A number of “professional studies” published in the past couple of years suggesting imagery in your posts don’t do you any good were misleading and left brand managers wondering “Why bother investing time, budgets and resources on imagery for our brand?”
We’re going to help debunk these notions and provide you insight on why you need to use imagery in your blog articles, and preferably branded imagery or video.
The simple truth is images DO work for engaging readers while promoting reactions and interactions to the content you’ve painstakingly pulled together and shared with your readers.
In fact, imagery is not only KEY for helping keeping readers engaged, but on-point and reinforcing the message throughout your article. Think about a child learning to read the first time. Those fun, colorful books are filled with imagery for a reason. And, although you’re not necessarily writing to children, the capacity to stay focused and intrigued is often the same capacity of a child’s attention span for today’s busy, digitally plugged-in adult.
The right use of photos or imagery in your blog will make all the difference.
Simply put… the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. If you’re not using a little strategic effort during the design phase and implementation of this one resource, then you are wasting your time and money. Without proper preparation or publication techniques, this element of your optimization goals quickly becomes a wasted resource and will do little to nothing to reinforce your brand or encourage a reaction from the reader.
Here are five (5) important points to cover when using imagery in your blog with the goal of catching readers’ attention.
1. Imagery needs to be strategically placed within your article to help “break” the content to the eye of the reader.
The break up of the content and the imagery itself help keep the reader “on point” and engaged in the conversation to some level. This is very important to understand, because more than 85% of the general online readership today only scan an article’s content versus reading it from head-to-toe.
2. The imagery in your blog should be evoking, memorable, and reinforcing to the message for the reader.
Use large, uncluttered imagery that evoke some type of emotion with the reader. Keep it simple, but powerful. Use minimal text over the top, but on-point supporting text if any. NOTE: Only about 6%-8% of what is read is retained after the fact, and without further reinforcing messages to the reader. So, the use of imagery should help break up the monotony of the article as well as create a memorable moment for the reader.
Here’s another way to think about it. Ever remember that stupid commercial that made you laugh, but you couldn’t remember the product they were trying to sell at first? Then later, you remember image, (or moment), and the way it made you feel. So, the next time you see the ad you quickly make a connection to it and eventually the brand sticks with you. You’re taking the first steps to creating a similar moment. Remember this as we continue the next several bullet points.
3. Branding your imagery with your logo or custom watermark will help create new awareness or strengthen your existing brand-recognition over time.
You may think this sounds like a simple thing, but it’s something that can be easily forgotten when we’re trying to just get that next article cleaned up and ready for publication, or when we’re sharing helpful content throughout social media. There are many opportunities where you can leverage your brand with a little extra added time and effort. And, this has proven to have made some very powerful and positive long-term effects when it comes to a business brand.
4. Make sure you share your recently published content to social media to reinforce the story, the mission, the message or the brand. But, make sure you share it with purpose.
Direct posted articles often find a strong authority, but even syndicated articles to social media are important because they include a click-through-link; redirecting back to the published web page it was shared from originally. This ‘backlink’ is one key SEO strategy used to reinforce your domain and the content published within its ‘walls’.
Note: Not all syndication tools are made equal, and frankly, will not publish well to every social platform. So, if you reference your published article on social media, then investigate the option to copy and paste your published URL to the social platform which will create a backlink to the website page while pulling the best imagery and page description directly into the social post. This technique can be used in a number of social platforms such as Facebook and Google+. And, in the case of Facebook, you have the added capability of replacing the automatically syndicated imagery from the post article with another one of your choosing that may be more appealing to your social audience, and even branded to your business. This is also a great tactic when you want to create multiple posts at varied, strategic times and with different titles and branded imagery that capture the attention of a variety of readers while reinforcing your published page or article.
5. You need to include Alt Tags on all of your website imagery.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re working with featured images or supporting break images on post or page, or even header images from page to page throughout the site, buttons, ads, or web icons, web search engine spiders cannot “read” imagery. However, search engine readers can see the alt tags and descriptions and archive that information. Additionally, for consumers looking at a site from an extremely strict security networks where an image may be “x‘d” out. In those cases, they may not be able to see the actual image, but they could see a description of what it was, in addition to any hyperlinks associated with it.
Those who are not seeing the results on their site or social content strategies are either not using engaging imagery or using it appropriately, an therefore, cannot find the value in spending time on enhancing that content with the imagery. They refer to simplistic insights from social engagement reports without understanding what they’re looking at, or focus on the expense of finding, creating or licensing imagery to use… often spending more than necessary to enhance their message.
Here are a few tips that can save you time, frustration and money.
When reviewing Facebook Insights it’s important to understand a first glance review of activity doesn’t always show the “whole” story. Many posts categorized as “links” may have had photos actually attached to the post. This is important, because even though it may show “links” to get higher engagement, many posts that are “links only” will tend to have lower click through than the same post with imagery that clicks through. In those cases, the imagery is the driving force of the click-through value on the link. And, testing different imagery back to the same linked post can tell you which style and message is most appealing to readers.
(Days and times of posts can also be a contributing factor for engagement. So, having someone able to manage testing through social posting, and then reviewing insights on a frequent and routine basis can provide you greater insight and help you be more effective with future publications.)
And, when it comes to finding and using quality images to enhance your content, it’s not always prudent or effective to have your own professional imagery generated. For this reason, many businesses will turn to the internet to find stock imagery to share. However, just because you find images on Google (Bing, or Yahoo) doesn’t mean it’s available to use for free. And, making such an assumption can be a costly lesson for business owners. So, where do you turn? There are dozens upon dozens of resources online who provide image repositories to search from. But, not all stock image providers are made equal. There’s variety, quality and price to be concerned with, in addition to license controls. For example, some allow you to purchase imagery to use for personal use, but have different restrictions when it comes to use of the imagery for business use. It’s important you do your due diligence in researching these resources. Just because something is listed as free to use on the CC (Creative Commons) license, doesn’t mean it’s free to use for commercial use (businesses be warned!)… you want to look for “truly free” licenses CC0 designations, (a “No Rights Reserved” license to use), or license your paid images from a reputable resource like one of our favorites… Adobe.