Picture This: How Images Can Boost Reader Retention
Let’s face it: in the age of Reddit, Pinterest and Tumblr what you have to say may not be all that interesting. Don’t get me wrong, you may be an extremely capable writer, effortlessly throwing lightning bolts of connection into complex ideas to distill the cold and technical into something more accessible and potable. But how can you compete with puppies getting their heads stuck in peanut butter jars?
Your business is more than just the simplification and transmission of ideas. And at its core, your responsibility to your brand’s online identity consists of grabbing and then holding onto your reader’s attention…then transmitting your message.
But what is the best way to do that? In an age when anyone can literally search more than 58 million hits in less than half a second to important questions such as “What is a Belieber?” getting your content to stand out among all the indirect competition is a tall order.
So, what tools do you have at your disposal that can possibly attract and transfix a reader to your message right away?
Enter images. If pictures are worth a thousand words, which is the ballpark, you should let them do the work and trim your content so it’s all killer and no filler.
How does it work? I’m glad you asked.
Pictures Slow the Internet Down
Just because your most recent piece regarding Deep-rooted Agricultural Practices is getting less traffic than you hoped it would doesn’t mean it is poorly written or fruitless. It probably means you need a better understanding of how people browse the Internet.
When readers come to your site, you often only have a few seconds to make your content stand out and effectively convey your message. If they skim your content and all they see is an ominous wall of text, a strange buzzing starts behind their eyes and guides them over to I Can Haz Cheezburger, relegating your work to the too-long-didn’t-read history.
Images, on the other hand, can carry most of that first-impression weight for you. By adding visual interest to your online content, the images you choose become a kind of story in themselves, illustrating concepts and highlighting key points.
Images have the power to transform potential skimmers and scanners into readers suddenly interested in engaging with the content surrounding the images that attracted them in the first place.
Pictures Cut to the Heart of the Matter
Your manifest function as a blogger is to teach people about your subject. Whether you review books, blog the latest tech-news or report on a different industry, your audience size increases or decreases proportionally with its level of comprehension with regards to your subject. And what is one of the surest ways to increase reading comprehension? By making your audience care.
Pictures have a unique ability to instantly register intense emotions in people. They have the power to provoke a wide range of feelings: love, fear, thanks, misfortune, etc. And since memory is inextricably linked to emotion, to make sense of what they see, people automatically compare images to similar memories they have. For example, try to recall the most significant event that happened to you over the past 12 months. Chances are the moment you thought about was also the most emotional to you.
When you use pictures to urge your audience to feel a certain way, they begin to care about your content. Once they care, they become engaged. Then, when they are engaged, they have a higher chance of learning, or retaining, the information you are presenting.
The moral of the story: retention is the ultimate goal. It’s the most powerful way to connect with people, which should be your main focus with content marketing.