We’ve been getting pretty good results on Slideshare and we’ve arrived at a pretty obvious conclusion– your visual content matters. The pictures you take, the videos you shoot, the infographics and presentations you prepare are eye candy. But we’ve dug deep into science journals to break it down and see why some images work and some don’t. If you have a travel blog those visuals can help you boost traffic, so it’s worth knowing how to use it to your advantage. To truly master the art of visual content creation it’s best to start with learning a bit more about how we actually perceive the world around us.
How the Brain Perceives Visual Data
Photo Credit: ZeroOne via Compfight cc
We all experience the world around us. The same process allows us to experience the trip to the mall and browsing your blog or facebook feed. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. The perceptual process allows us to experience the world around us wherever we are and whatever there is to experience. Just think of all the things you perceive on a daily basis. At any given moment, you might see familiar objects in your environment, feel the touch of objects and people against your skin, smell the aroma of a home-cooked meal and hear the sound of music coming from your next door neighbor’s apartment. Perception is our sensory experience of the world around us and involves both the recognition of environmental stimuli and actions in response to these stimuli. It includes the five senses; touch, sight, taste smell and taste, but when it comes to online experiences the sight is what prevails. And even if you write the most brilliant insightful blog posts it is the pictures that catch everyone’s attention in the first place. Why? Because our brain has been programmed to react better to picture than text and there’s even one mechanism called the picture superiority effect that you should learn about.
What is the Picture Superiority Effect
Photo Credit: Ferdinand Reus via Compfight cc
The picture superiority effect says that pictures are remembered better than words, especially when people are casually exposed to the information and the exposure is for a very limited time. When information recall is measured just after exposure to a series of pictures or a series of words, the recall for pictures and words is about equal. However, the picture superiority effect applies when the time after exposure is more than 30 seconds, according to the research cited in Universal Principles of Design. The effect is strongest when the pictures represent common, concrete things compared to more abstract ideas. 40% of people will respond better to visual information, than plain text. Well, it looks like you can benefit from that. Instead of relying on words (those matter, too) you can use your visual content to catch everyones attention. The guys in advertising have based all their good campaigns on that. They all work according to the AIDA model where first A stands for attracting attention.
Emotions capture everyones attention
Photo Credit: ecstaticist via Compfight cc
Emotions help to shape information gathering. According to many scientists there is actually no way one can pay attention to something that does not prompt an emotional reaction. In the AIDA model the visual content is used predominantly to catch ones attention. According to evolutionary psychologists our brain reacts best to all things that relate to either food and sex. I would not however encourage anyone to just post imagery of that sort. Every travel blogger has tons of amazing images that can be emotional. You can include those that prompt good emotions, but it is also possible to draw attention with images that awake fear, anger or even disgust. It’s all up to you, but remember that emotion is key to attention and without the attention you are not very visible on-line or offline.
Your content is better than any other
Your pictures are great for many reasons. First of all they are yours, meaning they are unique and no other blogger will use them. Those pictures are also taken by you in a certain time and place so together with your narrative they form a perfect bond of content and context. You know much more about those pictures than anyone else. So you can tell stories with them. Stories that matter and inspire. You can also use them in various context
Beauty is where you find it, but…
Photo Credit: Sergiu Bacioiu via Compfight cc
I have said that more than once already – your pictures are great but I think you might want to make sure they are even „greater”. Remember that one thing I’ve said about food and sex… Well, once again – don’t get me wrong – I don’t want you to flood the world with only two types of imagery. But it is true that amazing food pictures can work magic. In terms of sexy – don’t take it literally. Generally pictures that show people are great. And among those the picture that show eyes rule. And if you happen to have a picture of a child with wide open eyes showing highly dilated pupils (ultimate sign of trust and safety) you are a winner. Remember that composition based on golden ratio, good colors and high resolution also always work to your advantage.
Where to use your visual content
Your visual content is a tool that can help you get more people to your blog, that can help you boost engagement on your Facebook Page. It’s something that can enchant people on Pinterest and help you make great decks for slideshare. In terms of using your own content, remixing, recycling and revisiting it, there are truly no limits. First thing is using your visual content to illustrate blog posts. It works great as it not only adds that extra visual information to the story, but builds a more digestible structure. People really like to have something to lay their eyes on when scrolling down that post. Don’t ever underestimate the power of the pictures when it comes to Facebook. Visual content drives engagement. In fact, just one month after the introduction of Facebook timeline for brands, visual content — photos and videos — saw a 65% increase in engagement. On Facebook, photos perform best for likes, comments, and shares as compared to text, video, and links. Even when you just want to post a link from your Facebook page make sure to upload the best possible image instead of just using the random thumbnails that appear there. When it comes to pictures Pinterest is arguably the best place to enchant others with your pictures. Pinterest generated more referral traffic for businesses than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined. One more social platform is obviously Slideshare where you can turn your pictures into travel oriented presentation. You can check out how we used the emotional side of images and how our presentation went viral on Slideshare.
Pictures are fun to make and a great way to capture reality, but for every travel blogger out there they are also a great marketing tool that just screams to be used. So don’t wait and just do it.