By Chris Lee
For a brand or business trying to communicate an idea, there is no simpler way than with an image.
Images speak for themselves in a way that words cannot and furthermore they can cross language and cultural boundaries. In fact, articles with images get 94% more views, which is why every brand needs an “image strategy”, according to Fraser Robinson, CEO and founder of image app website Taggstar.com.
“So why is it that while so many brands are defined by well-thought-out image strategies in the offline world, when it comes to online this logic is very often thrown out of the window?” Robinson asked. “So often we see brand websites that are poorly designed and poorly photographed, and are completely uninspiring. This is such a missed opportunity.”
A recent study conducted by ROI Research found that users are 44 per cent more likely to engage with brands and companies if an image is involved.
Developing a digital image strategy
Robinson believes that brands are now beginning to think more deeply about their digital image strategy.
“The key to building a successful image strategy is to consider what an image ‘does’ online, for the end user particularly,” he told NMK. “The big difference between offline and digital is that you can interact with an image online. Thinking about how you engage with your customers online via images is a crucial consideration. Incorporating a social element, so that people can share your images, or parts of them, for example, should really form a part of your strategic thinking.”
Robinson offered the example of a customer who could be reading an article online, where a detail within an image really jumps out at them.
“Maybe it’s a little black dress that would be perfect for the work Christmas party but she wants a second opinion. Creating the ability for her to share that part of the image with her friends on Facebook, for example, is what people increasingly want to be able to do, with ease,” he said.
Images as a traffic driver
Images are an important way for gaining traffic to websites and blog, particularly from Facebook, Robinson said. Images used in a blog post can be shared via others’ social profiles so people will see the image and your description. If the image is enticing they will be far more likely to follow the link, Robinson argues.
Engagement rates on Facebook for photos averages 0.37 per cent where text only is 0.27 per cent (this translates to a 37 per cent higher level of engagement for photos over text).
“There’s no doubt that camera phones and iPads have unleashed a new passion and creative hunger in people for online images and photography,” Robinson added. “Image-based sites and apps such as Pinterest and Instagram have raised the bar for brands and businesses, and customers increasingly expect to be able to engage with inspiring images. Consequently, many brand sites are re-launching as more of a magazine-style experience as they think beyond designing for the desktop.”
When it comes to building your online image strategy, size definitely matters, Robinson advises.
“The larger the image, the longer people will hang around looking at it, and the more likely they will be to engage with it,” he said. “How you navigate from one image to the next is also critical, as well as considering how images can become points of navigation. Sites such as Pinterest and Facebook are successful as they allow users to consume visual content quickly and easily, in an unfettered fashion.”
Straddling the fine line between the sorts of images that people like to interact with and those that accurately represent the brand is a difficult one, Robinson said.
“Your choice of subject is hugely important when it comes to attracting attention. If you consider this question from a data standpoint, celebrity images will always attract high levels of engagement,” he concluded. “There’s no doubt that we’re in the midst of an online image explosion, where everyone has a ‘camera in their pocket’. Image creation and content is only going to get bigger and brands need to be certain that their online content strategy begins with the image.”