Why Photos Do So Well on Social Media

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Over the past several months I have documented many case studies as it relates to social media. I am a very fortunate individual that has over 475,000 followers on Google+. This allows me to truly understand social media psychology. When I had under 10,000 followers most of my engagement was long form and more drawn-out posts. The conversation was lengthy and many of my followers were willing to sit and discuss issues for hours on end.

As my following grew I recognized that this type of social media engagement is a small minority. There are not a lot of people who have time to respond with 500 words. Heck, many people don’t have the time to respond at all. They will simply +1, like or favorite. This is what has become the new engagement on social media.

One of the quickest ways to get a response from an audience on social media is with a pretty picture. The social network Pinterest was built entirely around pictures. There are plenty of photo sharing networks that thrive. One of the largest subreddits on Reddit is the r/pics subreddit.

photo album on a laptop

This comes as no surprise as many Internet users do not have the time to sit and read a 1000 word article, digest the information and give an educated response through a comment. They would rather see a pretty picture on their smartphone and double tap to like. I have noticed that I am much more likely to give an HDR photo a +1 than I am an article that is more than a few hundred words. With this in mind, here are some reasons photos do so well on social media networks.

Photos Do Not Take Time to Consume


When looking to research a particular legal question or the ramifications of a divorce, most people will go to Google and search for a long-form resource. They will seek out .gov and .edu websites. They do not think to go to Twitter, Facebook or even Google+ to look for this type of information. They sure don’t want to post publicly that they are looking for information about filing for divorce. This is a personal issue that should be kept behind closed doors. What people enjoy doing on social media is consuming content that is not related to difficult life issues. Pretty pictures often put a smile on the face of the person viewing said picture. This is true online as well as offline.

People visit art shows and museums for a reason. They often do not do this as part of their job. They do it as a reason to get away from their jobs. It is the exact same on a smartphone or laptop. After getting off work many social media users do not want to sit down to read more about issues related to their occupation. They would rather see a photo of their old college stomping grounds or Yellowstone National Park they visited a few years ago. This down time gives them a chance to unwind and enjoy a little bit of relaxation.

While some social media users are more than happy to take the time to read dozens of articles a day, we must recognize that most simply do not have the time. Think about the average newspaper reader. There are five to six major headlines on each page of a newspaper. Very few readers will read every single article. They will scan and choose what suits their interest. The same is true when it comes to social media consumption. Users are not going to click every single article. In fact, there have been metrics showing that a 1 percent to 2 percent click through is quite high when it comes to social media consumption. This is something to consider when sharing content.

Sharing Content with Photos

Couple Tablet

Some of the more successful business professionals recognize that photos catch the eye of the user. They come up with a strategic way to share content with photos. This is very easy on Google+ as the platform has an option to share a photo and a link can be added. While some will use Bit.ly or Goo.gl others will just insert the entire link into the body of the Google+ post. The same can be done on Facebook. It is not as easy to do this on Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter. This is where businesses must decide what is worth their time.

For quite some time I have urged businesses to sink time into Google+ because Google owns it. Over the next few years it stands to reason that Google will weigh the value of a Google+ profile into search rankings. I am not making the claim that this is happening yet. An active Google+ business page will allow Google to see how users are consuming the content. From the early days at Google there was always one thing in mind – the end user. If the end user is happy with the search results and the services, Google will continue to thrive.

In the long run Google wants searchers to find exactly what they are looking for. Google+ will allow them to personalize search results. If a particular user is updating their Google+ profile with photos from Chicago, Illinois it makes sense that Google search results should be focused around Chicago instead of Miami, Florida or St. Louis, Missouri. This is very important for local small businesses. Most local small businesses want to grow within the community. Google+ allows this to happen as it has been baked into the local search results on Google Maps.

Ultimately, businesses should desire to increase engagement on any social platform. One way to do this is to share photos with their audience. Photos with a link work wonders as it helps to illustrate the message of the article or blog post.

Talk to We Do Web Content about how to improve your social media presence through photos and shareable content. Give us a call at 888-521-3880 or contact us online.