Let’s get the obvious out of the way: If you represent a brand on Facebook, you should be posting photos. A study has shown that photo posts on Facebook receive vastly higher rates of engagement and viral spread than your standard text or link posts. That’s not a big surprise to anyone who’s spent much time in a news feed recently.
Not all photos are created equal. Bland stock photos. Boring product shots. Headshots. Vague event crowd snapshots. Sure, they might increase the visibility of what would otherwise be a text-only snoozefest on Facebook. That doesn’t mean they’re going to drive people to interact with your brand’s messaging. Instead, you want photos that your audience is going to care about.
[FREE GUIDE: 6 steps to crafting an internal social media plan]
So what will drive engagement? What types of photos scream out for “likes” and comments and—dare I say it—shares? Let’s look at the brands that are having the greatest success with images on Facebook and why. (For no additional cost, certain photo posts fall into more than one of the success categories in this article-total bonus.)
The best part? Even though the brands in this article are the digital brand equivalents of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, their Facebook image strategies are easy to learn from.
1. Shareable event or holiday imagery
Whether it’s Christmas, Mother’s Day, or Houseplant Appreciation Day, people are going to flock to Facebook to wish their friends and family a happy one. That’s why the savviest brands on Facebook get in on the action by posting brand-relevant holiday images that people want to share. If they’re done right, you’re giving your fans the equivalent of a free greeting card to send to family and friends at the click of a mouse.
The brand play can be subtle, as was the case in Target’s Cinco de Mayo image:
Or you can be a little more overt:
Generally speaking, the more rabid your fans, the more prominently you can feature your brand. Hello Kitty is a classic example:
Again, this opportunity isn’t confined to holidays. Consider major events, like Election Day. How many posts from friends do you see with a generic text-only “I voted” equivalent? Give those folks a more interesting way to share this news:
2. The less-ordinary product shot
When you release a new product, you might be tempted just to snap a glamour shot and post away. In certain cases, that’s sufficient, but you’ll get more mileage out of images that display the product in a unique way. This might be via a visual pun, as McDonald’s did with its Fish McBites:
Yes, many of the 16,000-plus comments inevitably remark on the gag-inducing concept of the product, but that’s dwarfed by the 118,000-plus “likes” the image received. No doubt, this image performed better than a strict close-up of some greasy fried fish nuggets.
Even if your product is a bit more visually appealing than your average Fish McBite, you’ll still benefit from photos that take a unique angle (or that contain unique angling) on your product or display it in a cool or compelling environment. No one gets this better than automobile companies. Just check out the Facebook pages of any of the biggies. Their product shots are automotive pornography, and people love them.
3. Food porn
This one is probably pretty obvious to anyone marketing food or beverages. Your images need to make people drool-but some images do it better than others.
Take this Starbucks image, for example:
There’s nothing wrong with that image, and no one is going to complain about 4,600-plus “likes,” but compare it against this other Starbucks post:
BAM. More than 97,000 “likes.” That’s the power of well-executed food porn.
In addition to over-the-top product shots, don’t forget to showcase the various uses of your product. In some cases, that might be in the context of a recipe, as in this Reese’s example:
In this case, Reese’s is capitalizing on two Facebook photo best practices.
Which leads me to…
4. Your brand in the real world
Fan photos are powerful things. They’re eye candy and a testimonial all wrapped up in one shareable little package. So make use of them. When you discover good fan pics, share them to your fans.
Few brands are doing this quite as well as Converse. The brand frequently showcases its product in surprising places via its fan photos:
It doesn’t neglect the simpler fan photos, though:
Believe it or not, both types of images perform exceptionally well for the brand.
5. Visual quotations
Yes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. But a picture and words? Well, that’s worth—like—1,007 words:
This is a relatively simple but effective example from Dove. But the quotes can take many forms-actual historical quotes by respected figures or (as in the Dove example) powerful sentiments without any specific attribution.
Oreo is the master of the visual quotation. From the self-glorifying humor play…
…to the fan testimonial (i.e., tying in the previously mentioned “your brand in the real world” best practice):
6. Pop culture spoofs
OK, so we’ve covered Facebook Photo-Posting 101. Ready for the advanced track? Now’s the time to start getting clever. To do so, don’t hesitate to draw on pop icons and trending topics-and then shoehorn your brand right in there:
7. Duh—cat photos (bonus: caption contests)
Finally, if you can get away with it-post cat photos. Everyone else does. And no matter how played-out the trend might seem, people love it. Walmart took it a step further with a caption contest-which practically seems like cheating when it comes to engaging people on Facebook. But you can’t argue with 97,000-plus “likes,” 16,000-plus comments, and a whopping 17,000-plus shares.