It’s no secret that visuals play a big role in whether or not people decide to read your content. Psychology Today says the part of the brain used to process words is quite small in comparison to the part that processes images. Because of this, visuals have been used throughout the decades to support learning, marketing, and calls to action in the media.
As we’ve been able to see in the 21st century, image-centric social media sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube have taken visual marketing to new levels. An image first phenomenon in the media shows how visuals really do matter for media consumers.
But here’s the catch for marketers and media pros: the content must actually deliver the substance your visuals suggest.
In 2015, Millward Brown Digital partnered with Pinterest to conduct research on folks who have actively used Pinterest in the past six months. The study found that 96% of respondents reported they use Pinterest to research and gather information. 93% reported that they use Pinterest to plan their purchases, and another 87% reported Pinterest engagement helps them decide what to buy.
The Simply Measured Q3 2014 Instagram Study reveals the average engagement per post has grown by 416% over the same time period two years before.73% of brands on the network post at least one photo or video per week on Instagram. This was a 35% increase from 2012. Today in 2016, this figure has surely grown even more.
YouTube’s statistics show the platform has over one billion users — almost one-third of all people on the internet today. Growth in watch time on YouTube has accelerated and has been up at least 50% year-over-year for three consecutive years. The number of people watching YouTube per day has grown by a staggering 40% since March 2014.
Not only from visual-sharing social media, the effect of visual marketing can also be felt on social media sites that facilitate — but perhaps don’t exclusively focus on — image-sharing, like Facebook and Twitter. According to Business 2 Community, 87% of a Facebook Page’s engagement happens on photo posts, while Tweets with images receive 150% more Retweets.
Here are a few tips to remember when using visual aides to get your message out there.
Customize images for different social media
Blogs, social media, online comics, and more. There are many options out there to deliver your message to the audience. Social media represents many diverse pockets of audience demographics. For this reason, it’s important to tailor the image and message to make sure you reach the specific group of people you’re targeting.
Pew Research Center recently analyzed the demographics of social media users. According to the report, 25% of male respondents claim to use Twitter, while interestingly only 21% of women still do. On the other hand, 44% of women claim to use Pinterest, while only 16% of men can say the same. There are many other key indicators in the analysis too, such as income level, age, education, and more.
Pulling intel from this kind of analysis, make sure to customize your visuals to different social media and the different audience segments that are most active on each one.
It’s worthwhile to team up with a designer
Simply put, your information and ideas are more attractive to the audience if they’re presented as infographics. Reading infographics let the audience absorb and remember information more easily than if it were presented in plain text. For this reason, it will undoubtedly be worth your time to partner up with an ace designer.
If you’re bootstrapping it, however, there are a number of sites out there to help you create infographics independently and without needing experience, such as Canva, Easel.ly, Visme, and Venngage. Piktochart also lets you start for free.
Let the images provoke questions
Despite being a cliche, the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” really does hold up. Odds are, you could write a 10,000-word narrative and still not be able to fully encapsulate the life and times of the women shown in the image above. Use images that have meaning and are creatively in touch with humanity.
Recently, there was a series of viral sketches that have been trying reflect how today’s technology has changed the way people behave. One of the sketches is a comparison of previous years when people spent time playing at the beach and today’s scene where people are focused on their smartphones at the beach. This image has been shared on social media worldwide, and captures an ironic truth about our society.
The same thing also applies to video. Thai commercials to promote simple products that use more complex stories are a good example. Those commercials tell stories that teach life lessons with only a few seconds to reveal the brand at the very end of the video. The key is to use emotionally provocative situations and images.
Invest in clever video
Another way to up the viral potential of your video campaign is with a hot issue or event. Big brands have done it, such as Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign and WestJet’s Christmas Miracle video. In fact, if you can, try to convince people to participate in the campaign. It’s far more likely to be shared due to the network effect phenomenon, like the Ice Bucket Challenge (an oldie but goodie).
No substitute for comedy
If heart-touching scene doesn’t suit your style, try humor instead. There are many formats you can play with, including GIFs, memes, short comics, and more. Pay attention to who your audience is so you can make sure your humor is appropriate for them.
In Indonesia, there were a high number of memes and short comics developed from the recent horror film “The Conjuring 2” just after the movie was released. Ever since the film’s debut in the archipelago, locals have been sharing silly memes all over social media. This is just one example of how media pros can use current events and trending topics to produce simple images that get a ton of shares.