A Picture is Worth 1,000 Shares

I read an article a couple years back that said visuals translate to the brain 60,000 times faster than text and that 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual.

If you think about it, it makes total sense. From the moment we’re born, we learn by observing the world with our eyes before we ever understand a spoken word. It makes even more sense when you think about the absolute explosion of image and video-centric networks like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest.

It’s all about storytelling – because visuals create memories. And in a world where people’s attention spans are limited to a 140-character tweet, 10-second snap or a thumb-scroll past an Instagram photo on a mobile device, marketers need to find ways to creatively communicate their messages through original rich media instead of text.

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“It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Photos help to tell a story.” – Donald Dunnington, The New Rules of Marketing & PR 5th Edition, pg. 311

As a social media marketer, I understand how important it is to use rich media as part of my content strategy. And while I don’t believe a recipe exists to make something “go viral,” I strive to include a video or photo in every single one of my social media posts (if you watched the video in my first blog post, you’ll see that video will account for two thirds of mobile usage by next year).

For instance, I optimize all of my Facebook content to adhere to Edgerank, the algorithm Facebook uses to determine what does and doesn’t show up in individual user’s news feeds. This algorithm takes into account several different factors, one of which is “weight,” or type of post. Or in human terms: Facebook favors image and video content over plain-text posts. If you scroll through Rowan University’s Facebook page, you’ll see that I rarely, if ever, post anything without a link, photo or video.

For many organizations, producing high-quality photos and videos isn’t an option because of limited resources (pro tip: stay away from stock photography). That’s where user-generated content can be of great benefit.

“Many organizations encourage their customers or fans to produce videos for them. These customer-generated video efforts often take the form of contests and can be highly successful, especially for a product or service that has a visual impact.” – Donald Dunnington, The New Rules of Marketing & PR 5th Edition, pg. 101

As part of Rowan University’s Instagram strategy, I run a campaign called #PROFspective. It’s a contest that encourages people to share photos of campus from their perspective using a play-on-words hashtag. The benefit? It gives them an opportunity to win prizes and a feature on our official Instagram page, while helping me source user-generated content, save time and money and feature beautiful photos of campus that could attract potential students.

The data doesn’t lie. Photos and videos produce significantly more engagement and can help companies capitalize on viral buzz and word-of-mouth marketing by connecting with their audiences on a personal or emotional level.

Now say cheese.

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