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Study: Images and Photos Most Important for Optimizing Social Media Content


To better understand what tactics marketers use to optimize social media content, Software Advice has partnered with Adobe to create the first-ever Social Media Content Optimization Survey. And early results are coming in: we have received 168 responses from marketers so far. Here, we provide a sneak peek of the results.

Key Findings

  • Using images and photos is the most important tactic for optimizing content for social media, followed by using hashtags and usernames and targeting specific people.
  • Nurturing relationships, raising brand awareness and growing followers are top outcomes of optimizing social media content.
  • Social media content optimization has the least impact on generating leads and driving direct-response sales.

SMCO survey

Which Tactics Are Most Important?

As mentioned, the most important tactics our respondents use for optimizing content on social media are using images or photos, targeting specific groups or users and including hashtags or usernames. Among the least important tactics: limiting the number of characters and using videos.

Social Optimization Tactics

While most social media marketers know that images and photos make social media content more engaging, this tactic is only becoming more important, as Twitter recently released its new option of including images in-line with Tweets. Further, our survey data suggests that marketers increasingly target specific people as a means of making content more effective; including images in those targeted posts can drive the point home even further.

As an example, say you wanted to target marketing professionals looking for a new job. Instead of simply blasting a blog post about your company’s open marketing positions, you might also include a photo of your company’s marketing team, post it in a marketing professionals group and “@-mention” specific people your recruiting team is targeting—a much more focused approach.

Similarly, marketers often use hashtags and usernames to expose their content to social media users whose followings are relevant to their campaign goals: for example, you could target people who are interested in the Virgin Group by including “@RichardBranson” in a Tweet. Alternatively, you could use the hashtag #virgingroup to reach the same audience.

This targeted approach to social content optimization makes sense when you consider the goal marketers are most successfully achieving with their social content (which we’ll cover in the next section): nurturing existing relationships.

What Are the Top Outcomes?

Of the goals marketers hope to achieve by optimizing their social media content, those who took our survey were most successful at nurturing relationships, building brand recognition and gaining followers. They were least successful at driving direct-response sales, generating leads, driving web traffic and building thought leadership.

Social Optimization Goals.004

This data suggests that, for our respondents, optimizing social media content is most effective for nurturing relationships. This may refer to relationships with existing customers, or to those with leads in the middle stage of the sales funnel. While email marketing is the more traditional method for lead nurturing, personalized social media content can be used to achieve the same goal.

Given that marketers are experiencing success with increasing brand awareness, gaining social followers for their brand and increasing engagement with current customers, they may very well be laying the groundwork for future customers (even though social content may not directly be contributing to sales).

Our data may also indicate that more companies are using optimized social content for campaigns meant to increase revenue generated from existing customers, rather than for campaigns aimed at new customers.

Who’s Taking Our Survey?

Most of our respondents work for small businesses: over 75 percent work for companies with 100 or fewer employees, and almost half of our marketers work for companies with 10 or fewer employees.

Social Optimization Employees.002

The majority of marketers who took our survey work for companies with relatively modest marketing budgets: 64 percent reported marketing budgets of less than $250,000.

Social Optimization Budget.003

We’ll continue to report the results of our Social Media Content Optimization Survey as they come in. If you haven’t completed the survey yet, lend your voice and take it today!

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Holly Regan

About the Author

Holly Regan is the Content Editor for Software Advice. Her work has appeared on many notable sites, including The New York Times, PRNews and oDesk. She has also contributed to works on top-tier publications such as Entrepreneur, the Wall Street Journal and Business Insider.

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