You may have heard (or maybe seen) that pictures can drive big engagement on Facebook.
It’s true. According to Facebook, posts that include either a photo album or picture can drive up to 180% more engagement than a text-only post.
Which is great! But only tells half the story.
The fact is, pictures alone won’t do anything for your Facebook marketing unless you know how to use them, and even the most visually appealing Timelines often fall short when it comes to getting more comments, “likes,” or shares.
The secret is in the strategy.
Here are 17 ways small businesses can use pictures to drive engagement:
1. To give fans a glimpse of the past
Whether you’ve been open for ten months or ten years, every business has a unique history and a story fans will appreciate. Sharing old photos are a great way to tell your business’ story and to give people a glimpse into just how far you’ve come.
Maybe you won’t have a history that dates back more than 100 years like Westover School, which posts pictures from the school’s archives every week on “Flashback Friday,” but chances are you have photos from your early days that customers would love to see.
2. To help fans prepare for an event
Have an event coming up? Chances are you have plenty of materials you’re already using to plan your event that you could share with fans on Facebook.
Winter Park Harvest Festival, for example, recently shared a map of the grounds where they are holding their annual event. On the map is the complete layout of the entire festival, letting fans see exactly what the festival’s organizers have in store this year.
Plus, with an effective call-to-action, Winter Park Harvest Festival is able to drive fans to its website for more information.
3. To make people say aww…
It’s safe to say that businesses like Oh to Be a Dog, a pet-care business in Pasadena, CA, have a bit of an advantage when it comes to driving engagement on Facebook.
Pet-lovers are among the most vocal members of any social media community, and showcasing pictures that makes people saw “Awww…” is a great way to get people to click “like.”
But for Oh to Be a Dog, it’s not just about cashing in on the “cute factor,” it’s also about showing other dog owners that they offer a range of pet-care services—and most importantly—that other pet-owners have trusted them to take care of their pets.
Using photos to build your reputation and to develop trust with prospective clients is something that all businesses, regardless of industry, should cash in on.
4. To make people hungry
If you’re a restaurant, bakery, or caterer—using pictures to show off all the great stuff coming out of your kitchen is a great way to boost engagement. Not only that, it’s a great way to turn fans into customers.
This is something Massachusetts-based, In a Pickle Restaurant, knows well. They constantly share photos of items fresh out the oven, timing them just right so customers thinking about breakfast or lunch will be eager to pay them a visit.
Even if you’re not in the food-service industry, the idea here is to make sure to choose photos that portray your products in a flattering light, and that give customers some insight into how they came to be.
5. To inspire your fans
At Constant Contact, we’re all about celebrating the people that inspire us most: small business owners. But we also like to share our own inspiration, especially when our fans really need it.
And if you’re using Constant Contact Email Marketing, you have free access to PicMonkey, our new image editing tool, which is perfect for combining images and text to create inspiring (and engaging) pictures.
6. To promote your blog
If you’re been scratching your head trying to figure out how to attract more readers for your blog, the answer may be right in front of you. Your Facebook fans are the perfect audience for your blog. These are people who know your business, enjoy seeing your content, and who are most likely to want to learn more.
And using a picture can be a great way to not only get more people commenting, liking, and sharing your posts, but also clicking through to read your content. A business like Art Impressions, an Oregon-based craft supplier, uses pictures that show a finished product and link to blog posts that help customers do it themselves.
In this instance, the picture is being used as a source of inspiration and education, which in turn can lead to big-time engagement.
7. To share your calendar of events
Businesses are always looking for a way to share all the incredible stuff they have going on with their target audience. And, if you’ve been trying to promote different events every week (or in some cases, everyday) you know just how time-consuming that can be.
Why not let your audience know about everything all at once by sharing your event calendar.
In the past, this would have been a difficult task as larger images often appeared distorted or compressed to the point where text was impossible to read on Facebook. But with Facebook’s new full-screen photo viewer, businesses can share an entire month’s calendar and know that customers will see all of their events. Plus, you can “pin” the calendar on your Page so that anyone who visits will be able to find it.
8. To promote a special offer
When it comes to special offers or promotions (like this social campaign from Orange Cycle), pictures can be a great way to not only get more exposure for the deal, but also get more people sharing it with their friends on Facebook.
Simply posting, “Hey, check out this great offer!” may catch someone’s attention, but it’s not really engaging and it certainly isn’t very shareable. The good thing about using pictures is … people are more likely to share them even if they aren’t accompanied by a special offer. Use an image to promote your next campaign and don’t forget to encourage fans to share!
