From stock photography to graphs, charts, and infographics, the types of images you can use to illustrate your blog posts are numerous. The question is: what types of images should you use?
I decided to analyze 41 blogs within different industries to help determine what types of images generate most social shares. This way you’ll know what kind of graphics you should use in order to generate the most traffic.
Here’s what I learned:
You’ve seen these images before. They usually look really generic like the image above.
The big mistake most bloggers make when using stock photography is that they use random images instead of ones related to their blog posts. Sure, it takes a bit more work to find relevant images, but it is worth the time.
On average, when a blog post used a stock photography image, it received 152 tweets and 83 Facebook likes.
Overall, posts featuring stock photography came in 5th in social sharing.
Use screenshots when you are describing a product. For example, when I wrote an article on the Quick Sprout Analyzer, I used screenshots of the application to explain my points.
In general, articles that used screenshots didn’t receive as many social shares as articles with stock photography did. The main reason for this is that most blog posts that contained screenshots tended to be more promotional, at least from my analysis.
Blog posts that used screenshots averaged 119 tweets and 46 Facebook likes.
The Oatmeal is a great example of a blog that uses hand-drawn images. From small custom graphics to comics, almost every image on The Oatmeal is hand-drawn.
Hand-drawn images are probably one of the more difficult image types to create as you need to have good illustration skills, but they get shared much more frequently.
They are shared so much more than other types of images that they came at number 2 on my list of image types you should use. On average, they received 318 tweets and 489 Facebook likes. What was interesting about the data is that it seems Facebook prefers hand-drawn images more than Twitter does.
Graphs and charts
Graphs and charts are my favorite types of images because I love data. Anything that helps prove a point is valuable, but it is rare to see these types of images.
Shockingly, posts with graphs and charts didn’t come in at number 1 on the list. They actually ranked 4th from a social sharing perspective. On average, they received 165 tweets and 93 Facebook likes.
When I was pulling data and analyzing different image types, I noticed that blog posts with graphs and charts received the highest number of trackbacks. On average, they received 258% more trackbacks than blog posts with other types of images.
Posts that contain data may not have mass appeal, but they are valuable from an educational and business perspectives. They attract the attention of niche blogs that link back to them. The data in these posts will continue to be valuable, so even after a few years, other blogs will still link to data-rich posts with charts, regardless of the posts’ age.
On Quick Sprout, next to stock photography images, the second most frequently used image type is infographics. I use them because I love them but also because they generate a lot of social shares.
They are so successful at generating social shares that I actually publish an infographic every single Friday. Not only does this help with traffic, but it generates a lot of natural backlinks, which helps boost my overall search engine traffic.
Infographics on average received 276 tweets and 262 Facebook likes. If you want consistent social traffic, consider publishing an infographic on your blog each week.
Royalty free images
The worst type of image you can use on your blog is a royalty-free image. Royalty-free images are like stock photography images but of lower quality.
You can usually find these types of images on sites like this one. You’ll notice that the quality of these images doesn’t compare to the quality of images from sites like Getty Images or Fotolia.
Sure, they are free, but you risk losing traffic if you use them over the other image types described in this post.
On average, royalty-free images generated 59 tweets and 13 Facebook likes.
Animated graphics, or animated infographics, generated the highest number of social shares of all the image types described above. The only issue with these graphics is that they are much more difficult to generate than any other image type. Not only are they usually hand-drawn, but they are also animated.
Not very many blogs use animated graphics, but those that do find that such posts perform extremely well. On average, animated graphics generated 551 tweets and 680 Facebook likes.
I used to create animated infographics on Quick Sprout, but I discovered that the cost of producing one was too high compared to the results it generated. These animated graphics didn’t do as well in the B2B sector as they did in the sector covering consumer-facing topics such as how a car engine works.
If you want to generate more traffic, your best bet is to start using hand-drawn or animated images within your blog posts. If you don’t have time to create those two image types, you can also try graphs, infographics, or stock photography. Just make sure you stay away from royalty-free images.
You can also test other image types such as 3-D graphics, which, given my analysis, should do well too. I just couldn’t find enough blogs that use them to provide actual data.
What image types do you use on your blog?