It’s a fact. Imagery is everywhere. From the moment we wake up, to the moment we close our eyes to sleep, we’re bombarded with images from all directions.
Images are used for all manner of purposes. To sell us something we don’t need, to teach us useful information, to capture our hearts and to evoke emotional responses.
Despite that they’re being used in ever-increasing ways, most importantly in the content, we consume online.
Open any blog or online magazine and you’ll come face to face with photographs, graphics and images of all shape and size. You would think we’d do everything in our power to avoid them, and yet we don’t. In fact, we love them.
In 2017 alone, more and more bloggers, marketers and content creators have been turning to visual content as a way to draw in traffic to their online real estate. Along with this thirst to learn how to create great images quickly, we’ve seen the likes of Canva, a tool for easily compiling images and designs, taking the limelight.
But why is imagery so important? Why do we love the visual medium so much and what impact does it have on our daily activities?
Why People Love Images
There’s a reason why we adore imagery in our lives, especially in an online environment. They have this unique ability to get to the heart of a message, without having to spend hours thinking of the right words.
Imagine trying to say thank you to someone close to you. How would you express your heartfelt thanks to someone who’d done you a good turn, with only words to aid you? It would be pretty difficult right?
But if we were allowed to choose an image that encompassed everything words couldn’t possibly convey? Well, I’m sure you can answer that yourself.
One carefully chosen picture is all it takes to stop a person in their tracks.
In 2017 Facebook posts containing photos accounted for 85% of all interactions, according to the marketer. That’s a staggering amount of individuals using imagery to connect with their friends, family and loved ones, but it doesn’t stop there.
In a report by Demand Gen Report, 95% of B2B buyers preferred a short content format. What this means is when perusing products to buy, the majority of people opted for snackable, easy to consume forms of presenting information (such as videos, images) as opposed to a typical article or description.
This only helps to confirm that imagery is preferable because it takes less time for a person to process. If you can see a visual representation of a product, you’ll get a much quicker idea of whether you like it or not.
This thing also works for blogging. A reader is much more likely to click through to a blog post that contains images that are attractive, good quality and visually appealing. If your images can encapsulate those features, as well as creating an emotional connection to your content, then you’re on the right track.
How Images Work Online
From an online perspective, images translate into highly valuable commodities for your digital real estate. They function as the core element of a piece of content, whether that’s a blog post, news article, tutorial or listicle.
Images make the online world go round.
Every social network utilizes imagery to some extent and sharing images in these places holds incredible power. The power to get your content seen by many more eyes than they normally would.
Let’s take a look at Pinterest as a key example of the power of imagery.
Pinterest enables users to curate pieces of content in the form of ‘pins’ onto different boards. These boards are usually categorised by a person’s interest. Look anywhere on Pinterest and you’ll see a key trend in the images shared here: they evoke a response from the viewer.
It’s common practice in marketing specifically to Pinterest users, that you make your Pin images as desirable as possible. Tacky, poor quality images simple won’t gain traction. In the same way we want to fill our lives with those things that are beautiful and attractive, so too does the Pinterest user want to fill their boards with the same things.
And so by creating images that are aesthetically pleasing, that speak to a person emotionally, we’re better able to get them to take notice and investigate further.
An experiment by Buffer recently revealed that simply including an image in a Tweet, can increase its reach. Tweets with images received up to 150% more ReTweets than those without, which would dramatically improve your odds.
The question remains, what should you put into an image? What should you miss out? Are there even any rules?
Creating The Concept of Your Image
This swiftly brings us to what goes into making a great online image. We’re not talking about fine art here (although granted, art can and does have its place). I’m talking about the basic principles of creating the subject of your image and making sure your image delivers the message it’s supposed to.
One really simple way of doing this is to state the obvious. Your image doesn’t have to be fancy. Simply adding some text to an image with step-by-step instructions is a brilliant way of creating a highly shareable and engaging piece of content.
Another way to create quick, attention-grabbing imagery is to use image creation tools such as Canva or Picmonkey. For most of my own blog images, I’ve used these tools alongside stock photos (I’m a pretty rubbish photographer), to compile something that’s pleasing to the eye and which captures the essence of a post.
Try uploading a stock image to Canva, or even a photo you’ve taken. Next, think about the content it will highlight. You might want to put the post title over the image, or you could place a quote from your article on the photo. Be sure to include your URL somewhere, this will help people find your blog after it’s been shared.
Visual content doesn’t have to be a scary subject, but it can take some getting used to.
The key I believe is to keep things as simple as possible and to keep evaluating your progress.