earlier this year, facebook announced that images were getting plus-sized in a big push for more visual, engaging content in users’ newsfeeds and on facebook pages. I think the changes are good news for smaller businesses without a lot of marketing resources. what does this mean for your posting strategy on facebook?
are pictures still better than links on facebook?
currently, the way pictures are posted on facebook has a big effect on how they are displayed. an example from hubspot highlights the difference in appearance. a picture posted as an image gets prominent placement, while a picture from an article that is posted as a link gets b-list status with the link headline. data on clickthrough and engagement indicated that more people interacted with the larger image. best practices, therefore, dictated that it was preferable to include links in picture posts to facebook. for marketers generating a lot of shareable content, this created the potential for backups, since posts to channels like twitter and linkedin were more straightforward.
newsfeed changes are “link-friendly”
a january article in insidefacebook detailed the changes to images previews on posted links, and it was good news. “preview images,” the image that accompanies a posted link, will be tripling in size – from 90×90 to 154×154 pixels. this means that marketers posting links to facebook will not be giving up as much in terms of visibility in the stream. although the preview images will still not be as large as posted images, the sizes are more comparable. in addition, posted links have the advantage of full, highlighted titles and snippets, increasing the likelihood that viewers will click through to the site.
does it really matter anyway?
the coverage I have seen on the changes tends toward confirming imagery as the be-all and end-all of social marketing on facebook. the socialfresh article (link below) goes so far as to say
“The increased size of photos in the News Feed helps solidify photos as the holy grail of Facebook advertising. Photos already generate clicks and engagement and now will be even moreeye-catching.”
I disagree – I think that for a majority of marketers, the changes open the possibility of guilt-free cross posting without fretting about special tweaks for facebook. I would also cite a fall 2012 post over in allfacebook that makes the important point that engaging imagery won’t save a weak call to action:
…there is more than enough evidence to warrant suggesting that you make occasional text-only posts and measure the results. Similar results of text-only posts outperforming all others for total organic reach — dating back to early October, when we started testing — were seen across many other pages. In fact, I have found that other online marketers are seeing similar results. Chad Richards of Firebelly Marketing also noticed this oddity and indicated 132 percent increased reach on text-only posts across three pages it administered during a given test. As I was finishing up this post, I noticed that Hugh Briss had just posted similar findings and mentioned that Mari Smith and George Takei have also taken note of it.
the post includes some interesting math on reach and organic engagement – that is to say, interaction with the people most likely to convert.
In closing, I do not mean to say that pictures don’t matter. pertinent imagery is a great way to engage people with your content, and the changes to facebook’s newsfeed do not do anything to change that. however, small businesses and/or those for whom facebook drives less revenue can save time by not having to create custom posts for the channel.