Visual content is good for business. In fact, imagery is so powerful that just seconds of watching a video will increase purchase intent in 44 percent of viewers, according to a Facebook study. Additionally, Facebook posts with photos get 120 percent more engagement than text-only social media posts, a report from Ragan explained. Why are these things true? And, more importantly, how can you use this information to your advantage?
First, the (Neuro) Science
Estimates dating the origin of spoken language vary, but according to a report from the University of California, Berkeley, the process began with visual demonstration approximately 1.8 million years ago. In fact, our brains are hard-wired for visual information, and visual senses are meant to be powerful.
We also process visual content better and faster than we process text. In one glance, we can consume more information than we can from reading an entire book. Another factor that favors the visual in our brains is they're capable of processing multiple images simultaneously. Whereas with text, we process just one word at a time. Skilled readers process text more quickly, but that's because their brains see familiar words in much the same way as pictures.
Another contributing factor to our ability to retain images over words is where they're processed in the brain. Words get processed by our short-term memory, but images go directly into long-term memory, where they more often become indelibly etched.
Your Bottom Line
When it comes to moving your product with visual content, it's good to have all that information. But before you use an image in your marketing, check to see if you're selecting images that:
- Confer credibility - When getting your message out to your customers, text doesn't compete with images. Both are needed to close a sale, but most people won't buy a product without seeing it. This doesn't mean it needs to be polished and perfect, but the image should add to the overall trustworthiness of your brand.
- Create emotional connection - Language is only in the neocortex, or newer part of the brain, making it a more advanced process that our brains have to work through. But images penetrate to our reptilian brains, stimulating our most basic drives. We simply understand, and respond more easily, to images. Use images to show — rather than tell — a brand story.
- Augment your story - Your ad's image can tell another part of a story without the need for words. Say you're selling comfortable shoes. The image of a happy-looking person walking on a cloud underscores that message, and this is where a trusted creative partner can be a game-changer.
Language must be learned, but the way we process visual information is innate. Babies recognize their mothers long before they can say or read or spell the word mommy, and this kind of neural processing continues even once we do learn to speak. This is why images are powerful tools for businesses.