Power of a Picture: Increasing Social Media Engagement with Photos

A recent HubSpot study found that Facebook posts with photos received 104 percent more comments than posts with simply text or links. Adding visuals to your social media posts may not be as hard as you think.

Technically, social media marketing is cheap, easy, and fast.

The need for publishers to get to the point quicker than ever came about as humans became more pressed for time and content became more infinite.

You can easily create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., and simply start posting things. But to see real results and real engagement, social media, like almost anything else, requires a strategy.

One of the latest trends in social media marketing is the importance of visuals. A recent study by HubSpot, in which the marketing software company analyzed 8,800 Facebook posts from B2B and B2C companies, found that Facebook posts with a photo generated 104 percent more comments than a post with just links or text. Photo posts also generated 53 percent more likes than the average post.

Visuals have the power to grab your attention and get to the point quickly, Detavio Samuals, executive vice president and director of client services at marketing firm GlobalHue, told Fast Company.

“The need for publishers to get to the point quicker than ever came about as humans became more pressed for time and content became more infinite,” he said. “For publishers, it was evolve or risk losing their audience, and the only thing shorter than a tweet or post is a picture.”

This applies to nonprofits, which are dedicating more time and money to social media marketing.

According to Kivi Leroux Miller’s 2013 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, nonprofits are most likely to experiment this year with Pinterest, the image-centric content sharing website, which is already making inroads into the meetings industry.

Last fall, Visit Denver hosted a week-long Pinterest contest in which local residents could pin photos and images of the city; at the end of the week, the individual with the most followers won free memberships to five of the city’s cultural centers.

Image sharing on Pinterest within the association community is not just confined to the meetings industry. The Solar Energies Industry Association has several boards, for example, with videos, resources, and a history of solar energy. It also has a board filled with infographics that are linked to other industry websites.

“All organizations—whether you’re a Fortune 500, a university, or an association—have stories to share and advice to give, and well, if you don’t, you probably at least have fun stuff to spread across the web,” the David James Group wrote in a blog post advocating associations’ use of Pinterest.

The marketing firm listed several types of photos associations have at their disposal, including images that link back to educational content such as webinars or, in the case of SEIA, infographics. Associations with regional and local sections can also highlight those components and get regional members more engaged by posting photos of section leaders with their contact information. And here are 11 more ideas for different kinds of images nonprofits can share.

The National Parks Conservation Association has a good mix of thought-provoking and inspirational photos on its Facebook page. It also, as one might expect, makes good use of the hard-to-resist cute animal picture, like this image of laughing owls, which received almost 2,500 likes.

And if you can’t take advantage of cute animals or shocking statistics, you could share someone else’s photos, like the International Sign Association did when it posted a photo link on its Facebook page to an Anheuser-Busch story on the making of a new Budweiser sign.

There are lots of ways to make your social media posts more visual—what unique photos or images have you seen? How are you using photos to increase social media engagement?


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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