Visuals are the New Headline

Getting noticed and commanding attention with content marketing has two parts these days: headlines AND images. While headlines are absolutely critical, images are what really grab people. Images draw you in.


Perhaps Andy Warhol summed it up best with the above quote. To a certain extent we’ve become more conditioned to “read through pictures” as we scan information, and the endless onslaught of content we sift through daily.

In a world of ready access to visuals with the prevalence of smart phones and easy to use photo editing software, combined with social media platforms that enable and encourage sharing, one photo can easily reach 10,000 viewers even if it is only accompanied by one or two words. That can go up exponentially with video if it goes viral. And it goes a long way to explaining the appeal of live stream video with real time visual connections and interactivity.

Humans have been reading words for hundreds of years, but we’ve been reading visuals for thousands of years. We are hardwired to be attracted to visuals. In fact consumers post 2.5 billion images every week according to Engadget, a tech blog.

There’s good reason why visual platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Youtube have generated so much growth. And it also explains why platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have become much more visually oriented, with images and streaming video.

Here are 5 reasons why visuals are so effective:

  1. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. We absorb visuals 50 times faster than words.
  2. Posts to Facebook are more likely to engage and be shared if there is a visual image. Posts with visuals receive 94% more page visits and engagement than posts without.
  3. Facebook posts with images on average receive twice as many comments as posts without.
  4. Tweets with images get 2 times more engagement than those that don’t.
  5. Visuals express ideas quickly – in a snapshot. This breaks through the overwhelming clutter of online content.


If you are not utilizing visuals well in your online, social media or enews marketing efforts, you’re likely missing out on views and shares.

The magic for marketers of course happens when narrative details and brand value can be communicated in a single photo or short video.

One example that caught my eye this week was Suprella, an innovative designed umbrella, that folds in an inverted direction, making it easier to fold when entering buildings and cars, and the water doesn’t drip from it. While I’m sure it’s the result of geo targeting, and the fact that Vancouver receive 28 days of rain out of 31 in October 2016, I’ve seen a sponsored video show up in my Facebook feed several times. I’ve seen it on Twitter, and on Vimeo. It doesn’t appear to have a Twitter page, but the hashtag #suprella as a channel there has several people commenting on it. Both the still visual and the video convey in a far more compelling way then a headline ever could the narrative details of the brand.

All this to say, you still need compelling words and headlines in your emails, blog posts, and social media shares. However, I’d invite you to consider that combining a powerful visual with it will make it that much more effective. And I’ll hazard a guess, that without a visual, you will be loosing a large percent of browsers who simply skim and fail to stop.

Mary Charleson

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