Is photo or video better for social media engagement?
Social media engagement is a key element of modern content marketing that organizations employ to both build and maintain a client base. An effective approach to social media engagement will depend on unique elements of your business, such as your company size, your resources, and your target demographics. With that in mind, although photo and video are both great options for boosting a business’s social media engagement, the following considerations can help you determine which should be your focus.
Using photos on social media
While it’s typical to use photos on social media, their benefits may be limited by various factors.
The comparative benefits of using photos on social media include:
- Ease of creation: Photos often feature fewer elements in general.
- A pool of relevant professionals: Photography and photo editing are very popular professional fields, and therefore it isn’t difficult to secure the help of a third-party.
- Can be consumed rapidly. People can typically scroll through photos quickly and understand their purpose, as opposed to video which requires more of a time commitment.
In general, photos are easier for the social media poster to create and for the audience to absorb.
The comparative drawbacks of using photos on social media include:
- Limitations on creativity: Photos feature fewer elements than video, and are primarily static. As such, there are fewer opportunities to include effects and story elements.
- Limitations on messaging: On an image, there tends to be fewer areas to include information and fewer options for how that information is included, e.g. it’s usually text on top of the image or as a caption.
- Oversaturation of photo media: Because photos are typically easier to produce than video, there are a lot online. This means there is a lot of competition for attention.
The simplicity of using photos for social media is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Many people use them, and therefore it’s easy to get lost in the crowd.
Using videos on social media
Video content is a great way to provide your audience with a more comprehensive and creative message. However, in some cases, these benefits may be outweighed by challenges associated with this media form of engagement.
The comparative benefits of using videos on social media include:
- Opportunities for more thorough messaging: By using a video, you have the time to convey complex messages in a more personal or interesting way, as opposed to using just a caption on a photo, for example.
- Significant creative options and opportunities: Video offers more of an opportunity to build a story and more time to deliver details.
- Potential for extended engagement: A user will tend to spend more time engaging with a video than a photo, due to the nature of the respective forms of media (video has a run time).
- May stand out more amongst other forms of media: Because video offers more opportunity for complex and creative messaging, it may be more unique as a result.
Videos are ideal when you need to share a large amount of information or want to create a more deeply engaging story for your audience.
The comparative drawbacks of using videos on social media include:
- Challenges of production: Video production, while often offering a rewarding product, typically requires more skills and resources to navigate.
- Time constraints: Video media tends to take longer to produce than photos.
- May pose a time barrier to engagement: A user will have to weigh whether they want to spend the time to engage with the video.
Videos typically take more skill and resources to shoot and edit, compared to photos.
Tips for choosing photos or videos for social media
With these benefits and drawbacks in mind, you will need to consider the specific circumstances of your business and the greater social context.
Consider the platform.
Photos and videos will be received differently depending on the social platform you are using to engage with people. For example, photos typically perform better than videos on Instagram, while videos perform better on YouTube. Photos may garner more engagement on platforms where users scroll through media quickly, while videos may be more successful on platforms where users are actively seeking out specific or detailed content. It will also be important to consider what demographics frequent the platform.
Focus on your message
It is helpful to start by determining what message you want to share and then deciding what medium would most effectively allow you to convey that message. For example, if you want to do a short, daily check-in with your audience, a photo may be more appropriate. On the other hand, if you wanted to explain something more complex or offer something of an educational nature to your audience, video might be better.
Know your audience
Understanding who your target audience is and how they typically behave online can be very valuable in determining whether you should focus on photo or video engagement. For example, individuals interested in DIY home projects may be more likely to engage with infographics or short videos. Meanwhile, individuals who are interested in video games may be particularly interested in long-form video and streaming content.
Run A/B tests
While there will be some amount of speculation when it comes to determining what your audience might prefer, you can also use more quantifiable options. As the Harvard Business Review details, consider using an A/B test to compare engagement data. Many platforms offer access to engagement analytics which can make this process relatively simple.
Beyond just comparing video engagement and photo engagement, it may also be helpful to compare more specific formats, as differences in engagement could have to do as much with the details of the content and format as the type of media. Try to determine whether your audience likes familiar language or formal, gifs or vlogs, morning posts or evening posts, and so on.
Use a combination of the two
It is also very possible that the best option for your business is to use both photo and video for social media. This may especially be the case if you offer a wide variety of content. If the message you are trying to send varies, the way it is presented should be chosen on a case-by-case basis.
A combination of media is a good option for businesses that have limited access to resources such as third-party professionals and equipment. In such cases, it may be most feasible to base the type of media you are using for social media on what resources you have access to at the time. While it can be helpful to determine which option is more effective, it isn’t worth breaking the bank over.