Do photos and videos spark conversation and engagement on enterprise social networks?

“Static text is boring. No one reads it.”  

“Add a picture and everyone will like it.”   

“No  add a video. Videos are much more engaging than photos.  

I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of comments like these. The context for the advice is about how to get likes for content published on publicfacing social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.   

But does this advice apply equally in a work setting? We thought we’d take a closer look at what people are attaching in Yammer, and then measure the impact it has. Let’s start first with how we define what an attachment is. We’ve broken attachments into the following categories:  

  • File (pdf, Microsoft Office file etc etc) 
  • Image (jpeg, png etc) 
  • Video (mp4, mov etc) 
  • Link (URLs) 
  • Other (remaining attachments not covered by the above) 
  • No attachment 

To ensure we have data representing organisations that have proven themselves as ‘best in class’, we selected a set of top performing organisations from SWOOP’s global Yammer benchmarking dataset for further analysis. 

After reviewing the initial results, we decided to exclude the ‘Link’ and ‘Other’ categories. The ‘Link’ category includes any URL, which means it can also include URLs to videos OR images. However, since we can’t consistently determine if the URL is pointing to an image, video, PDF file, or something else, we felt it was better to exclude this category entirely. We also excluded messages that included multiple attachment types to ensure we can isolate the impact each type has.  

To determine ‘impact’ we have chosen to look at the number of replies and likes each message received. After this initial filtering, our analysis included a total of 116,604 messages which received a total of 221,225 replies and 1,156,161 likes.  

Distribution of attachment types

As the pie-chart below shows a large majority of messages posted do not have any attachments. For those ones that do have an attachment, the most popular type is an image. 

We were surprised to find videos make up such a small proportion of messages, but it could be due to the 100mb upload limit in Yammer.

Also, and perhaps more importantly, the exclusion of the ‘Link’ category means that links to video content is not included. Based on our own observations this appears to be a popular way of sharing these (e.g stored on YouTube or SharePoint or other repository). The recent introduction of ‘live video’ in Yammer where the video file is subsequently stored in Microsoft Stream has also not been included.

Therefore, we’d suggest the proportion of video content is bigger than what is represented in the pie-chart. Having said this, the 1% still represents almost 1,000 messages with a video attachment so we feel there’s plenty of data for us to derive insights from.  

So, here is what we learned about the impact it has when you choose to add an attachment to a message in Yammer: 

Impact of attachments


It is clear from the table above that ‘spicing up’ a message with just about any type of attachment makes a substantial difference.

Files get fewer likes, but other than that you’re pretty much guaranteed more replies and likes with an attachment. It also should be noted that even though the proportion of video is likely higher than the pie-chart suggests, we feel comfortable that the average number of replies and likes would not be dependent on the repository of choice (Yammer, Stream, SharePoint or YouTube etc).  

Based on these insights it would be tempting to recommend that anyone interested in increasing the number of replies and likes simply add an attachment to the message. However, the data we’ve included in this analysis is all from ‘high performers’ with a strong collaborative culture, and therefore represents the impact attachments have in an optimal context.

As such, it represents what ‘good looks like’, and the type of engagement you can aspire to achieve. If your organisation is struggling with low employee engagement and a poor collaborative culture then we doubt attachments will be the answer to your woes.  

What is particularly pleasing about the impact of attachments for our high performers is the average number of replies also increases when attachments are used.

This suggests attachments are not just attracting eyeballs (likes) but are leading to more conversation (replies). This conversational aspect of attachments is important to highlight as there is an inherent risk of becoming too focused on simply broadcasting a message supported by visually appealing content, while ignoring the desire for people to connect directly with the people behind the content. If your organisation is seeing a lower number of replies than outlined in the table above it is most likely caused by people going into ‘broadcasting mode’. This does not deliver as much business benefit as a conversation-based network.  

We suggest there are ways in which you can make posts more engaging without adding images and video.

Based on previous research we’ve conducted on the impact of asking questions, we know asking a question leads to 150% more replies. Also, when you @ mention a person it increases the reply rate by 73%. This means there is ample opportunity to contribute to your enterprise social network without adding an attachment, and still deepen the conversation.  

Here at SWOOP we’re all about figuring out what particular behaviours are contributing to making both individuals and organisations better at collaborating.

Energised by this piece of research, we’ll be working on adding these insights to the SWOOP platform so you can see the impact your attachments have.

Are you able to replicate the success of our high performers? With the data at hand that allows you to measure the impact you’re having today, we believe you are in a far better position to improve in the future.  

Happy posting – with or without attachments! 

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