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Why do we like pictures of people?

Why do we like pictures of people?

When we share images online, whether as part of a social media post or a feature image for a blog, we often follow the advice that including a human face is likely to result in your post attracting more attention.

The same is true with video thumbnails. If you look at any of the most popular YouTubers, you’ll probably find that almost all of their videos feature a picture of themselves in the thumbnail. Is this just vanity, or is there a more specific reason why they do this?

According to a 2014 study, posts containing images of people’s faces are 38% more likely to receive likes, and 32% more likely to generate comments. Perhaps surprisingly, the study notes that there is minimal difference to these figures regardless of the age or gender of the face, nor the number of faces in the image, suggesting that all faces are able to connect with us on social media in some way.

This is perhaps not surprising, as faces and facial expressions are a primary form of non-verbal communications. As babies, before we even understand spoken words, we form a connection with faces and understand feelings by looking at them. They are an instantly recognisable way of recognising a sentiment.

When we post something on social media, there is usually an emotion behind it, whether it’s happiness, disappointment, frustration, contentment or shock. A way to get the viewer to share this sentiment is using an image of somebody conveying it, thereby setting the tone for your content. There’s a reason why adverts for products like furniture and mobile phones that are supposed to make your life easier and happier always feature people smiling, and why ads for discount goods often have people with their eyes wide open in amazement at the low prices – the advertisers want you to feel the same way.

Consider the emotion you want your followers to feel when posting on social media, and how images can help you with this. For more advice on content and its accompanying imagery, get in touch with us at Engage Web.

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray

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