David Santy

David Santy Live Concert Producer and Audio Consultant
Madison, WI
David Santy

Why Facebook is Losing Photographers to Google+

May 29, 2012, by David Santy, category Social Media

In Why You Don’t Love Google+ (And Why You Should) I talked about how Google+ is more conducive to discovering and interacting with new people based on shared interests than Facebook. It’s due in part to Facebook’s terrible search feature, among other things. Naturally, this makes Google+ a better platform for creatives to showcase their work and to garner a following. Facebook has other disadvantages though, lagging behind other social media services in certain aspects. Many of these shortcomings may be contributing to why Facebook is losing photographers.

Facebook Timeline

Facebook Timeline

Facebook’s Timeline format for profiles and pages was a huge leap forward in the realm of imagery. The old format was mostly text driven, whereas Timeline is all about images. We all know that a picture is worth 1,000 words. This sentiment rings especially true when it comes to post engagement. People are drawn more to posts with big, beautiful images attached. When it comes to social media, most people are scanners, so a wall of words just doesn’t do the trick. Timeline is great for sharing images, yes, but where do people spend most of their time on Facebook, and where do they discover your posts first?

In the news stream of course.

This is what the news stream looks like on Facebook when sharing an image:

Facebook Image Preview

Image preview in Facebook stream

Now, take a look at what image sharing looks like on Google+:

Google+ Image Preview

Photo Credit: +David Edenfield www.davidedenfieldphoto.com

Those are both full size images from Facebook and Google+, respectively. Notice the difference? Holy freakin’ crap! The image thumbnail on Facebook is so tiny you have to squint to make out any details.

Click to Enlarge

Comparing the stream and the Timeline layout you almost can’t tell they come from the same site. If Facebook is trying to become a more image focused company (having paid a tidy sum for Instagram recently) why does their stream still look like this? The media sharing experience on Facebook isn’t consistent. Some image thumbnails appear larger in the Facebook stream than others, like the image on the right from Guy Kawasaki.

From stream to profile, Google+ displays image previews at the same dimensions. The entire post layout is identical. Google+ is clearly using screen real estate more effectively and has more consistency to their interface. If Facebook wants to compete with the likes of Google+ and Pinterest when it comes to photography, their news stream is going to need some work. My advice? Narrow the navigation bar, widen the stream content, and make image previews MUCH bigger. Show all image previews at the same size in the stream. Let’s hope some updates to Facebook’s stream are in the pipeline, aside from more creative ad placement.

Though I like Facebook Timeline, there are many users who avoid it like the plague, keeping themselves mostly to the news stream. With the tiny previews and the unsightly ad bar, the news stream doesn’t look so hot. If Facebook wants its service to be visually captivating, the news stream is definitely going to need a lot of work.

Update 6/12/12: Facebook has made some changes to their news stream and image previews are now much bigger. It’s about time!

Facebook Stream Image Preview

Image Share on Facebook Timeline

Image Share on Facebook Timeline

Update 7/04/12:

Oh, but what’s this?

This is an image I shared recently on Facebook. Notice something wrong with it? The sides of the image have been chopped off. Unlike Google+, or even their own news stream, Facebook doesn’t resize images properly on user’s Timelines.

Now, just for fun, let’s see what happens when I highlight the post:

Facebook Timeline Highlighted Post

Facebook Timeline Highlighted Post

Yup, even worse. Now, granted that image isn’t the ideal candidate for a highlighted post because it’s not in a wide landscape orientation. Still, users shouldn’t have to crop and change the canvas size on their images before uploading just to have them displayed properly. People want instant gratification, they shouldn’t have to click on the image to see the whole thing. Facebook needs to work on the way they resize images for Timeline, fitting for both height AND width, not one or the other.

Thanks for reading. Are you a photographer, whether pro or hobbyist? What is your favorite social media platform for sharing and why? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Related Posts:
Why You Don’t Love Google+ (And Why You Should)
What Google+ Means for Businesses


  1. Brian Joergens |

    As a photographer in New York City… I get way more work via Facebook than Google+. I use G+ for interaction and inspiration and Facebook for business. The Facebook update ticker on the side of the screen often generates extra hits for my images from new people as their friends Like and comment on my photography.

    • David Santy |

      Brian, thanks for your input. Aside from the news ticker, why do you think that is? I’ve heard from other photographers that leads from Facebook were drying up and Google+ was more fruitful for them. Perhaps they were relying more on CPC ads than organic shares and saw a reduction in ad clicks? (Love your photographs, btw.)