9. To tell people what’s new
Small businesses are always looking for new ways to get the word out about new products, services, or changes to their usual offerings.
But with the clutter of businesses trying to tell people what’s new, it can often be hard to get the attention you’re looking for. That’s why pictures are so important. Not only will you be telling people about a new product or service, but you’ll actually be showing them what you have in store.
Heritage Bakery & Café does an exceptional job at getting people excited about new treats by combining photos with text. So, not only will people’s mouths be watering, but they’ll know exactly what to expect when they show up at the counter to place their order.
10. To show what people can do with your products
When you’re offering delicious cupcakes, there are only a few choices of what someone is going to do with your product. But when you’re a fabric store like The Calico House, there’s an endless amount of possibilities of what customers can create with the stuff you sell.
Showing customers some examples of how they can use your products will inspire your audience and can often generate quite a conversation.
11. To help people put your products into context
In addition to showing people examples of how your products can be used, you can also use pictures to help customers visualize how your stuff will look in the place its going to end up.
For Second Bloom Design, that means sharing photos of the homes of satisfied customers on Facebook or via email. That way, customers can see just how beautiful their custom furniture can look in their own home.
The important lesson for your Facebook marketing: don’t just post stock images of your products; give them a real-life context your customers will be able to relate to.
12. To have some fun with your fans
It can be easy to forget—with all the stress that often accompanies marketing your business—that social media is supposed to be fun for you and your customers.
Use pictures to bring some joy back to your Facebook marketing. A “caption contest” or “fill in the blank” contest are great ways to lighten things up and generate some real engagement. The key is to find a picture that is relevant to your business and that fans will actually want to comment on.
13. To share great stories
On Facebook, all small businesses—in one way or another—become story tellers.
Whether it’s your story, the story of your products, or the story of your customers—Facebook allows you to give customers a unique look “behind the curtain” to get a “real” look at your business.
For Orange Cycle, a family-owned bike shop that has been in business for forty years, the best story they have to tell is that of their customers. And when customers have been patrons of their business for years or even decades—what a compelling story that is to tell.
Plus with a photo, they are able to humanize the work they’re involved in every single day.
14. To see how well people know your products
Want to test the expertise of your fanbase and give them a chance to show off how well they know your business? Use a photo and let them add a caption or answer a question.
Like when you’re trying to have some fun with your fans, challenging them is a great way to get them to come back to see how well they can do when put to the test.
15. To show what you can do for customers
The number one question consumers ask whenever they see any type of marketing material is “What’s in it for me?” That doesn’t mean they’re selfish, it’s just a natural reaction when a business shows up in your inbox—or in this case—in your News Feed.
Pictures are a great way to answer that question for customers before they have a chance to ask it. Awesome Merchandise, for example, uses photos to not only celebrate the work of the creative people they work with, but also to show how they can give that creativity new life with their merchandise and printing services.
If you’re in the service industry, regardless if you print t-shirts, mow lawns, or build houses—using a photo to show a finished product is a great way to get customers to say WOW and to hopefully share their feedback. Or even better, pick up the phone and book an appointment or place an order.
16. To let people know you’re still open
As a small business owner, you know how debilitating inclement weather can be to your business. And while using pictures on Facebook won’t do much for controlling the weather, it will help you keep customers informed about how that weather is impacting your schedule.
A business like Boloco—which has plenty of experience dealing with unpredictable New England weather—uses photos to lighten up the mood when the weather turns bad, and lets customers know they’re open for business.
17. To show off cool or informative infographics
Infographics are a great way to boost engagement and inform your target audience.
They’re also a powerful tool for demonstrating a specific point or garnering support for a cause you support. Take Nicastro’s Driving School for example. This locally-owned driving school uses an infographic to get support for a cause it is committed to: stopping texting-and-driving.
Using an infographic lets them illustrate revealing facts and figures to support their cause, without clogging up fans News Feeds with too much text. Plus, it gives fans the opportunity to show their support by sharing it with their own social community.
Create your own visual engagement strategy
If you’ve been posting pictures to you Facebook Page and still aren’t seeing the engagement you’re looking for, it may be time to reevaluate your strategy. Pictures alone won’t drive engagement, but having a clear goal and understanding why you’re using them will.
These 17 ideas provide a snapshot of the countless ways pictures can be used to drive engagement on Facebook—come up with your own and develop a plan that works for your business!
How is your business using photos on Facebook? Tell us in the comments.