Importance of Images on Social Media in 2023

By Matic Broz, editor-in-chief of Photutorial covering stock media, Adobe, and design. He founded Photutorial while finishing his PhD in computational biosciences.

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It’s been repeatedly shown that images are a crucial part of any social media campaign. Using superb images is one of the easiest ways to increase the success of your social media posts immediately. Let’s look at why we post pictures on social media.

Why do we post pictures on social media?

1. Images increase engagement

By using photos on social media, you will attract more engagement. This can increase your revenue, as people are more likely to like, comment, and share your posts.

The statistic that proves the importance of photos on social media comes from Facebook (2014 data): posts that include visual content (images or videos) get 65% higher engagement. Newer research, however, showed that Facebook posts with images get 2.3x more engagement than those without images.

Similarly, tweets with images receive 35% more retweets than tweets with no visual content. Also, don’t forget that you can share up to 4 photos in one tweet and tag up to 10 people.


Using high-quality images on social media boosts engagement, helping you grow your social media accounts and generate new leads.

2. Images are memorable

People remember 80% of what they see, 20% of what they read, and 10% of what they hear. So, your readers are 4 times more likely to remember your posts with images or infographics.

Although people remember only 10% of the information, they hear after three days, pairing that information with images increases the retention rate to 65%.

Key takeaway: people are more likely to remember information paired with images.

3. Images drive sales

According to Pinterest Business, Pins that show product or service images in action are 67% more likely to drive sales. Also, 58% of people say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it on Instagram Stories. For that reason, over 500 million Instagram accounts use Stories every day, and 4 million businesses use Stories ads every month.

Key takeaway: upload images of your products or services, preferably in action.

What images work best on social media?

What images will work best for your business on social media depends on your goals. Most companies use branded images, stock photos, or personal photos. Let’s explain which is best in each situation.

1. Branded images

Best for: Increasing sales.

Research shows that brand images get the most engagement when they show a person interacting with the product. Interestingly, partial body images (such as hands) performed 29% better than images with a whole person and 10% better than images without a person.

Such images better convey how the product is used, so consumers can imagine themselves interacting with the product.

On the other hand, images without a person receive the most comments, because consumers try to understand how the product works.

Example of a branded image

2. Stock photos

Best for: Graphic designs, infographics, and other educational content.

Using stock photos is quite controversial, and some businesses refuse to use them. However, we found that they have their place and advantages.

  1. They are cheaper. An alternative to using stock images is hiring a professional photographer or taking them yourself. Either way, you’ll spend hundreds of dollars compared to stock images, costing $0.14 ($1 on average).
  2. They are easier to get. Instead of dealing with a photographer or traveling abroad, you hop on a stock photo site and download images within 2 minutes.
  3. A larger selection of images. Large stock agencies have collections of hundreds of millions of stock images.
  4. Exceptional quality. Stock photos are taken by professional photographers and reviewed by experts. If you pick one of our recommended stock photo sites, you will always get the best quality.

You can save up to 90% of your budget by handpicking stock images while getting the same results.

3. Personal photos

Best for: Building trust and rapport with customers.

Many businesses share photos representing their everyday lives, either at home or at work. This shows the customers that real people are behind the product or the social media account, which builds a rapport. And as you already know, connecting with your customers leads to more sales and higher satisfaction.

Example of a personal image

Where can I find pictures for social media posts?

While you need to take branded and personal photos yourself (or hire a photographer), stock photos are available online. We recommend reading our resource Best stock photo sites, but we’ll also list the best places for images for social media.

1. Adobe Stock

Why? Adobe Stock is integrated into Creative Cloud, which lets you browse all its assets, including images and videos, directly from Adobe applications. So, if you’re using Adobe software, Adobe Stock is the best choice to get images and edit them on the go.

2. Shutterstock

Why? Shutterstock is the largest provider of stock images, with almost 400 million images in its collection. You should get it if you need cheap subscriptions or inexpensive Enhance license options (for larger campaigns). It can also be integrated with Creative Cloud.

3. Canva

Why? It is like Adobe and Adobe Stock but cheaper and easier to use for beginners. In addition, you get unlimited access to all Canva assets for $9.99/month, which is a great price compared to other stock photo sites. But, pros will miss advanced features.

4. Depositphotos

Why? Depositphotos is smaller than Shutterstock or Adobe Stock, but its small subscription plans are more affordable. This makes it an excellent choice for those who need fewer images, such as up to 50 per month.

5. iStock

Why? iStock is comparable to other stock photo agencies in terms of classic stock photos but is better for premium images. Premium content costs more, but at iStock, you can uniquely get it with subscriptions, which considerably drives down the price.

6. Unsplash

Why? Unsplash is the best free source of stock photos, with over 2 million in their collection. Yet, using free images is always risky, as they don’t come with any legal backing. So, we recommend using paid stock photos for commercial uses.

Price: Free

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of photos should you post on social media?

Colorful photos representing products or social events usually perform the best on social media. To ensure greatest exposure, make sure the images are not blurry and that composition is on point. If necessary, hire a professional photographer.

What photos get the most attention?

Customer photos, product shots, behind-the-scenes photos, employee social events, and before and after photos get the most attention. Ensure the images don’t look staged and that people look happy.


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