Should Photos Still Be Part of Your Facebook Strategy?

Chris CrumSocial Media

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Last month, SocialBakers shared some interesting findings about how different types of Facebook Page posts have been performing in terms of organic reach. Many were surprised to find that photos have become the least effective type of post in that regard, especially considering that a year before that, they were getting the most engagement.

Have you found photos to be less effective for your own Page? Let us know in the comments.

They looked at 4,445 Brand pages and more than 670,000 posts between October and February. Video was, by far, the best-performing type of post. This isn't really a huge surprise given that Facebook has been talking about video growth so much, but the fact that photos were significantly lower than both statuses and links, is pretty interesting.

Naturally, a lot of people have taken this to mean that photos just aren't where it's at anymore. OutboundEngine Director of Marketing Andrew Szatan and CEO Branndon Stewart have some thoughts about this mentality, which they shared with WebProNews.

"This study isn’t surprising," they said. "For some time now, Facebook has said that it intends to put increasing emphasis on video and this is evidence of that. While the study points to a meaningful trend for the social network, it’s still a little early to tell what this definitively means for brands. Based on the results of this study, the assumption that Facebook photos are 'dead' is greatly exaggerated. They still play a big role."

"For most businesses, the right move isn’t always to jump in and implement the 'shiny new object' -- in this case, a newer feature on a social network," the two added. "Those brands that have a dedicated social media team or an established visual presence should take advantage of this trend toward video to continue to provide compelling content to their fans, as it’s what they’ve come to expect. For smaller businesses that don’t have either of those things and that aren’t typically savvy when it comes to shooting high-quality, engaging videos, it doesn’t really make sense."

So how important are photos on Facebook these days? After all, based on the study, they're not even performing as well as links or plain status updates.

"Photos, like videos, are just another piece of the puzzle when it comes to having a well-balanced business page," said Szatan and Stewart. "Facebook's algorithm might now place an emphasis on original video, but that doesn't mean it’s all you should post. Photos still have a great deal of importance for pages because of the ability to tag people in them. A good way into the News Feeds of other people is through their friends' activity; photo tagging is a sure-fire way to do that. That being said, they're still only part of the mix of content you should be posting to your page."

Organic reach is one thing, but when it comes to Sponsored Posts, photos must be favorable to a plain text status update, right?

"Over the last few years, Facebook has become increasingly visual," the two said. "Additionally, advertising itself is typically visual, so it’s safe to say that most sponsored posts should most likely include a photo. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that photos do better as sponsored posts. Let’s look at it in another way. Small business should use their brand pages as testing grounds. If a photo or another type of post does particularly well, then it should be considered for a sponsored post to increase reach and engagement. What’s more important here is that it’s not necessarily about the type of post -- in this case, sponsored or organic post -- but about the quality and relevance of the content."

A while back, Facebook said it would penalize photos with links in the captions as this had become a common tactic for trying to get more links in the News Feed. I personally still see some of this in my News Feed, so it's unclear how much Facebook is really hurting these types of posts.

Asked if they believe these types of photos have taken a hit, Szatan and Stewart said, "Not having anything other than personal observation to go on here, I would say that Facebook limited the amount of photos posted containing links. I tried this method for promoting new blog posts on our own page a little over a year ago and didn't see any increase or decrease in post visibility or blog traffic. If this were a significant issue, it wasn't on our radar."

On the decline in photo performance, Socialbakers itself said, “Because photos were the long-dominant post type, they are both the most common type of post and the most frequently promoted. That alone would be enough to make them less effective than they were at their peak, but coupled with the introduction of videos in Q3 2014, the decline in photo reach has been sudden.That all adds up to a lot of competition for decreasing space.”

Here’s what the average fan reach for each type of post looks like:

“The real growth point today is in videos,” it said. “While they are relatively more promoted than photos – 27% of all videos are promoted, compared to 17% of photos – there are so many more photos than videos that the new format is still far more effective at reaching audiences.”

It won't be surprising if the effectiveness of organically reaching the News Feed with videos declines after another year as saturation occurs there too. In January, Facebook said video was up 75% year-over-year, and SocialBakers found that brands were posting more Facebook videos than YouTube videos to Facebook, which was pretty much unthinkable a year before that.

How important are photos to your Facebook strategy? Have you had to make some changes? Discuss.

Images via SocialBakers

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.