The importance of visual content to social media

October 21, 2014Uncategorized

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Ever since famous photographer Robert Capa captured images of war-torn battlefields and relayed them back for the entire world to see, we have understood that one image has the power to evoke within us an emotional response far greater than any sentence could hope to.

But in a world where so much of our lives are lived out on social media sites, particularly those driven by visual content, such as Facebook, Vine, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest, the question content strategists are now asking is: how do you make a picture worth a thousand shares?

The visual stays in the picture

Visual content is extremely important when building a brand’s social media channels, so you definitely need to take it into consideration when putting together a social media strategy.

Research shows that we are more likely to retain information if we’ve looked at it, rather than read it. 90 per cent of information transmitted to our brain is visual, which we process much faster than text. In fact, we actually only remember around 20 per cent of what we’ve read.

Think about it. When you log in to Facebook and begin scrolling through your news feed, the posts that catch your attention – and have you pressing the like or share buttons – are the photographs, videos and  memes, not the simple status updates about which random activity a “friend” is in the middle of doing. And do I even need to mention Pinterest and Instagram, which are all about sharing and re-pinning images, images and more images!

So if this is how we are interacting with the content on our own channels, surely the same can be said for our engagement with the content of the brands we follow. And that’s why visual content is key.

Creating engaging visual content on social media

In her article Visual Content: 5 Ways Auto Brands Help Audience Get the Picture, Shanna Mallon declares the internet to be a very visual place and offers the following tips for creating engaging visual content:

1. Ask your audience to contribute: Ah, user-generated content. One of the easiest ways of getting great visual content is to ask your followers to upload their own. It’s that simple. As a society we are obsessed with taking photographs of everything we do – and eat! Take advantage of this, as Mallon advises, by asking followers to post photos of themselves interacting with your products, along with a relevant hashtag.
2. Create videos: Sometimes it’s easy to forget visual content isn’t just about a well-Instagrammed photo. Videos are one of the most important types of visual content, getting shared 12 times more than links or text-based posts – unsurprising given we are of a generation raised on YouTube clips. If you don’t have the budget or are new to creating video content, jumping on board the Vine bandwagon. Designed specifically for social media, these six-second videos are short, inexpensive to produce, don’t have to be of the highest quality and are very shareable.
3. Use infographics: Infographics are a great way to share a lot of complex information without the enormous slabs of text – if they are well designed. For an infographic to be engaging, it should be simple and colourful with eye-catching graphics and easy to share. And not to toot our own horn, but here is a great example of an infographic done the right way.
4. Be active: It’s one thing to create a page or pinboard, but you need to dedicate the time and resources to making them into something substantial and current. I can’t imagine anything worse for a brand than having someone log on only to see out-of-date content – you’ll just look like you’re out of touch with the world.

So there you have it. It’s important to emphasise visual content on social media because ultimately that’s what we respond to. After all, how many times do you hear about a status update going viral?  You don’t – it’s the videos and photos that do.

Leigh Credlin – Editorial Assistant

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