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A Picture is Worth...140 Characters

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Stock rocks

Stock images are going social
Stock images are going social

Here's a number to boggle your mind: According to Gizmodo, Facebook users upload more than 500 terabytes of data, including 300 million photos.

That's “A.”

B. In a recent study, HubSpot found that posts with images get 53% more likes than  posts sans imagery.

And C. New survey results from stock photo agency Dreamstime point to a marked uptick in businesses using stock images to supplement their social content marketing. Roughly 67% of Dreamtime's nearly five million registered users purchase stock images for work-related purposes, including for use on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ company pages.

The takeaways from this are threefold. One, if your mother's on Facebook, she's probably going to see that picture of you playing beer pong in a basement wearing a jester hat and pink bikini bottoms circa senior year of college. (You can always count on old friends to scan long-forgotten analog photos of you doing ridiculous things from back in the day.) Two, images are engagement gold. And three, brands and businesses are turning to stock photography to help represent themselves on social sites.

“Statistically, we know that users are way more motivated if a story or a status update contains a photo—Facebook, for example, has published statistics about click-through rates and the difference between text-only posts and those accompanied by photos,” says Dreamstime CEO Serban Enache. “Ultimately, the posts with images make a better connection because they trigger interaction from users.”

Images catch the eye, making a user more likely to comment or, at the very least, click.

For example, which would you click on?

 Click appeal

 Not so much

   

Though Facebook is known to surface text-only posts more often than photos in news feeds, HubSpot's study notes that this may just be a moot point. What's the purpose of text-only social posts if people aren't clicking on them?

Of course, smart content marketing is about more than slapping a semi-related image on a status update or a tweet and calling it a day. If the point is engagement, marketers have to make an effort to actually be engaging.

“Brands need to choose the right type of photo for the medium, and it's going to be different if it's for their annual brochure rather than an image for a social media account,” says Enache. “We provide the content, but they need their own strategy regarding how they address their audience.”

And an image on its lonesome isn't going to do the engagement trick, either. A well-rounded post with a bit of text, a link, and an engaging image is your best bet.

“It's about looking for the right type of photo and really considering the interaction it's going to bring to users,” says Enache. “[A brand] looking for an image has to bring its own creativity to the process.”

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