social media marketing

Power of Visual Communication – Pictures Vs Words

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is not relegated to school going children anymore but commonly observed among adults, especially with those on Social Media. With a recent survey pegging human attention span online at 8 seconds, we can safely say that we have an attention span less than that of a Goldfish (which has 9 seconds). Given this restlessness among social media consumers, brands have to vie for attention in a way that grabs mind space in just a few seconds. The only way to achieve this is to communicate visually rather than textually. After all, a picture tells a story just as well as, if not better than, a lot of written words. Its important for brands to recognize this and adapt their communications to rely more on visuals.

Growth of Visual Social Media

Instagram, the photo based app, has been the latest growth story in the world of Social Media with the app reaching 800 million users overall and 500 million daily users. Instagram is now well ahead of Twitter, the microblogging media that relies on words rather than pictures. Over 40 Billion pictures & videos have been shared on Instagram till date and videos get twice the engagement of pictures.

Facebook, the largest Social Media platform with over 2 Bn users worldwide, gets about 510 K comments, 293 K status updates, and 136 K photos uploads every minute. Of these, posts with images or videos get 30%-40% more engagement (likes, comments, shares) than text only posts.

Pinterest is another social media that is image based exclusively and has about 150 million users worldwide. But the more interesting aspect of Pinterest is that almost 80% of users are females, making this medium very attractive for B2C brands. Over 5% of referral traffic to websites are generated via Pinterest making this a great source for building backlinks and site traffic.

Facebook Ads limit text content

Recognizing the power of visuals and the aesthetic appeal of pictures over words, Facebook frowns upon text in its ads and advises to limit text to only 20% of the canvas. Whether the ads use images or videos, if the text content is heavy, they do not get wide reach on the Facebook ad network. Research indicates that we tend to notice images on a page first, then bolded words and then finally the regular text. Facebook, through its data analysis, claims that visual ads perform way better than text ads and visual ads with little or no text cost the advertisers way less in terms of cost per clicks (CPC).

How to Leverage Visuals

So what does all the hype about visuals mean to you as a brand on Social Media? How do you take advantage of this curious psychology of social media users? Visual posts do not mean posting pictures of your products day in and day out. It works only when the product sold is either clothing, jewellery or such design oriented items. If the product you sell is a Service or a not very design friendly item like an Earth Digger, product posts alone will not get you the reach that you desire.



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This image here is an example of how you can design a social media post – a simple and succinct copy of the message you want to convey accompanied by a visual.

Here are some guidelines on designing a good social media visual:

  • Keep the creative simple and clutter free. Do not try to add too much information in a single post.
  • Make the image bright by adding colours, bold text or arresting images
  • Remember to add your logo/website/phone number on the image since the images might be shared outside of the channel you posted in originally. Many times images from Facebook or Twitter get shared on Whatsapp so having these identifiable marks on the image gives credit where it is due.
  • Keep it aesthetically appealing and simple. Adding too many colours or fonts make the post look cluttered and unappealing.

Does all this mean you need a graphic designer to create your content? Not necessarily. Small businesses will find it too expensive to employ designers to create their everyday social media posts. There are many Free design tools available that will make the job of creating these posts simple. More on that later.

A picture is worth a thousand words is a common saying. In Social Media though a picture might be worth a thousand shares.




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