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The power of visual content in social media marketing

by Ana, posted 3 years ago
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Imagine yourself scrolling through your Twitter feed. What is more likely to catch your attention? That’s right; a tweet with an image or video attached to it. Science shows that 65% to 85% of people define themselves as visual ‘learners’ meaning that they form perceptions more on what they see and less on what they read.

Apart from this, the attention span of people especially on social media is quite short. Marketers are realizing that visual stimuli and rich media perform much better in catching people’s attention. As a result, social media marketing has shifted towards a more visual approach and social media platforms have adjusted accordingly.

Facebook and Twitter have become a lot more visual with the rise of native video as an alternative way of producing social media content and images being dominant in social media posts. In addition, heavily visual platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Vine are growing faster than ever.

So what makes visuals so powerful in social media marketing and how understanding their power can help you better define your content strategy? Let’s take a look at why visuals are such a strong element of social media marketing, which types of visuals are social media-friendly and which tools you can use to produce visual content for social media.

We process visuals faster than words

Research has shown that visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. And on social media with all this overload of information you have nothing more than a split second to capture the audience‘s attention. Therefore, visuals can help you stand from the crowd.

Images trigger certain reactions

Stephanie Hatch Leishman, Social Media Strategist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggests letting the image be your message, and this is because visuals have the power of triggering certain reactions that may have an impact on engagement. These reactions can be either emotional (visuals can inspire, motivate, surprise or shock) and mental (they can pose questions, provoke thoughts, ask for input, inform, trigger certain thoughts and of course capture the attention).

Visuals tell a story

A Chinese proverb says that an image is worth 1000 words. A video or an image is “snackable” form of content that not only is easier to digest but also has the ability to convey a story in a more direct and effective way.

Visual storytelling is probably the secret to a successful social media marketing. Of course the challenge is to be able to create visuals that are relevant to your brand, engaging, captivating, and tell a story while staying true to your marketing objectives.

Visuals may add trust and credibility

Although we might not always realize it, when text is combined with visual content, we are more likely to believe what is being said. Visuals therefore, may help you develop trust with your audience but also add credibility to your message.

Types of visuals you can use in your content strategy


Images are the most popular piece of visual content on social media and for a good reason. On Twitter, tweets with images are retweeted 35% more, whereas tweets that include video increase their engagement rate by 28%. For Facebook, 87% of the most shared posts in 2014. included an image.


Facebook‘s algorithm has made it impossible for many brands to organically reach their audiences, however native video seems to be the secret to ‘unlocking’ reach. Twitter joined Facebook last month, allowing mobile consumers to record and share videos directly from the platform.  So it all points to the fact that video marketing is the next big thing on social for marketers.

GIFs and Vines

GIFs and Vines lie somewhere in between videos and images and are a great way to diversify your visual content strategy. In fact, GIFs have been available on Twitter for quite some time and brands have really made the most out of it!

Infographics are a highly shareable piece of social media content especially thanks to platforms such as Pinterest. More than that they are a great source of traffic and may contribute to brand recognition and better SEO.


With platforms such as Slideshare, presentations have become one of the most successful pieces of visual content that can be useful to your social media content strategy. Slideshare has been characterised as the YouTube for presentations and is a great way to repurpose all content and convey it in small bites.

Tools to create visuals

Now you’re probably wondering: “I understand the power of visuals, I know what type of content I want to produce, but how do I do that?” Let’s take a look at three tools that are simple to use without necessarily requiring pro design skills.


Canva is a great tool for creating professional looking images for social media in less than 3 minutes. The best part is that you shouldn’t worry about the size of your images since Canva offers templates of visuals for all major platforms.


Piktochart is great for creating infographics in just a few minutes. What is helpful is the wide range of themes to choose from and the freedom the tool offers in customizing templates to fit your style and needs.


Wideo is a handy tool for creating videos for social media, quickly and easily. The free version allows you to choose from a selection of templates and produce videos up to 45 seconds which is the ideal length for a social media post.

Now over to you! Have you started harnessing the power of visuals on your social media marketing? Let us know in the comments right below.