Are you more drawn into webpages that use images than those don’t have them? Do you tend to ‘like’ or share social media posts that feature photos or illustrations?  Well, you are not alone. According to MDG Advertising, web articles with images get 94% more total views and, according to the Social Media Examiner, photos on Facebook generate 53% more likes that the average post.

Did you click on the link because of the kitten?
(Image via Shutterstock)

Why is this? Through his studies, psychologist Albert Mehrabian demonstrated that 93% of communication is nonverbal; as human beings, we respond to whole host of triggers other than what is being said or written. We even learn to see, and interpret what we see, before we learn to speak, and the power of the visual image (and associations we have with certain images) never diminishes.

Therefore, we are much more likely to be drawn to online marketing that uses imagery, and it makes the choice and use images vitally important when it comes to your own marketing strategy.

Apart from the immediacy and the psychological draw of visual online marketing, there are many more mundane technical reasons as to why you should use in images in your social media and webpages.

Imagery is an important factor in website SEO, for example. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an umbrella term given to a series of techniques deployed to boost the rankings of where websites appear in the search results in search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Not only are webpages that feature images are more favourably viewed by search engines, but how you name and caption images on websites play an important part of SEO.

A good image on a website has a life beyond appearing on the webpage in question too, as it can (and should) be used as a visual ‘thumbnail’ that previews the webpage when shared by others on social networks and other online platforms.

The image therefore acts a visual preview and summary of what the webpage is about, and a good choice of image can improve the click through rate on links to your site through it being displayed as a thumbnail.

It has also been shown that the various algorithms of the social networks favour visual posts over those that are text based and incorporate links. Facebook is increasingly favouring the visual in its users’ News Feeds and Google+ enlarges posts that use images in other users’ G+ circles.

Some social media networks are also purely visual in nature, such as Instagram and Pinterest. The widespread predominance of imagery in social media and online marketing is down in part to how we increasingly prefer to communicate with imagery.

This is due to the growth of mobile ownership and the development of mobile phone camera technology means that it has never been easier to create a good looking image and share it with our online connections. The future of social media marketing is visual and therefore you must be prepared to generate or source imagery for your online marketing campaign.

However, I have some words of caution before you start plastering your websites with images or start streaming photos to your Twitter feed. Most important of all, make sure you own the image that you are sharing on your website or social media feeds.

Copyright is a serious business, and I am personally aware of past associates who have been fined by various photography agencies for using an image on their website without acquiring the appropriate licence or buying it. Therefore make sure you only images that you know for a certain that you have the copyright for (Shutterstock, fotolia, and Getty Images are good legitimate sources of imagery).

Sometimes, one kitten picture isn’t enough…
(Image via Shutterstock)

If you are creating your own images for your online marketing campaigns, make sure that you have permission of all those who happen to feature in them.

This is goes for employees of your organisations too; just because they work for a company, it doesn’t give the company the automatic right to use the image of that employee in its marketing or in any other way it sees fit.

Get all those featured in your own imagery to sign consent forms, which will clearly detail how you intend to use the image of that employee, on what channels or media and for how long.

I would also argue that thought needs to be given to what the choice of anyone image is meant to achieve. How does the image reflect upon the associated marketing content? Is the image appropriate for the marketing campaign’s intended audience? And how will that image look in different contexts (at full size or as a thumbnail, or in a brochure?).

Images, because they are so important, need to be chosen carefully and used only when you have clear goals on what you are trying to achieve by featuring them.

Images are therefore a vital part of your online and social media marketing mix, but they must have clear and sensible associations with whatever you are trying to promote, whether that be a blog article, a product or a service.


Nick Lewis Communications can provide training in social media marketing as well as offer professional management of social media feeds. To find out, please e-mail or call 07970 839137.



Nick Lewis is a communications professional with over 15 years’ experience of working in both the private and public sector.

Nick is now using his wealth of skills and experience to help small businesses and organisations adapt to the modern online age. He helps individuals understand the possible successful applications of Social Media for their business and how they can use and monitor online materials and Social Media themselves to meet their professional goals.

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