As new social media platforms emerge, the way consumers engage with brands continues to change and evolve. Keeping up with the latest social media trends can seem like a daunting task for many businesses. Working smarter – instead of harder – is one of the best ways companies can maximize their social media efforts. In today’s world, that often means using pictures instead of text.
To learn more about how companies can improve their social media campaigns, I interviewed Apu Gupta, the co-founder of Curalate. Curalate studies and decodes images that consumers are sharing over social media. They’ve helped over 400 brands, including 50% of the top-US retailers, create more meaningful connections with their customers.
Images on Social Media
Gupta says there is a fundamental shift in consumer behavior on social media. While in the past consumers primarily used text-driven sites, like Twitter and Facebook, they’re now leaning more toward image-focused sites like Pinterest and Instagram. This fundamental shift has created confusion for many brands about how to best use images in a meaningful way.
Curalate created a computer algorithm to gather data and decode which image characteristics attract the most consumer engagement. Gupta acknowledges, “We’re looking at the what versus the why,” meaning that they aren’t sure why certain colors or types of images seem to attract the most attention. It is clear, however, that images evoke an emotional response and brands can learn how to evoke responses that will draw consumers in.
Curalate’s research on Pinterest uncovered some interesting findings about the types of photos that attract the most pins, repins and likes. They reviewed over a half million images on Pinterest and examined consumer engagement based on 30 different characteristics in the photos. Here’s some of what they found:
- Reddish-orange images received twice as many repins as blue images.
- Images with multiple dominant colors have 3.25 times more repins than images with a single dominant color.
- Images with medium lightness are repinned 20 times more than very dark images.
- Images with a smooth texture are repinned 17 times more than images with a rough texture.
- Brand images without faces in the picture receive 23% more repins.
Curalate discovered that what gains attention on Pinterest doesn’t neceassarily attract consumer engagement on Instagram. They studied 8 million Instagram photos to see which characteristics seem to perform best. Here’s some of what their research uncovered:
- Images with high lightness generate 24% more likes than dark images.
- Images with blue as the dominant color generate 24% more likes than images that are predominantly red.
- Duck-face selfies generate 1,124% more likes than traditional selfies.
- Images with low saturation generate 18% more likes than those with vibrant colors.
- Images with a single dominant color generate 17% more likes than images with multiple dominant colors.
What Brands Can Learn
Gupta acknowledges that companies shouldn’t simply take Curalate’s data and instantly apply it to their social media strategy. Instead, he encourages brands to learn what their audience is looking for by evaluating which photos are receiving the most engagement.
Gupta recommends that brands listen to their audience and give them what the y want. “Stop looking at your agenda and look at what your consumers want,” says Gupta. A brand’s ideas about what will attract the most engagement is usually very different from what actually draws consumers in.
“Use social data to make your business smarter based on how your audience engages,” advises Gupta. He warns that businesses should no longer have separate social media departments whose function is to simply post information. Instead, he recommends that social media departments be involved in gathering and reporting data to the rest of the company so that the business can create products and services that will appeal to their audience.