Visual Content Sharing on Facebook

Kids Are Shareable, Parents Aren’t in Retail Brand Images on Facebook:

In a recent study of Facebook images published by five leading retail brands, we found that brand images on Facebook showing babies and children earn 191% more shares than images of adults and 238% more shares than images showing adults and children together.

Furthermore, we found that retail brand images showing both adults and children, usually portraying a parent and child or an entire family, are the lowest performing images for likes, shares, and comments on Facebook.

How We Made The Discovery and What It Means for Brand Content Strategies

We used the Taggs’ visual content marketing software to index 858 brand images from the Facebook pages of five US retail brands: Forever21, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Old Navy, Target, and Walmart. For each image, we collected Facebook likes, shares, and comments, and then we classified the images as showing babies / children, adults, or both.

We found that images of adults only dominated the distribution. Images of adults occur 84% of the time.

Frequency of Brand Images Showing Baby:Child, Adult, or Both

How do these categories compare in engagement?

Facebook Engagement Comparison for Brand Images of Babies:Children Vs. Adult

We’re not surprised to discover that images showing only babies and children earn the highest engagement. Advertisers have known for decades that babies and kids wield exceptional advertising power (e.g. Michelin, E*Trade, et al.). They have the similar power on Facebook, especially in motivating users to share.

Shares Comparison For Brand Images

For Facebook likes and comments, brand images of babies and children perform similarly to images of adults. Yet for shares, the images of babies and children dramatically outperform the other categories, 191% more shares than images of adults and 238% more shares than images of adults and children together.

Parents (and Families) Earn the Least Facebook Engagement

Given the retail brands in this study, including Walmart, Target, and Macy’s, we were surprised to find that images showing an adult with a baby or child earned the least likes, shares, and comments on average.

I assume that many followers of these retail brands are family-oriented, perhaps many are parents, grandparents, etc. I expected they might like these images portraying parental or familial relationships. But they don’t. Not only do family images underperform images of babies, but also images of only adults.

So why do they underperform? I hope to hear your theories in the comments. But here’s mine.

The data reveals again and again that brand images that enable Facebook users to project themselves into the image, to imagine themselves with a product or lifestyle, tend to achieve greater engagement.

In fact, we’ve found that brand images without people earn 22% more Facebook engagement than images showing at least one person. To Facebook users, the person in a brand image owns the product, lifestyle, or moment, making it difficult for the user to take possession of it.

Adding another person, a child in this case, further removes the user from the image. Not only is there a strange adult in the photo, but now there is someone else’s kid, neither of whom may resonate with the user.

Key Takeaways for Your Brand’s Visual Content Marketing Strategy

Marketers should incorporate the following lessons into their visual content marketing strategy:

1.  Babies and children in images provide a powerful asset for marketers to increase Facebook shares. Obviously marketers can’t use babies and children 100% of the time to maximize shares, but they’re in the marketing arsenal when you need them.

2.  A randomly posted image of a baby won’t be relevant for your audience, so don’t misuse and abuse them as a content asset. Use these assets when the appropriate occasion arises. Did you know there’s a Happy Baby Day every year on May 2? I didn’t but a couple of the brands we analyzed here did and garnered great engagement around the posts.

3.  Even for the family-oriented retail brands in our study, images showing adults and children paired together earned the least engagement across the board, for likes, shares, and comments. The advertising power of a baby seems to unravel when an adult is added to the image.

What are your takeaways for Facebook content marketing?

About The Author

Mark Kelley is the co-founder and CEO at Taggs, the leader in visual content marketing software, serving some of the world’s largest consumer brands and agencies. Mark founded Taggs with the vision of helping marketers measure and optimize their visual content marketing across all social platforms.

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