At the end of 2013, there were 150 million users on Instagram, and 15 percent of Internet users had Pinterest accounts. The growth of these relatively young social media sites has been exponential the past year, due in part to the intense shareability of images. The performance of photos isn’t limited to image-centric sites – in 2013, photos and images accounted for 93 percent of the engagement on Facebook.
Statistics consistently show that posts with images and photographs perform better on social media sites than text-only posts, and the Internet as a whole seems to agree that funny cat pictures are fantastic. But should a business rely on funny or shocking pictures – cat or otherwise – to drive traffic? It’s easy to populate your page with memes, but there is value to taking the longer route to success when you create organic content or hire a writer to do it for you.
Readers Know When You Worked for Them
The problem with LOLcat and other meme images is that they didn’t take any effort. A quick image search and you scoop up hundreds of pictures – many of them under creative commons licenses – that you can share with your audience. It seems like a cost-effective solution to content generation, but many of your followers are familiar with the Internet. They know what a meme is, and they know you didn’t work to bring them something of value.
Organic Images are Unique, Interesting, and Valuable
Organic images – images you created, modified, or are using in a customized way – increase true engagement. A funny meme photo you cribbed from Google images may spawn hundreds of likes and some shares, but an image you tie to unique content creates cohesive interaction that builds online relationships. The Social Media Examiner provides eight tips for engaging your audience with image content, including caption contests and asking for votes. The article also points out that you can answer customer questions or needs with a single photograph or set of images that explains a product or provides a how-to lesson. These, and not LOLcats, are usually the photographs that go viral on Pinterest.
Use a Balanced Approach
Don’t be afraid to show the personality of your brand through social media posts. Sometimes a meme is especially pertinent to your business or audience. Create a balance between helpful, serious, and funny posts that keep your audience in mind. Whenever possible, put your own unique spin on any image by adding text content to your post.
Sarah S writes content for brand social media pages, blogs, and websites. She spends time on image-sharing sites such as Imgur so she knows what’s trending online – she tells herself it’s for the benefit of clients. Her favorite meme will always be the socially awkward penguin.