If you have ever spent time analyzing your social media post data, it may be no surprise that images consistently rank higher in terms of engagement and interaction. But have you ever wondered why? Read on to learn how using eye-catching images in your marketing can increase engagement and interaction.

The Science

People are hardwired to respond to visual stimuli. About 20% of your brain is used to only process visual information. At any given time, the neurons in your brain could be firing up to 2 billion times per second just to process everything you see.

Studies show that the human brain processes visual information 6000x faster than text. This is likely due to the brain being able to process visual information simultaneously, while language is decoded in a linear manner, meaning it takes longer to process.

From an evolutionary standpoint, language is fairly new but the ability to see images is not. Even from an early age, babies can see and understand the world around them before they have the ability to speak. As John Berger, a media theorist, wrote in his book Ways of Seeing (1972) “Seeing comes before words.”

Even once we gain the ability to speak and use language it does not change how important visual images are to our understanding. Words and text are stored in short-term memory and even the smartest people can only retain about 7 bits of information (hence why we have 7 digit phone numbers). On the other hand, images are etched into long-term memory. This has a profound impact on the way we learn, communicate and even make decisions. For example, only 20% of people remember what they read, but 80% of people will remember what they see and do.

Using it to your advantage

Unless you have been living under a rock for years, you likely know that advertisers and marketers have been exploiting people’s responses to images for decades. Case in point, WWII propaganda was a catalyst for some of the most significant changes in cultural attitude to the war during the 1940’s. Even today it is estimated that the average person sees 362 ads  with images per day – all designed to get you to take some sort of action.

What does that mean for your business? If your online marketing is not taking advantage of our brain’s constant craving for new visual information then you are missing out on one of the best ways to influence new customers. Furthermore, if you are not using visual images effectively your business could get lost in all the noise.

How to implement it

Make sure the images you are using provoke an emotion. As Dr. Lynell Burmak, a professor and writer on visual literacy said, “…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear.”

Use faces in your marketing materials. According to research, the human brain has a specific circuit for recognizing faces and it’s called the fusiform gyrus. In a study done by Georgia Institute of Technology, researchers found that photos with human faces were 38% more likely to receive “likes” and 32% more likely to receive comments when compared to photos without faces.

Use color. Believe it or not, a single color can have a profound impact on people. For example, the color red had been found to increase blood pressure, heartbeat and breathing.  Choosing the right color for your marketing campaign can complement the emotion you are trying to provoke with the image(s) you choose.

Try to keep it simple. While your brain is designed to process visual information quickly and efficiently, less is always more. Consider common road signs, like children crossing the street or the warning to watch out for deer. A single image can convey a message and lead to a decision quickly.

Have questions? Contact us today to learn more or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for more tips!