Take a look at your Facebook News Feed and tell me what you see — there’s a good chance that it’s full of funny memes, pictures of cute dogs, or screencaps from popular movies or TV shows.
Say what you will about humanity, but if there’s one thing that both science and experience have taught me, it’s that we really love looking at things.
(This is the part where I bombard you with numbers — only so that we won’t have to do this later, so I hope you stick with me a bit longer here!)
- Findings from the Social Science Research Network show that 65% of human beings are visual learners.
- A study by 3M Corporation reveals that 90% of information that goes into the brain is non-verbal.
- Non-verbal communication constitutes about 93% of all human communication, says psychologist Albert Mehrabian.
- The SAGE Handbook of Political Communication says that the brain takes 1/10th of a second to process visual information — 60,000 times faster than the rate it processes text. It does this for 50% of all information gathered by our visual receptors (according to E.N. Merieb and K. Hoehn’s Human Anatomy and Physiology, 7th edition).
Furthermore, studies on social media usage reveal some interesting statistics on visual content across social media platforms that social media managers would certainly want to take note of. (More numbers — yay!)
- In 2014, there was a 75% increase in the number of Facebook video posts per person across the globe — and a 94% increase in the United States alone.
- According to HubSpot, adding compelling visual elements to an article has been shown to increase engagements from targeted customers by up to 37%.
- A study by Socialbakers.com revealed that posts with pictures experienced the most engagement, comprising about 87% of overall interactions.
- A report by MDG advertising states that adding graphics and engaging visual elements to your elements can result in a 94% increase in view count; additionally, press releases with photos were viewed 14% more, while those with both photos and videos experienced a 48% increase in view count.
Now that we’ve spent a bit of time looking at the numbers, let’s get to the meat of today’s discussion: Visual marketing, and how it can be applied to your social media pages.
Visual marketing encompasses all visual content that you can share on social media to tell your brand story. It can be infographics, videos, photographs, illustrations, or even the design elements on your pages. With the right visual elements for your social media pages, you can leave a lasting impression on your target audience and encourage engagement.
Here are some of the most significant reasons why your social media pages will benefit from being infused with great visual marketing elements.
1. Great visual content will help you stand out from the crowd.
Can you imagine just how many brands you’re competing with on a daily basis? Millions of users upload videos, share photos, and post updates on their social media accounts every day — and that includes businesses, too! Think about it: Would your brand be able to stand out in a sea of updates if all you’ve got to offer your audience are walls upon walls of text? There’s a principle of storytelling that I really like — “Show, don’t tell.” If you’re running a restaurant, for example, which approach do you think would be more effective in convincing your audience that your food is excellent: Telling them in a 200-word, adjective-laden status update, or simply uploading an album of your delicious offerings?
2. Visuals are easier to understand.
As I’ve already shown earlier in this blog post, visual elements are more easily absorbed and processed by the human brain than enormous walls of text. I’m sure even you’d agree that it’s a bit more challenging to get a message that you need to read paragraphs of text just to grasp — doubly so if you’re in a hurry and the brand has all of one or two seconds to get you to understand what it’s trying to tell you. A great visual is information in an easy-to-digest capsule; it’s your message simplified to the point where all the user has to do next is to take action.
3. Visuals influence human emotions and decision-making.
Visual make people feel things. Whether it’s an overwhelming feeling of fuzzy warm goodness over a photo of a kitten and a baby owl making friends, nostalgia at the sight of an old movie or TV show that they used to watch in their youth, or pride (and the so-called “restoration of faith in humanity”) over viral photos of heroic acts, visual content elicits specific emotions from your audience, eventually compelling them to take action.
4. Great visual content can bring in tons of followers, likes, shares, and leads.
Any social media strategy will benefit from a well-developed visual marketing plan, simply because it can and will show results. If your content goes viral — which means that if a lot of users share your infographic, photo, or video — it’s nearly a guarantee that you’ll see a boost in your number of followers thanks to the increased shares, likes, and comments as it brings your content to a much wider and diverse Internet crowd. Thus, virality means more followers, which in turn means more leads for your brand.
Virality is a good goal to aim for in your social media strategy. However, it’s really a hit or miss kind of deal. Here are some pointers that you might find helpful in successfully making your visual marketing campaign on social media go viral:
Make sure that your visuals are appropriate for your brand and content.
- The format matters, too – consider whether you need an infographic, a photo, or some other type of visual content.
- Don’t be afraid to inject a little humor into your content.
- Base your content on your target audience’s needs and preferences.
- Find out the ideal times of day to post your content.
- Don’t try to overcomplicate the campaign. Remember, aim for compelling, not confusing.
5. Visual content encourages engagement and can develop brand loyalty.
Updates with photos and videos are much more likely to be shared by your followers than simple text updates. As a matter of fact, your interesting visuals are a significant factor in helping you keep your audience. By making your message easier to understand through visual content, your audience is more likely to stay on your page and gain a better grasp of your value proposition and what you can do for them that others can’t.
Visual marketing is hardly rocket science; in fact, social media has been a significant part of it for quite some time already. It has been used by many brands over the decades and has been proven to be quite effective. With great visual marketing, you can make sure that your message gets into your audience’s heads — and that you won’t bore them out of their skulls.
Liz Azyan is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society. Get involved with Liz’s latest project here.