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I’ve seen claims that social media posts with images, including blogs, get 94% more views than those without images. I went looking for support for that claim and didn’t find it, but I did come across a number of blog posts, including one from MIT (as in Massachusetts Institute of Technology) with the reminder that a picture is worth 1,000 words, a platitude we have all heard, and probably believed, since long before social media came on the scene. The MIT report claims of the effectiveness of using images is much lower, but nonetheless impressive: of the top 20 posts on MIT’s Facebook page, as gauged by likes and comments, 70% had images.

Some of the impact of images seems obvious, such as that any post with images – whether on a blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter – take up more space in the reader’s feed, which translates into readers having just a little bit more time to see the post while scrolling.

It is an oversimplification to say the left side of the brain controls only logic and the right controls only creativity, but images are more likely to engage both the right and left side of the brain, increasing the impact over just text, creating a connection with the reader. From the MIT report:

Effective images evoke responses from viewers. That’s the goal. Hatch [Stephanie Hatch, of MIT’s Communication Production Services] notes that there are three types of responses:

  • Emotional: Images can elicit any of a range of feelings, from awe to amusement to sadness. The emotion doesn’t have to be positive to create a connection.
  • Mental: An image can make its mark by challenging, instructing or informing.
  • Social: People tuned in to trends and memes, who have a pop-culture awareness, may respond to images that play on that awareness. Social responses can also be cultural: an image that speaks to a Finnish audience won’t necessarily resonate with Fijians.

One important warning: Never use copyrighted images without permission. There are many sources of free images, but many require acknowledgement. For example, flickr.com offers a wide range of images available under creative commons licenses. Since there are many different combinations of features of creative commons licenses, a simple way to ensure the appropriate acknowledgements are made, http://www.imagecodr.org/get.php, extracts the information about the creative commons license and displays a small image below the image along with the creator’s flickr handle and provides the html text that will display the image on your post in the appropriate size and CC notation. The image at the top of this page is an example of a creative commons image from Flickr.com.

Another reason to include images in your social media posting – you need an image in order for your readers to “pin” your post to Pinterest. Look forward to more on that platform in a later Marketing Monday post.

More posts about the value of including images in your social media posts:

Where to find images, most at no cost or with creative commons licenses.