Use Images to Boost Engagement: The Science Behind Visual Communication

by Jesse Lahey on August 4, 2013

Images-Engage-People_EngagingLeader_Depositphotos_27864207_m2Over the years, as our team has employers engage and influence their workforce, we’ve repeatedly seen the power of visual images and video. But last week’s blog post by Leo Widrich really hit home on just how crucial an image can be. Widrich, co-founder of the hugely popular startup Buffer, said adding the right images to their messages was a key tactic that helped them triple their engagement in the past year. That’s a 300% improvement in just the last year! This isn’t just important for a startup company making use of blogging and other social media. It demonstrates the importance of using the right visuals to help communicate any important message with the people you lead. Sending a visual message about safer remedies that should be tried firstFor example, our team is helping one company counteract recent trends among employees of narcotic painkillers and invasive back surgeries (see new study: Doctors increasingly ignore clinical guidelines for routine back pain). Among other tactics, we helped the company’s medical director send a visual message about safer remedies that could be tried first. There are five reasons you should include the right visuals to help communicate any important message. When your message includes the right visuals, people will be more likely to:

  • NOTICE it. The average person reads between 200-300 words per minute, but less than a second to process an image. Eye tracking studies also show that people gravitate immediately to images.
  • BELIEVE it. I recommend always telling the truth, but a new study shows people will believe even a lie – if it’s accompanied by the right image.People will believe even a lie – if it’s accompanied by the right image.
  • REMEMBER it. And according to MIT neuroscience research, images with people in them are the most memorable.
  • SPREAD it. For example, on Facebook, photos get 7 times more likes and 10 times more shares than links.
  • ACT on it. Consider the power of Pinterest. This photo-sharing site came out of nowhere to become the third-largest social network, behind Facebook and Twitter. And Pinterest users don’t just view and share photos, they buy stuff — spending about twice as much as FB and Twitter users. Even Amazon seems to be taking a lesson from Pinterest.

Want eight more powerful ways to engaging people? Get my free e-book, 8 Communication Tools for Leaders.

Jesse Lahey, SPHR, is the host of the Engaging Leader podcast, host of the Game Changer podcast series, and managing principal of Aspendale Communications. Connect with him on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.

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