It’s no secret that photos are the best performing post type for Facebook Pages. The data, pictured below, proves it. But no one has answered the most basic question: Why?
I know what you’re thinking…”Why does the ‘why’ matter? This works!”
Well, it’s pretty simple. Facebook is constantly changing. In fact, they’re pushing changes twice as often now. Industry reports, on the other hand, aren’t published very often. It takes months to compile the data, analyze it, andwrite reports / design infographics. Understanding the ‘why’ will help you notice new changes and give you the ability to adjust your Facebook marketing strategy on the fly– without waiting for reports from the experts.
So back to the question: Why is it that photos perform so much better than links, videos, or regular status updates?
Newsfeed Real Estate (Prominence on the Newsfeed)
The biggest advantage of posting a photo is the amount of space it takes up on a user’s Newsfeed in comparison to other post types. Here are some recent posts about the Mars Curiosity rover (from Pages) that showed up in my Newsfeed. Although the posts are all similar in subject matter, there is quite a difference in the prominence on my Newsfeed due to the different post types.
Photo from MightyText:
Link from TechCrunch:
Status from Manpacks:
As you can see, status updates clearly take up the smallest amount of space on a user’s Newsfeed. Links [and videos] take up about 2x as much space as statuses, and photos take up about 2x as much space as links [and videos], or 4x that of statuses. It’s safe to say prominence in the Newsfeed greatly benefits photos.
Keep in mind that these screenshots are on desktop– but the advantages of photos are even greater on mobile. With Facebook’s mobile app (although I can only attest to the iOS app), users aren’t distracted with the left-hand column of Favorites, Pages, Groups, [etc.] or the two right-hand columns of ads and the chat window– as their entire screen is their Newsfeed. On mobile, a single photo post takes up the entire screen– and sometimes even more, depending on the length of the caption of the photo. Links and videos cover about 2/3 of the screen on mobile while status updates cover only 1/3 to 1/2 of the screen on mobile, depending on length. Once again, advantage: photos.
Additional Engagement Options
First thing’s first– you need to understand that Facebook tracks every single engagement/action you make on the site. They use this information to help them give you a better experience by providing the most valuable content to you in your Newsfeed. This doesn’t just include likes, comments, and shares— but also photo views (or photo clicks), video plays, link clicks, as well as other clicks– clicking to see more comments on a post, clicking to see who liked a post, etc.
With that said, it’s obvious why status updates suck. They don’t have as many options to engage as photos, videos, or links. The EdgeRank [affinity] between a Page and me [a user] increases when I click on a photo, but it doesn’t when I read a status. Why? Because Facebook has no idea whether or not I read that status– unless I engage with it by liking, commenting, or sharing.
On the other hand, the disadvantages of links aren’t as obvious. They have additional engagement options [via click], but there’s a major problem– clicking a link takes the user to an entirely new page. Most Facebook Page owners are probably happy about this– because it likely takes them back to their actual website– but this makes it extremely inconvenient for a user to get back to the post to like/comment/share. This is why links seem to perform so poorly on Facebook, as indicated by the graph at the top of this post. The only considerations in that graph are likes, comments, and shares– not clicks! Plus, fans may ‘like’ (or share/comment on) an article itself– but that like will be attributed to the article object, not the post object.
The 90-9-1 Principle
This principle (pictured below) states that in any community 90% of the people are passive readers, 9% are active participants, and 1% account for creating the majority of content. In Facebook Page terminology: 90% are observers who never like/comment/share, 9% occasionally like/comment, and 1% like/comment/share/post to your wall.
For the 90% who are observers, it’s nearly impossible to increase their affinity with your Page. This vast majority is likely too lazy to watch a video, answer a poll question, or click-thru a link to read an article. But what’s easy, quick, and doesn’t involve liking/commenting/sharing?
Clicking on a photo.
This is the (lowest-friction) most likely engagement any fan will make. It doesn’t bring the user to a new page or require any ‘social’ actions. It’s the easiest way for a Page to increase the affinity factor of EdgeRank.
Related post: 7 Easy Ways to Increase Your Page’s EdgeRank
Have any questions/comments/ideas for future posts? Let me know below!
..and of course, don’t forget to like/tweet/buffer/share/sign up for an invite!