Social Media Rule #68 – The Value of Visuals

Text is boring.

That’s the central point of this post.  Sure, people can read all day long.  Some of us enjoy reading immensely, while others push on through the letters.  How many different things do we read in a given day?  LOTS.  Online articles, weather forecasts, text messages, emails, billboards, menus, and on and on.  But despite text playing an important role, it will always play second fiddle to the visual.  The visual photo that communicates a message in 5 seconds of viewing rather than 5 minutes of reading.  Visuals can range from the comic strip that makes us laugh to the logo design that makes us think.  Take the following comparison… (time yourself)

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Unless you’re a Vulcan, odds are you took in the same message much faster with the visual representation rather than the straight text.  And what drew your eye like a magnet?  I doubt it was the lines of text, but the contrasting colors of the visual.  Various studies have found that visuals keep a visitor’s attention longer than straight text.  They’re more likely to retain messages and information from these visuals too.

This is all getting back to social media and running effective campaigns.  A lot of campaigns eschew visuals and continue to churn out text line after text line.  That leads to shorter visits as viewers’ eyes close at the mountains of text on your website or social media profile.  There is nothing wrong with text up to about half of the time, but opportunities for visuals should be used at every opportunity.  Social media platforms love visuals and work to integrate them into posts.  Even the great visual holdout that is Twitter has finally joined the visual ranks over the past year.  YouTube is inherently visual as a video platform.  Facebook walks in both worlds, enabling users to post text messages, videos, photos, and article links.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help leverage the value of visual.

1.  You just posted about selling a house, having a great weekend, or giving a presentation.  Do you have a photo of that event to post on social media? Did you consider taking one at the time?  Photos are a fantastic way to bring a post to life.  Plus you can tag others in them to bring visitors to your page.

2.  You just linked to an article.  Is there a thumbnail image that you can add to your post? For Facebook, always preview the thumbnail feature to add a small image to the post.  These are usually mined from the linked url and help article links stand out.

3.  Share some videos!  You posted about a news stories, industry trends, or other relevant topic.  Can a video available somewhere on the Internet supplement your social media post? Consider mixing it up and linking to one every now and again.

4.  Do you have  to create all of your own visuals?  No you don’t!  It’s great to have an original photo, graphic design, or promo video every now and again, but if you can’t hire help, look around for existing content to share that illustrate what you’re already posting about.

Matt Cail

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