No doubt you already use images on social media. But are you selecting the best ones to engage your audience based on research? Here are a few research-based tips that might make you rethink your social media images.
On social platforms visual media performs better than text. Images, for example, earn 2.3 times more engagement on Facebook than text posts according to BuzzSumo research. Social media images should be easily consumed and convey an emotionally impactful and simple message quickly. Here is what the research tells us about what types of images get shared:
Show a body part such as a hand or ankle.
Research by Convince & Convert shows brand images get the most engagement on Facebook when they show a part of a person, typically a hand, interacting with an object. These partial body images performed 29% better than images with a full person and 10% better than images without a person. The suggestion behind the research is consumers are better able to imagine themselves interacting with the product when they see a part of someone else physically interacting with it. Seeing a person’s face takes the viewer out of the picture. Interestingly, though, images without a person or body part received the most comments.
As always, the type of product you’re promoting has a huge part to play in whether this research will work for you. For instance if you sell luxury cars, a picture of a hand on a steering wheel will be unlikely to outperform an image of the car itself.
Go bright, clear, lively, and original.
Research presented at the 2018 International Conference on Information Management found images heavily liked on Facebook tended to display four qualities: brightness, clarity, liveliness, and ingenuity (these four characteristics unsurprisingly also feature in the research on Instagram). From a technical perspective your images should be well lit and easy to interpret. They also should feature something playful and creative.
Stock product images aren’t necessarily going to get the job done, but they’re nearly always better than poorly lit, poorly composed shots taken by someone with zero experience in photography. The good news is that the cameras in modern smartphones are very, very good, and you can buy cheap light boxes nowadays that can dramatically improve your photography. That said, nothing will compensate for a lack of understanding around the basics of photography. A photographer with a lousy camera will always take a better photo than someone with a good camera but zero photographic IQ (see below for example of fuzzy, poorly composed, poorly lit image).
So instead of investing in hardware, perhaps the first, and best, step is to do a photography course. Check out https://www.lynda.com for a wealth of personal and professional improvement tutorials.
Don’t forget to look for visual hints in your Facebook feed too. What you see in your feed is an example of what is getting shared so it provides great hints as to what your network will respond to.
Social media users love visual content. It is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal for expanding your reach and driving conversions. Invest in visual content, but as with all things in business, do it well or don’t do it at all. Paying out marketing money to diminish your brand and make your competitors look superior is not a good investment.