Using the image to tell a story

 

By Chris Lee

With online attention spans estimated to be down to just eight seconds, images can be incredibly powerful for their ability to create instant impact. As a result, brands are thinking long and hard about image strategies.

Images are powerful: As NMK reported in 2012, ROI Research found that users are 44 per cent more likely to engage with brands and companies if an image is involved. According to 3M Corp., our brains process visual content 60,000 times faster than text. Articles with images get 94% more views and we tend to remember pictures about 1.5 times more often than printed words. Furthermore, over one third of all links shared on Twitter are images.

Images are “the new headline”

According to Fraser Robinson, CEO of image interaction technology developer Taggstar.com, the image is becoming the new headline.

“It therefore makes sense that brands are beginning to think more deeply about their digital image strategy. Hoping that your customers will discover your content through SEO is no longer enough,” he told NMK. “Instead, brands need to think creatively about how to ensure their content gets noticed, but without being too pushy about it. The content that succeeds will be that which is optimised for discovery and social sharing. We’re likely to see images becoming a core component of that optimisation process, acting as a signpost, bridging the link between the brand and its content.”

Robinson believes the quality of a brand’s images is crucially important, and stock photos or images that brands do not hold the copyright to should really be avoided. 

“In this age of mobile photography where even major news outlets are featuring images shot with a mobile phone as their cover – including Ben Lowy’s iPhone image of Hurricane Sandy that made TIME Magazine’s cover – customer’s expectations for original and inspiring photography is higher than ever,” Robinson added. “Getting the image right, and making sure it accurately represents the content and entices readers in, is paramount.”

Top image strategy tips

Raphael Turner, head of social and digital at London-based consultancy Kazoo, believes that at a time when Web users are bombarded with content and marketing messages, an effective image strategy is essential.

“Consumers are increasingly likely to communicate with imagery rather than words, as it quickly evokes emotion and they can make their own interpretation,” he said. “Also, the saturation of online content and marketing materials makes people read less on the Internet, which makes images the perfect way to catch attention."

Turner advises the below steps to marketers looking to integrate images within their social media strategy: 

1 – Create images specifically tailored for each network (consider size and type of content)

2 – Always use high-quality pictures, it will be rewarding 

3 – Make your images sharable (use interesting content and sharing buttons)  

4 – Use text on images when appropriate  

5 – Humour always works

6 – Use images to be informative and help your customers

Taggstar’s Robinson concluded: “The good news is that images don’t always have to be a high cost strategy. They don’t necessarily need to be professionally shot as consumers aren’t always looking for the highest quality image. What matters is its timeliness, authenticity, the story that it tells about the brand, and its ability to engage and entertain. These are the sort of images that are shared, and provoke that all-important call to action.”

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