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Inspirational | Thursday, 06th August 2015

Visuals Rock in Human Marketing. Here are 5 Facts and a Killer Case Study to Prove It.

Written by Teri Camilleri

Hey there – me again! Taking over from Julia for a while as she celebrates hitting the half-way mark with all you awesome subscribers *jig*

My job this week is to get us started on the new chapter of the course: Inspirational Marketing.

Now, you’d be forgiven for assuming that this post is going to focus on tear-jerking, heart-string-tugging tactics used in some of the most memorable campaigns in the last couple of years. If that’s what you’re in the mood for, I’m sorry to disappoint! (but here’s a heavy dose to keep you happy anyway)
Nope, there will be no emotions or fuzzy feelings here today. Today, we’re drawing our attention to the most basic (and, to me, the most inspiring) of human characteristics – the biological, physical, human brain.

Think about it (tee hee): Your brain can do a lot of awesome things. From the second you’re born, it wants to learn, grow, understand and interact. And one of the most direct ways for it to do these things is by looking. Seeing. Visualising.

Which brings me to my point: visual marketing rocks. Our brains are made for looking, and if your brand is not trying to take advantage of the human brain’s constant craving for new visual information, then you’re missing out on one of the most effective ways to tap straight into people’s heads.

Here are 5 reasons why visual content marketing is scientifically proven to boost your engagement:

1. Visual content grabs attention

This screenshot was taken at 12:50pm from www.internetlivestats.com. If you access it now, the numbers would have skyrocketed.

visuals in marketing

450 million tweets before lunchtime? That’s insane. How on earth is your content going to stand out?

Well, after targeting your content to a specific, narrow audience, the concept of publishing content to the web seems a little less pointless. But even once you’ve got an audience in place, you’re not going to attract their attention with text: it needs to be visual to stand out.

Why? Because our brains can only process a limited amount of information at any time, and data that is easier to process will take precedence in grabbing a person’s attention, leading us neatly into our next point…

2. Visual content is processed faster by the human brain

60,000 times faster, according to our source. As a ballpark figure, our brain will process visuals and images in one tenth of a second.

visuals in marketing

3. Visual content makes up 93% of all human communication

What could be a better argument for visuals in human marketing than that?

(We didn’t make that up, by the way. It’s from the research performed by Psychologist Albert Mehrabain.)

So OK, visuals are recognized well by the brain, but what does this mean for digital marketers such as yourself? Yep, you guessed it:

4. Visual content generates more views for your posts

Yep, it’s that simple. MDG Advertising reports that adding visuals, graphics or images to any post will boost your views by around 94%. And as a result…

5. Visual content helps you increase subscribers and followers

You know the drill by now:

Compelling content leads to more engagement in terms of likes, comments and shares.
More engagement means more reach.
More reach means more people know about you.
The more people know about you, the better the results of your digital marketing!

Seems like a logical process, right? Yet I still hear of companies resisting the shift to visuals (or social media in general) because “we just don’t have the right brand for it”.

Which brings me to the last point of this post: A case study that I’ve had tucked up my sleeve, which I’ve been itching to share with you at just the right time. Be impressed and be inspired, but keep an eye out for the key takeaway – digital marketing through visuals will work for any brand.

General Electric

GE is a 120-year old multi-national company that designs and builds anything from household appliances to aeroplane engines, power turbines, vehicles and locomotives and molecular imaging equipment.

Not exactly your ideal brand for social media, right? Tell that to the Shorty Awards, who listed them as a finalist for the Best Brand on Instagram for 2015.

Here’s what GE have to say: “Instagram has become the hub of our visual storytelling and is a way to connect with our followers in a new way. Generating content for Instagram has become a key priority for GE in the past year.”

I guess the main question on my mind at this point was: Why bother?

Their main goal was to shift perception of the brand. When people hear GE, they think of their grandmother’s washing machine, but the team behind @generalelectric isn’t here to push appliances. Instead, they wanted to tell their broader story of building, powering, moving and curing the world (which just happens to be their company mission).

They saw Instagram as an opportunity to shift perceptions by showing a different side of the brand:

“We do so many things, something we were looking to solve is how to explain that to people,” says Katrina Craigwell, Global Manager of Digital Marketing at General Electric. “It’s about developing an understanding for what GE does, beyond what you think it does.”

In a nutshell, they wanted to tell their story by making it understandable to humans, and this tactic has paid off in a big way. They posted their first photo to their Instagram account in May 2011, and now have 190k followers, thousands of whom engage on every single one of their posts.

visuals in marketing

I’d say the brand message has been delivered with a bang, and received loud and clear.

And speaking of Inspiration, take a look at their account tagline:

“This feed features the groundbreaking research and technology that GE has been developing since the days of Edison.”

Teri Camilleri

a little more about

Teri Camilleri,

Teri is an Online Strategist at Switch Digital, handling various aspects of online marketing efforts for the company's clients. She has an unhealthy obsession with social media, and can often be found carefully curating her Pinterest boards, reading books, watching movies and learning way too much about pop culture.