Here is Why You Should Ditch Photos for Text Posts on Social Media

The tendency towards overloaded designs that distract and slow down audiences can undermine a post’s intention.

No doubt, visuals can help grab attention and give your post personality, but in most cases it’s the actual text that communicates facts and data.  

Research shows how images make information more digestible, but many forget about the importance of the actual copy which still matters...more than you think.

The tendency towards overloaded designs that distract and slow down audiences can undermine a post’s intention.

No doubt, visuals can help grab attention and give your post personality, but in most cases it’s the actual text that communicates facts and data.  

We analysed a half dozen brands’ Instagram profiles that publish both type and photo posts to really drive home this idea and here are the results:

CASE STUDIES

If your message is informative, yet simple and easy to digest, it can deliver more engagements than just a photo.

We analysed a half dozen brands’ Instagram profiles that publish both type and photo posts to really drive home this idea. (based on the last 20 typographic and 20 photo posts on 27.06.2016)

  1. Headspace (125k followers) 
    A great example demonstrating the impact of a typographic message versus image with captions. Their brief factual statements on average get twice as much engagement as pure imagery. 
    •  1,271 likes per image with text messages
    •  598 likes per no-text image
     
  2. Boots (261k followers)  
    Fun messages and beautiful typography led to high engagement levels over six times more than imagery
    •  101 comments per quote
    •  16 comments per photo
     
  3. Dove (144k followers)  
    Again, beautiful typographic solutions with relevant messaging wins over photography, approximately double the engagement
    •  1,457 likes per text post
    •  787 likes per photo post
     
  4. BBC News (2.2m followers)  
    Photo posts show high engagement of 6,232 likes per post, but informative typographic messages overlaid with photos still perform better - 6,896 likes per post.
     
  5. Yoga inspiration (1.2m followers)  
    Yoga Inspiration publish the mix of beautiful photos and not so beautiful but inspirational typography. And guess what? Posts with messages overlay win again - 14,158 likes per post comparing to 8,784 likes per photo post. 
     
  6. House of Fraser (52.1k followers)  
    Despite the majority of posts being photos, thumbnails with quotes performed 1.7 times better than pure imagery.

 

STRATEGY

Based on the analysis of a few dozen brands’ Instagram profiles, outlining the following strategy on publishing successful text driven posts:

•  Identify your target audience and craft messages useful or interesting for them.
•  Make sure your copy is brief, simple, and jargon-clear.
•  Post consistently.
•  Use images as a visual aid to grab viewers’ attention.
•  Follow the rules of typography (detailed below) to make your post easy to read.

 
TYPOGRAPHY

While the copy delivers the message, typographic laws of hierarchy, white space, font combination, scale, weight and colour serve as an aid for the message to be seeing and read.

So, what do you have to pay attention to in typography to craft a visually appealing post with a message?

  1. Hierarchy
    Hierarchy is needed to organise type to indicate the structural order of importance of your message.
    In the example above, text has 3 levels of hierarchy:
    • Main message in Upper Case and larger font indicating its importance;
    • Website name, also Upper Case, but smaller type, is the second point the viewers’ eyes move to - which is of great value for brand recognition;
    • Source, being a necessary but least important contextual part of a message, written in Sentence Case and even smaller font size.
       
  2. Scale, case, font weight
    The good use of scale, case and font weight make type stand out in a busy environment, and help achieve clearer hierarchy.
    In our example, only one typeface is used, yet clear visual content separation is achieved by the subtle shifts in size, weight, and case.
     
  3. Whitespace / negative space
    Whitespace is often overlooked or taken for granted, but is absolutely crucial in improving legibility, clarifying relationships and drawing attention to the message.
    The Headspace post, again, is a good illustration of how to give text space to breathe on both macro and micro levels. Macro whitespace includes margins and padding around the text blocks; they frame the post and create a comfortable entry point to the message. Micro whitespace is achieved with the line height, kerning and tracking; they help for the eye to track from one line to the next and improve readability.
     
  4. Colour
    Using colour in typography is a great way to to create contrast with a background, to separate or link elements together, or to highlight important bits in your message.
    In our example, font colour is part of the composition of the post, with dark blue linking text and graphics to indicate those belong together, and white being used to make essential parts of the message stand out.
     
  5. Legibility and readability
    Legibility measures how easy it is for the reader to see the text and distinguish letters from one another. Readability, on the other hand, measures how inviting the whole text is for the reader to look through.
    To achieve legibility and readability, Headspace picked a typeface that is comfortable to read, with large X-height and large counter spaces, and used it against a comfortably contrasted background.
     
  6. Choosing and combining typefaces
    Whether using one typeface or combining typefaces, to create text hierarchy, it is important to create visual contrast between heading, subheading, body copy, etc. It can be reached with a different colour, case, weight and size combination for a single-font solution; or combining stylistically contrasting typefaces.

Typographic posts should be considered as you review your social media strategy. Just remember to be consistent and informative / motivational, and you may find experimenting with type-based posts will outperform imagery-based posts by miles.

What have you observed around engagement in your text versus imagery posts? Would love to hear your comments below.

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About the author
Anastasiia is a Senior Designer at The 7th Chamber where she's developed their online identity and has helped shape visuals supporting large-scale branded content campaigns.