes direct video (no extern links/youtube vids) uploads enormously.

  • Tanesha Dunn

    Excellent article Patricia.keep it up.

  • Briana

    Do brands typically purchase the images they use for content from stock image sites?

  • White Bull Marketing

    This is an excellent article, some real gold nuggets here. I will be referring back to this again.

  • predsicker

    Thanks so much for reading!

  • predsicker

    Yes definitely. But there’re also a lot of brands using their own original images as well.

  • predsicker

    Thank you for reading Tanesha.

  • http://www.blackbeardesign.com Joel Black

    Great article, thanks for the stats and thoughts. We are all so visual!

  • Natalie

    Great article. I have two questions: 1) are graphics in the same boat, or is the increased engagement specific to photographs? 2) how do you think this concept might apply to a community forum vs. FB and Twitter?

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  • Pads Fans

    Because of the way your photos are posted on this blog, we cant share them.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    You can share the images on Pinterest :)

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