Words Are Actually Too Hard! Can You Picture This?

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Farsi Wikipedia for the 13th week, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have a different way of learning than I do. There are a lot of terms like “Cognitive Styles” and “Learning Strategies” that describe this, but it’s really pretty basic. Still, there are some commonalities across the various Styles. Read a piece of information and 3 days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Simply add a picture and you’ll remember 65%! I also benefit from the inclusion of samples, stories and examples or templates that help me to fill in the mental construct. You probably have other things that help you, too.

Reading text is inefficient for human beings. For enjoyment, it allows for the imagination to roam free, but for passing on information and helping form opinions….well, open imagination may not be the best environment when communicating specific value propositions of your product or business. Your brain sees words as tiny pictures that you are required to translate and interpret. It’s pretty fast, but it does take time and time is an Internet currency that is very precious.

According to a recent study by BuzzSumo, adding a photo, graphic or illustration doubles the probability that your content gets shared. A different study verifies this: on Facebook, sharing is doubled (on average) if you include a photo. Of course, this has nearly become a default for companies: about 74% of all posts by companies, organizations and brands contain some kind of photo, graphic or media.

Don’t be random about the photo….although I maintain that “cats win the Internet”, try to restrain yourself!

Other types of content that also show the potential for doubling the probability of sharing are infographics and lists. These both are easily skimmed and allow you to satisfy your audience’s curiosity quickly. I have expressed reservations about lists before, but as long as they contain truly useful and relevant (and entertaining!) content for the reader, they work really well. Infographics work to leverage both kinds of input: some textual information presented with attractive and easy to understand graphic interpretation. Anything to make your message more “sticky!”

I mentioned the importance of headlines in my last post, and in the case of lists this can be really helpful! In an excellent tip, Mark Schaefer  says that a list article with the number 10 in the headline scores four times the social shares as the next number. After the number 10, list headlines with an odd-number get shared 20% more than even-numbered posts.

So, this being true, did the photo at the top of this post draw you in or not? What would you have chosen?

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