A picture is worth a thousand words’

    –Unknown

Actually some unknown dude nailed it even before the term social media was coined or internet was incepted.

The thing is even if I describe to you what molten chocolate lava cake looks and tastes like, it still wouldn’t get your mouth watering as much as this picture:

choc(Image courtesy: PantryDIva)

Why Visual Content Is Important for Social Media

visual content

  • You only have a few seconds

I’m a busy person and so are you. Unless I’m planning upon reading a lengthy how-to blog, chances are I’m going to ignore text-laden posts.

But I rarely ignore images. And although I browse through images more than I watch videos, I definitely watch thrice more times video than I read text.

Point is all of us are busy, and all of us are multitasking. If you – whether as a company or an individual – want your content to be noticed you need to grab eyeballs within the first few seconds.

  • Visual content stands out

When you have less than 10 seconds to catch your reader’s eyes you need to put in your best efforts, even if it means dancing in a pink tutu.

From a list of monotonous text-heavy content, an image or a video link stands out.

In an eye mapping study on pizza by Moz.com SERPs listings with a video thumbnail drew the maximum attention.

heatImage courtesy: Moz)

The takeaway from this study is that if you put an image – even if it is the author’s image – next to your website link chances of it getting clicked on dramatically increases.

So it makes sense to learn about rich snippets and schema markups (link to schema article). A fish and chips deli website with a picture of its signature dish next to the link will rank higher on SERPs.

And this is the first step of the conversion funnel. Whether you are looking to get more traffic or make higher e-commerce sales, you need to grab your prospect’s attention with visual content first and then nurture them.

But note that attention worthy content needs to be creatively crafted and executed. With more than 2 million videos uploaded daily, any off the rack material won’t go viral.

  • Psychologically proven that images are more powerful than words

People process images 6000 times faster than they process text (Tweet this)

Also close to 90% of the information received by the brain is non-verbal, mainly visual followed by gestures.

Besides the instant way to communicate your message, images have a higher emotional connect.

show

And you tend to remember things that you saw more than the things that you read.

Visual content is a faster way to be processed, connect and to be remembered. (Tweet this)

I’m thinking Harry Potter wouldn’t have achieved cult status had it only been a book series. Although the book series in itself is pretty damn fantastic.

  • More Views

I’ve clicked on links talking about landscaping just because it had a cat meme as the thumbnail. Websites with visual graphics report a 94% viewership.

Even e-mails can get a boost of about 20% if it has a video embedded. (Tweet this)

Forget about click-through rate, any guesses on what is the likelihood of a prospect buying a product if the e-mail has an explainer video?

72%

And it’s not just videos.

One of the most important ways to get both more views and links to your website is through images (and in some cases short videos) on Pinterest and Instagram. With 300 million active users on Instagram alone you can reach out to millions with quality content.

  • Image-centric layouts

Well, Facebook did not introduce the timeline only because Zuckerberg likes change but mainly because image-centric layouts are the new norm.

With more and more social media platforms catering to visual content primarily, audience engagement has been on the rise. In fact, video and image engagement shot up by 65% post timeline introduction.

pin

At some point someone might have thought that hey a social media page where you can only upload picture? ‘Nah that’s not gonna work’ and cut to today where Instagram has given its own recent word addition to the dictionary.

And brides planning their entire wedding – right from the wedding trousseau to the wedding décor – through Pinterest and Vines are birthing their own league of internet celebrities, it’s safe to say visual is the in thing.

But does my business really need visual social media?

If you want to be in the now then sure, otherwise you can go back to eating at the last supper.

Visual content is social media’s secret and extremely potent weapon. Want to direct your reader’s attention in a content overloaded page? Use infographics to break up the monotone and communicate important points.

The internet has shifted from blogging to micro blogging and finally multi-media blogging. Not saying that longer texts aren’t important but that driving factor, the attention-grabbing technique is mainly visual.

How to drive more traffic through visual content?

  • Build a presence

From creating creative YouTube videos to beautiful Instagram images, build up an organic list of followers.

One easy way to do that is through add-backs. Hashtag keywords under your Instagram image to reach out to your targeted audience, also use some commonly used hashtags like ‘igers’ ‘webstagram’ etc.

Import your followers list from Pinterest to Instagram or from Facebook to Instagram through a giveaway or by giving then a discount when they follow your or repost your picture.

  • Link back

Even when you are posting an 8-page long blog post, put up a nice relevant thumbnail picture on Instagram and then link back to your blog.

Not just blog posts but you should also link back to your website through every type of visual content. If someone likes your image, there are 60% more likely to click on and read your post.

Also embed call to action within images like what Dylan Roof’s sister did, which – on a non-article related note – is dumb and insensitive.

kick

Share competitor’s content

Hey what, how’s that going to help me?’ you just thought that didn’t you?

When you retweet or share a post, you also attract your competitor’s followers. And given that this is your targeted set of audience, and you offer something they are already interested in (which is why they are following your competitors, you end up with more followers and ready prospects.

Regular contests and giveaways

Everyone love free stuff! And when you promise to give them a relatively valuable goody for free just for following/tagging/sharing/reposting an image people would jump at the chance.

They wouldn’t otherwise be so inclined to follow/tag/share/repost content.

swaroski

Everyone from Four Seasons Tony Hawk to Emirates has done that.

Stimulate curiosity and build relationships

Visual content is a way to give them a sneak peek and build curiosity.

Take a cue from Caitlyn Jenner who for months build up that curiosity around her recent transformation and finally created a social media ripple with the Vanity Fair cover page.

Also, you do connect with your audience emotionally through visual content but your aim should be to build customer trust and long-lasting relationships.