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April 21, 2017

How Our Brains Process Visual Content (And Why it Matters for Social Media)

It’s no secret that visual content on social media can drastically improve user engagement. A stunning photo is going to stop you in the tracks of your speedy scrolling far sooner than an extended rant in plain text would (unless you live for that kind of thing on Facebook). In fact, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Let’s explore why visual content is critical if you want to garner the attention of your social media audience.

Facebook Visualizes Text Statuses to Boost Original Content Broadcasting

Last December, Facebook rolled out a visual-forward feature allowing users to transform personal statuses into eye-catching visuals. It appears as though this feature is gaining more traction as of late, as we are continuously noticing more of our friends’ statuses appearing as an image with large text and a colored background. Why is this? The platform unleashed this feature in response to a decline in original, personal sharing. According to The Information, “original content broadcasting” saw a 21% decline year-over-year as of mid-2015, with original broadcast sharing down 15% year-over-year as of April 2016.

How Our Brains Respond to Visual Content

Cognitively speaking, graphics expedite and increase our level of communication. Visual clues activate our ability to comprehend, recollect and retain information on a greater scale. Emotionally speaking, graphics engage our creative imagination and can inspire various feelings and attitudes. Combined, visual content caters to our long-term memory and allows us to process information and form a finer tuned perspective at a vastly greater speed. 

Statistics Supporting the Impact of Visual Content

Studies on the art of visual teaching have revealed the following stats to be true:

  • 90% of information that comes to the brain is visual
  • 65% of the population consists of visual learners
  • Visual aids in the classroom improve learning by up to 400%
  • Our eyes can register 36,000 visual messages per hour
  • The human brain can interpret images that the eye sees in just 13 milliseconds
  • People following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations

Stats Supporting Visual Content as it Relates to Social Media

Studies on the impact of visual content marketing have indicated the following (however, please note that digital marketing stats are in a constant state of change):

  • The number of videos appearing in Facebook’s news feed has increased 3.6X
  • Facebook posts from brands that included images earned 87% of all engagements
  • Tweets with images earned up to 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets
  • People form first impressions in as little as 50 milliseconds
  • The use of visual content by marketers increased by 130% overall from 2015 to 2016
  • In 2016, people on Twitter shared more than 100 million GIFs
  • An estimated 84% of communications will be visual by 2018
  • An estimated 79% of internet traffic will be video content by 2018
  • Posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts
  • People are 85% more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video
  • Posts with videos attract 3X more links than text-only posts
  • Infographics are ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ on social media 3X more than other any other type of content
  • Snapchat users watch a collective average of 10 billion videos on Snapchat every day

As you can see, understanding the importance of visual elements and knowing how to implement them is more critical than ever for businesses who want to get noticed.