Colorful floating umbrellas

Why a picture is worth 1,000 words

— Emily Benning, VP - Digital Consulting 

People retain 10 percent of what they HEAR; 20 percent of what they READ; and 80 percent of what they SEE

Content with visuals gets 94 percent more total views

Visual content is now 40 times more likely to be shared on social networks

Most of us are visual learners, myself included. In one of WE’s recent Learning & Development sessions, I joined Kristen Russell, content strategy manager, and Meghann Wittstock, graphic designer, on a panel to discuss the topic of “Visuals in Social Media” as part of an ongoing series around digital strategies. We covered how visuals have changed social media, considerations for making impactful visual content and design recommendations.

Let’s take a step back…
Visuals have evolved along with the evolution of social media. With more social media advancements erupting each year, visuals are being used to attract attention and help readers retain information more than ever before. It started with blogs that were used to share stories in long-form content, which included images to attract viewership. Later, Facebook enabled people to connect and share shorter posts with broader communities – and then evolved its algorithm to place a higher importance on posts with images. Then Twitter emerged, further condensing character restrictions and creating a stronger need to use visuals to share more information in a limited space.

As social platforms emerged, mobile consumption has grown in tandem. Currently 56 percent of digital media is consumed on mobile smartphones and tablets with 72 percent of mobile users utilizing their device to access social media. This has created a greater need for using visual content across social platforms as a way to easily capture mobile viewers’ attention. Today, visuals are not only heavily used on traditional social media platforms, but are the primary form of communication for newer platforms: Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and SnapChat.

Now that I have made the case for why you want to include visuals in your content, let me leave you with these tips for impactful visuals:

The best visuals….

  • Get your content noticed: They’re unique, authentic, and try something new.
  • Illustrate and clarify your content: They drive home an important point or story.
  • Humanize your brand: They create an affinity with your brand that is likeable, valuable, helpful or relatable to your audience
  • Make your content “sticky”: They make your visual content land and make people want to share it.
  • Extend the value and reach of your content: They provide additional information and engagement.

When choosing your visuals, remember…

  • Take the time to find an image that works for your needs.
  • Make sure you have the rights to the image.
  • Don’t feel that you have to use the entire photo or video.
  • A bad image can do more harm than good.
  • Text can be an image as well: Play around with background, font and color to make your own visuals.

As the importance of images and videos continues to increase, a strong understanding of what makes a good visual and when to use one will become an even more critical element for effective communications. So remember to include great visuals in your content that tell your story and relate to your audience, especially since people retain 80 percent of what they see.