The unbridled power of visual storytelling


Close your eyes for a minute. What pops up in your mind? Do you see that email you just read? Maybe a text message that a friend sent you about tonight’s plans? A tweet you saw earlier today? Probably not — and that’s okay! Maybe you saw your comfy bed or a mouthwatering hamburger. Mmmm.

The point is, if your brain has its way, it isn’t going to spend anymore energy than it has to thinking about text. We’re visual animals by nature. Here are some statistics that might help you put that into context:


(Statistics courtesy of HubSpot)

With that in mind (pun intended), it’s time to start thinking about how you and your business can use this visual aptitude to your advantage. The next time you’re working on your content marketing strategy, you need to ask yourself: how can I tell this story visually?

Our brains are hardwired to love images — so much so, that nearly 60 per cent of our brain has a hand in producing vision. But our brains are a lot better at multitasking than we are. A few of the areas in our brain that are responsible for our memory also have a hand in our vision. What I’m saying is that the areas of our brain that literally tell us what to remember also moonlight as visual aids — which is why you can often remember images, scenes or places from years ago with more clarity than you can remember if you wrote $100 or $1000 on that cheque this morning.

So if we know that a consumer will be more likely to remember a visual than a text post, wouldn’t it make sense to include one in every update? Yes. Yes, it would. If you make it part of your social media and content marketing strategy to include an enthralling visual in every post, you’re already on the right track to being more memorable to potential clients.

However, if you’re still not convinced, here’s something that should do the trick. According to researchers at MIT, the human brain is able to recognize images in as little as 13 milliseconds. Recognize — as in view, process and define, and it can do it a lot faster than it takes to blink your eye. Now here’s the clincher: in 2015, with the advent of the digital age and the constant distractions that comes with it, the average person’s attention span is barely 8 seconds. That means even when you are able to drive traffic to your website or catch a consumer’s eye on a social networking feed – you have less than 10 seconds to convince them to buy what you’re selling.


Seeing as the average adult can only read 40 words in the time that their attention span allots them, you’re better off communicating to them visually. Using images or videos to communicate your brand’s purpose or products gives you the benefit of being more memorable and allows your viewers to absorb more of your content before they bounce off your page.

Here are some more key statistics on the power of visual brand storytelling:

  • Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without
  • Users that click on photos of real people are 200% more likely to become customers
  • Facebook photos get 53% more likes than text posts

It all sounds so easy! Add some photos and you’ll get more likes, which will translate to more customers! Well, not quite. There are some things to keep in mind when you’re uploading a photo to Instagram or attaching one to your next scheduled tweet:

  • BE AUTHENTIC: Your consumers aren’t stupid. In fact — statistically speaking, the majority of the people who follow you on Twitter have some level of college education. They can smell a fake a mile away. Adding stock photos to your posts aren’t going to drive up your engagement numbers, rather, it’ll just do the opposite. Engage your audience like the real people that they are, and provide them with content that is both authentic and truly represents your brand.
  • USE VIDEO: Pictures are a step in the right direction, but if you really want to drive up engagement, videos are the way to do it. According to a 2015 report by social media analytics firm Socialbakers, video posts on Facebook have the greatest organic social reach out of all forms of posts on the network. Their reach is 57 per cent greater than photos, but their real benefit is their inherent shareability. Videos are now shared 12 times more often than links and text posts combined on Facebook — meaning if you invest in creating quality video content, the chances are much higher that it’ll pay off.
  • BE INNOVATIVE: If you’re on Instagram (which, as a business in 2015, you should be), the key to success with advertised posts is creativity. Now that the network is allowing all businesses the opportunity to blend advertisements in seamlessly with the rest of the feed, the onus is on you, the business, to not stick out like a sore thumb. Instagram will automatically flag your advertisements with a small “Sponsored” banner, so you need to make sure that before your target audience notices it, they’re already interested (and invested) in the photo. That means getting innovative with what you’re posting and using the platform as a chance to show off your knack for visual storytelling.

Harnessing the power of visual storytelling has the potential for a massive return on your investment – but first you need to understand where it fits in with your marketing strategy as well as the key messaging that will flow through it. Remember, everything you post has to have a direct artery back to your overall marketing objectives.

Download our free eBook to learn about the new culture of content – and how to rethink your brands’ presence online.


Mike Valenti

About Mike Valenti

Skiing, content and tomfoolery are my three main ingredients in life.

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