Why images are crucial for social media

Why images are crucial for social media

Social media is exploding.

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Some fun facts:

  • Web surfers have an attention span of about 8 seconds – less than a Goldfish!
  • 4.75 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook daily.

So how are you going to stand out in all this craziness?

Well, by using Images!

A picture is worth a thousand words

From cavemen to modern day journalists, we have always used images to convey our ideas.

Images are powerful means of communication which cross barriers of language, nationality and culture.

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But how does this translate to social media today?

Let’s talk Facebook

Images are the most popular type of content on Facebook.

Posting images has 3 advantages:

1. Greater Reach:

Facebook gives more weightage to images i.e. If you post an image, Facebook will show it in the news feeds of more fans than if you post a plain text status update.

In Feb 2014, Facebook announced that it would now show even fewer text only status updates to fans, compared to images and links.

We recently conducted an experiment in our Etsy team to see if there was any difference between directly posting a product link from Etsy and uploading an image with the link in the description / comment.

Everyone who participated found that the image reached far more people than the link.

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2. More Visibility:

On average, each time a user logs into Facebook, she is shown 300 stories – talk about information overload!

Remember the last time you went through your own Facebook feed. What caught your eye? What were you the most likely to stop and click on?

Well, probably the images.

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3. Higher Engagement:

People are more likely to engage with (like, comment, share) images than on other types of content.

And the more often people engage with posts by you, the more likely Facebook is to show them future updates by you.

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The proof of the pudding…

Okay, so all this makes sense, but does it actually work? Well see for yourself.

Etsy seller Kimberlie Klare of Vintage Punk Trunk posted the same coupon code twice on her Facebook page – once as plain text, and once as an image.

This is what happened:

The plain text coupon got 1 like.

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The coupon image got  63 likes and 2 shares!

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(NOTE: These screenshots were taken 1 month after the coupon codes were posted for a fair comparison)

We recommend always adding an image to your coupon code for maximum impact. OrangeTwig’s customizable coupon images automatically import your banner and 3 of your product images to create a shareable image for your etsy coupons.

 

What about Twitter?

Twitter recently added expanded images to its stream, allowing images to open within Twitter itself (previously users had to click a link to see images).

 

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Like on Facebook, posts with inline images on Twitter are more visible and get more engagement.

A recent study by Buffer App found that Tweets with images got 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets than tweets without images!

Seems obvious, then, that adding images is the right strategy for Twitter too.

(Note: For an image to appear in-stream, you need to upload the image directly on to Twitter).

Other visual networks

People are busy.

They don’t want to spend time reading.

They want to scan for ideas and move onto the next thing.

And, as Detavio Samuels of marketing business Global Hue, said, “The only thing shorter than a tweet or a post is a picture.”

In 2013, we saw that:

  • Active users of Pinterest increased by 88% from the previous year.
  • Instagram was the fastest growing network with 150 million users and 40 million photos being uploaded each day.
  • Other image-centric social networks like Tumblr, Polyvore and Wanelo became increasingly popular.
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This shows a clear shift towards visual communication across networks.

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So images clearly drive traffic form social media.

But that’s not where it ends.

Google’s hummingbird update  factors social interaction into search results. Brands with higher engagement on social networks are shown higher in search results.

(Note: SEO is a complicated field and this social engagement is only one factor in SEO, but it is a consideration)

So creating engaging content is not just good for your social network engagement, but also for your ability to be found in search.

Conclusion

Social networks are a great way to get free traffic and build your brand.

However, social media does require work. If your content isn’t engaging, it won’t reach many people.

And, as we’ve seen, images increase reach and engagement.

It stands to reason, then, that creating visual content is no longer a choice – it’s a must for a successful business.

Were these tips helpful for you? Do share your thoughts with us.

If you liked this article, please spread the word by sharing it on Facebook and Etsy.