Videos vs. Photos: What Drives More Engagement

This article was written by Camille Nelson and published by Crossroads Professional Coaching


Social media is a great way to help get your message out. It helps you drive traffic to your website and build your brand by creating an emotional connection between your company and prospective clients. However, in today’s age, there are many conflicting opinions on how best to use different platforms to engage your audience.

Videos and photos are both powerful ways to connect with your customers. But which one is more effective? I recently conducted a poll on my Instagram asking followers what type of content they engage with most and why? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each medium so that you can make the best decision for your brand:

Video Pros

Videos are a great way to engage your audience and show off your products. They’re also much easier to share than photos, which makes them a great option for advertising purposes.

Captivating videos increase your accessibility and reach. It’s often hard enough to get people interested in what you’re selling, but the constant movement of video makes it easy to grab the scroller’s attention and engage with the content. In my recent Instagram poll, @maryclaude_ voted for videos because they make her feel as if she is a part of the moment and @anna_hinyub feels like she actually stops and watches videos in comparison to photos. Therefore, videos perform best in capturing a user’s curiosity.

Video is an incredibly persuasive tool for marketing. It can help introduce new products, demonstrate their function and benefits to the audience, and pique people’s interest in the company that produces them. @ce_landry LOVES Instagram reels when they’re creative. In other words, videos can be powerful tools for creating brand awareness and converting prospects into paying customers.

Video Cons

There are a few disadvantages of video as well. The most obvious one is cost: a good-quality video can be expensive to produce. And even if you’re just shooting a quick video on your phone, there’s still a lot of time involved in creating, editing, and then sharing it across your social media platforms.

What’s more is the constant struggle of the length of a video. While the main benefit is its ability to communicate a lot of information quickly, short 15-second videos can also be challenging to make your message clear and concise. @stephanie-sharrer feels longer videos take too long to get to the good part. A short, sweet video is the key to success.

Others might find the prospect of recording themselves or others intimidating; It’s hard to think about what words you want to say while holding a camera on yourself (or someone else), let alone thinking about how it’ll sound once it’s recorded! The good news is that once you’ve gotten over these hurdles, video content won’t seem so scary anymore.

Photo Pros

Photos have their own advantages, of course. They’re quick and easy to post, with only a few touch ups and adjustments and are usually cheaper than videos. Not to mention, they are easier to digest than a 2-minute video clip. To @mallory, photos are quicker to engage with and more simple. People can briefly scroll through their feed while liking image posts without having to stop or play a video clip.

Additionally, photos create an emotional response in users that lead to a higher retention rate and a more intimate relationship with followers. Photos create a unique interaction that videos cannot share. For example, @brendannick prefers photos because he likes to zoom in. Agreeably, @ce-landry enjoys them because she can dissect them more than she would a video.

Photo Cons

When it comes to driving engagement on social media, photos are not as effective. The fact is, videos are easier to watch. It’s much more difficult to scroll past a video than it is to swipe past an image. @anna-hinyub concurs that photos are repetitive which causes her to mindlessly scroll through them.

Additionally, videos are better for searchability—when someone searches for something specific on any platform, results that include video tend to show up higher in the search ranking than those that don’t. This makes it easier for users who want information about a topic or brand but aren’t sure what exactly they are looking for.

Videos vs Photos

So… is video or photo more effective in increasing engagement? The answer depends on what you’re trying to achieve. It’s important for you to understand what your goals are before starting any social media campaigns.

Determine how much time you can commit so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Just remember, the most important objective with any level of marketing is to be you! Show off the personality of your brand and team to create a unique and novel experience for your followers. If all goes well, your campaign will be a success whether it be video or photo.