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Beyond the Word: Why Visual Content Matters in Communication

The numbers don’t lie when it comes to visual content in communications.

  • A 2014 study of more than 72,000 Facebook pages shows that visuals, including video and photos, generate the highest levels of engagement among users
  • A multimedia news release that includes imagery garners 94 percent more views than those that don’t

Do a quick Google search and you’ll find plethora of other statistics illustrating that visual content beats out text every time.

The phenomenon raises an important question for marketers and PR professionals: Are your viewers averse to reading or is there something more to the attraction of imagery? The answer might surprise you, as there’s proof that humans are hardwired to interact when presented with imagery.

Glasses-Visual

Our brains were made for visual content: Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text and combine with memory, emotion and understanding. As a result, images provide meaning far beyond what the other senses deliver.

Visuals increase understanding: We can read about how to do something or operate a device, but we comprehend topics more thoroughly when we have images or video to supplement them. In communications, concepts are more accessible to our brains when presented visually.

Imagery appeals to journalists. In a recent survey of 300 media professionals, 54 percent responded that they were more likely to review a multimedia press release than one that was entirely text. When you’re trying to gain the attention of journalists for PR, visuals are imperative.

Want to learn more ways to build relationships with influencers? Check out the “PR Starter Kit” for pitching tips and more!

Images inspire sharing. Think about how many times you’ve seen a text-based article go viral – and compare that to cute kitten photos, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or infographics. A study of more than 100 million different online posts found that articles with at least one image were shared twice as much on Facebook and Twitter when compared to text-only shares.

It’s one thing to understand the science behind our attraction to images, but it’s another to actually see it in action. Verizon does a great job at proving how visuals are vital to communications.

Verizon’s Latest Campaign: “A Better Network as Explained by a Door”

Verizon-Ad

The scene opens with an animated overhead shot of a crowd milling about, then perking up as they rush to access their telecommunications network through a metaphorical door. But they can’t all fit through at once, so the characters start piling up at the congested entry. The ad is symbolic of a failure that occurs due to over-trafficking. The door eventually widens to represent the reliability of the Verizon network, and everyone flows through smoothly.

Go back and read that paragraph again. How well does it convey the urgency of glitches in communications services resulting from an overcrowded network? Now, check out the video ad. When you see people piling up at the door, you a better sense of the exigency that they’re feeling as the network fails. The visual impact is irrefutable, going far beyond the written word to illustrate the anxiety of the crowd. The viewer senses the stress and can relate to the members of the crowd that can’t get through the door. It’s probably an emotion they’ve felt before when they can’t access their own network.

Visuals are vital for all types of communication, whether they’re still shots, videos, infographics or slides. You can upload images to supplement text in blogs, share videos on social media and include them in multimedia press releases to grab the attention of journalists. If you want to have any chance at success in your campaigns, it’s a requirement, not an option.

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Steward Hudson is a writer, researcher/blogger with experience writing for multiple industries, including food, finance, health, marketing, technology and more. He helps small and large businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, get the word out with content marketing strategies from development to implementation. You can find him on Twitter at @steward_hudson for any comments, suggestions or partnership.

Images: martinak15Verizon (Creative Commons)

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