The Psychology of Visual Marketing in Social Media

DSM Digital School of Marketing - visual marketing

The old saying goes that a picture speaks a thousand words, and that might not be far from the truth. Humans process images ten times faster than text, and marketing data shows that people engage with visual content a lot more than they do with the text-only variety. This article takes a close look at the psychology of visual marketing, assessing why people prefer images over texts, and offers up a few tricks to ensure that your social media designs are perceived positively and resonate with those who see them:

What is visual marketing?

Visual marketing is essentially the use of promotional content that relies almost solely on imagery to convey a message. We can also describe visual marketing as how images are used to complement texts to improve the retention rate of the information disseminated.

 The psychology behind it

Studies have shown that human beings respond best to nonverbal communication. It’s much easier to tell that a person is in pain by looking at their facial expression, as opposed to asking them how they’re feeling and using their response alone to gauge. Professor and psychologist, Albert Mehrabian, who has made the study of nonverbal communication his life work, estimates that over 90% of all communication is nonverbal.

With this in mind, it’s a no-brainer that visual marketing is showing to be more effective than marketing content without visuals. Images invoke emotions, and there is a close link between emotions and memories. When we see an image that stirs us emotionally, we are reminded of past experiences. The best visual marketers can use pictures that invoke positive feelings, which put us in a reasonable frame of mind.

If you’re in a good mood while consuming the marketing content, you’re more inclined to buy into what the brand is promoting. So, how does this work on social media, where

Visual marketing in social media

Visual marketing has always been commonplace in traditional media, but since most of us now consume information on social media platforms, the visual marketing game has changed a bit. Think of social media as a place where data is consumed in a three-step phase.

The first phase is the most important. It’s called the hook, and the easiest way to ‘hook’ a reader is by using an impactful visual. Once the reader has stopped scrolling to assess the post, the next phase is information gathering. Here the reader will take a look at the post’s copy, scanning it for information to further their understanding of the image. Phase three is when the reader clicks on a link or takes some form of action.

This means that you need to carefully select the images you use when marketing on social media, and ensure that your accompanying post copy is short, relevant to the image, and inclusive of a call to action. We’ve shared a few design tips to help you craft impactful social media posts using effective visual marketing elements:

Social media visual marketing tips

  • Use images with human faces. Studies show that we are drawn to faces, and imagery featuring faces will invoke strong emotional responses.
  • Direct the reader’s eye by having a model look at the element of importance on an image, and if the model is the main focus, have them look directly at the camera – it builds trust.
  • Camera angles are essential. An upward-looking angle signals confidence, while a downward-looking angle invokes a desire to help.
  • Remember colour psychology. Different colours will invoke mixed emotions in readers.

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