It’s the goal of every business to improve engagement between their branded pages and their social media fans, but that’s usually something that’s much easier said than done. On the other hand, year after year, new research is conducted into the elements that drive engagement on branded social media pages, and these findings almost always prove invaluable for businesses and bloggers alike. Below we’ll look at some of the latest engagement on Facebook research of 2014, and how these new discoveries can help you make the most out of your time and energy on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

1: Photos and Likes

Engagement On FacebookOf all the types of content posted on Facebook, including videos, status updates, links, albums, and photos, there’s one that stands far above the rest. If you haven’t guessed already, the answer is photos. In fact, according to a recent study by SocialBakers, photos account for approximately 3/4ths of all posts on Facebook, with status updates trailing at a mere 6%.

But one look at most branded pages would give you the opposite impression. Brands often rely on status updates because they’re cheap and easy to create, especially given the high demand for businesses to constantly produce new and interesting content for their fans. Photos aren’t just popular; they’re also the most engaging type of media. Where photos receive 87% of all interaction on Facebook, links, albums, videos, and status updates earn between 2% and 4% total engagement.

There are a few things to take away from this data. Hands down, photos are the best way to draw engagement from your readers, because they’re drastically easier to consume than text or even video content. But not just any photo will do — it’s important that you share photos which are of interest to your target demographic. Remember to include relevant links to send traffic back to your site along with image media. And if you run a social media team, it might be worthwhile to consider hiring a visual content creator to keep a steady supply of quality image content coming.

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2: Photos and Retweets

Due to the ephemeral nature of tweets, engagement for individual posts on Twitter has always been fairly low. A recent study by The Media Blog analyzed over two million tweets, trying to figure out what type of content elements draw the most engagement from readers. Surprisingly, much like with posts on Facebook, photo content handily took the day. The study found that including a photo URL in a tweet boosts user engagement by as much as 35%, with video URLs trailing at 28%, and quotes or posts containing digits between 17-19%.

Apart from incorporating more images into your tweets, it’s also a good idea to tag users in photos to increase the chance of creating conversations on Twitter. You can tag as many as 10 people in a photo on Twitter, and because these tags don’t contribute to the 140 character limit, it’s a good idea to take advantage of that feature whenever possible.

3: Comments and Shares vs. Likes

Facebook & TwitterFacebook likes have long been one of the most coveted and sought after social media metrics, but over the past year, comments and shares have started to become more prevalent. Adobe’s 2014 Social Intelligence Report found that branded Facebook comments have increased by more than 15% compared to last year, and more than 40% compared to last quarter. Meanwhile, Facebook likes have slightly decreased, which may indicate that users are becoming more discerning in selecting what content to like.

What does this mean for branded pages? Because commenting and sharing takes more time and energy than simply clicking a like button, this trend may indicate that marketers are becoming better at creating fan engagement. Fans may be finding more content that they believe is worthy of their time and interaction. In short, this study is an affirmation that content marketing and branded social media pages really are working.

The recent redesign of many social media elements to help brands engage with their followers may also be partially responsible. For example, back in March of last year, Facebook introduced a comment feature that allows you to reply to specific comments made on your page. Apart from being able to address fan questions and concerns more directly, this feature also allows you to tie together relevant conversations on your page. Additionally, replying to a fan creates a user notification, which shows your readers that you’re listening, and may in turn produce more comments.

4: Thank God it’s Friday

Engagement metrics have always favored weekends, but the latest research from the Social Intelligence Report has reaffirmed the value of weekends for branded social media content. According to the report, as many as 17% of all Facebook comments are written on Friday, and 16% of likes and shares for the entire week occur on the same day. Brands have long been shy about posting content on the weekend, if for no other reason than wanting to avoid working through the weekend, but this study provides one more good reason to break that bad habit.

Of course, not every social media audience is alike, so it’s important that you track and test your own experiences with posting through the weekends. Most businesses will find that posting on Friday and Saturday will create the most engagement with their content, but not every demographic is the same. If you don’t feel like working on the weekend, try getting your hands on some social media management software to automate post scheduling for you.