There’s no denying it. Internet users are easily distracted. They get bored quickly and need almost constant visual stimulation. Your content may be amazing, but without a few pictures to grab the attention of a reader, you might as well have a page full of question marks.
You should always include an image with your online content, whether it’s your landing page, a blog post, article, even in your e-mails. The right image will draw the eye of your readers and capture their attention with enough impact that they stop jumping from page to page and actually read what you’ve written.
For example, extensive eye tracking research conducted by Jakob Nielsen's UseIt organization found that when shown a company directory, users spent 10 percent more time viewing the portrait photos than reading the biographies, even though the bios consumed 316 percent more space.
An image helps tell a story. It can give immediate clues about the content it’s tied with. I know that I find using an image in a social media post brings higher engagement from fans than a text update.
Which Images to Use
A word or two about what images to use.
Visual bloat or the use of images for fluffy, feel good, look at our professional looking staff is not a good thing. Use everyday people doing real things. Some of the best shots are candid shots that feature your customers or staff members doing normal things that don’t appear posed.
There’s a time and place for stock photos, but make sure they don’t look posed or odd. Don’t show pictures of young, tanned models in suits to represent your staff if, well, that’s not who works at your business.
Use images in your Facebook or Google+ status updates (Google owns photo sharing site Picasa and integration with G+ is pretty seamless) and encourage your followers to post their comments. Ask them to post photos of their own to encourage even more interaction with images. More photos equal more attention. I’ve even found that posting the image from a blog post and then describing it draws more attention and views than a typical update with thumbnail.
Other Sources for Images
While I think shooting lots of things that go on around you is an effective way to get great images, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to find stunning pictures to use. There are many places online where you can find images that are free to use, such as:
Flickr Creative Commons: more than 6 billion images and 51 million registered users; copyright-free images to be used with creative commons license
Stock.XCHNG: nearly 400,000 images; copyright-free
Photobucket: more than 9 billion copyright-free images
iStockphoto: nearly 10 million images, clip art, illustrations, videos and music; items are royalty-free and must be purchased for use
Shutterstock: more than 19 million images, videos and illustrations; subscription-based service
Using images from any site will require you to include a credit for the photographer or creator unless you purchase it.
When you take and use your own photos online, you don’t have to worry about copyright issues that come with using someone else’s images. You can store and share your pictures online with sites like Pinterest, Picasa and Flickr.
On Picasa, you can even edit your images before you use them. And apps like Instagram allow you add borders and filters to your images and instantly share them on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
Including photos in your online content makes the difference between something that captures a reader’s attention and a post that gets easily overlooked. Make sure that you include at least one image in your blog posts and in your status updates.
Where do you find images for your content? Do you take and use your own photos?
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
Photo credit: Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock