Video is all the rage on Facebook, but it still can’t surpass images in terms of sheer market share and engagement. According to Social Bakers, images still receive the lion’s share of engagement, particularly amongst the largest pages with over a million fans. Video is, of course, swiftly catching up.
The power of images, though, is never going to go away. Even if video expands and becomes more engaging, it’s still more costly and more time consuming to produce. A talented graphic designer can create a great image in no time flat, while even the shortest video takes a while to script and produce. Unless you’re just going for the Vine, but that’s not designed for Facebook.
What kinds of images work best on Facebook? It’s hard to say. There are so many types of images, and so much variance within each type, that it’s difficult to scientifically study. That said, you can’t go wrong with these images, generally. Always be mindful of your brand, however, and try to pick image styles that fit with the atmosphere you’re trying to create.
1. Quotes on Images
President Obama has been very good at using this type of image on Facebook – or at least, whoever has creative control over his social media page has been. A compelling image with a quote laid over it makes for a great source of comments and other engagement. You also see this style of image frequently on pages making motivational or inspirational pictures, overlaying positive quotes on cheerful landscapes or collages.
2. Expansive Vistas
You see this style fairly often on brands that have a global reach; they post pictures of people in action, or extreme landscapes. The idea here is to appeal to the side of people that wants adventure. There’s always something your users have “always wanted to try,” whether it’s skydiving or surfing or just visiting a unique location. Posting pictures of your product in those locations can be a great way to draw engagement. Now, I’m not saying you should make a CD of your software go skydiving, but hey, wouldn’t that be a neat viral campaign?
3. Adorable Animals
I don’t think I need to tell you how effective pictures of adorable animals can be. After all, the Internet is almost literally supported by an underground economy of black market cat pictures, puppy videos and other adorable animal currencies.
Okay, so that’s not literally true, but the fact remains that everyone loves an adorable animal. Young animals are particularly cute, and thus do very well. If you have more exotic followers, you can post pictures of photogenic lizards and birds as well.
4. Pop Culture References
Oreo’s Facebook page is incredibly good at the pop culture and current events posting. Just scroll through their photos page and you’ll see a bunch of product shots, but they’re all innovatively taking advantage of current events. There are football-themed pictures for the recent Superbowl, there are holiday themed images, there are creative uses of Oreos in recipes, and the list goes on.
Infographics are a compelling visual way of sharing data. A well-designed infographic can go viral very quickly, across all different social media outlets and blogs. The power of an infographic comes from the depth of information and analysis present, and the interesting visuals that accompany it. Rarely do you see an infographic with nothing more than pie charts and stats; you see cartoon references and board game layouts, graphics that tell a narrative with their information.
6. Seasonal Imagery
Holidays are ripe for the picking when it comes to Facebook imagery. Right now, we’re just getting over Valentine’s day, so you have both the romantic and the singles-apologist imagery circulating. President’s day has some circulation among certain brands. Coming soon, you have Chinese New Year, you have St. Patrick’s day, you have the equinox; all valid holidays to use in imagery.
7. Political Issues
Political issues and current events can be very potent sources of engagement, but you have to be very careful using them in your marketing. The power of the political image comes from it being divisive, unless it’s the kind of social issue that has an unquestioned backing, which is rare. However, if you try to abuse a divisive issue and pick the wrong side compared to your audience, you’ll see more backlash than you will benefit.
8. Product Shots
Go back to Oreo and you see the vast majority of their images are shots including their product used in innovative ways. Starbucks does this as well. Food brands have it easy; their products are photogenic, and they can be adapted to a wide range of situations and scenarios. A software company has it harder, unfortunately, but that’s just the nature of the game.
9. Action Shots
Skullcandy is a good brand to look at for this one. They’re a manufacturer of high performance headphones, but they appeal primarily to a certain type of active culture of young people. If you look at their photos, many of them are sports action shots, with sports like surfing and snowboarding featured heavily. This resonates with their target audience, and thus works for their goals.
10. High Quality Art
Sometimes, your readers just want a little feast for the eyes. High quality art might not be ideal for presenting your message, but it’s great for feeding the imagination. In particular, brands that represent artists or museums can benefit from these kinds of images.
11. Sheer Insanity
Never underestimate the power of going completely off the wall. Old Spice has a great social media presence, but if you were to describe the pictures they share without context, you’d be liable to be thrown in a mental institution. The same goes for Denny’s, though their insanity is more limited to Tumblr than to Facebook. If your brand can go bonkers and own it, it can be an amazing move. Just don’t try it and then back off; it’s an all-or-nothing affair.