A picture is actually worth a lot more than 1,000 words. Using the right image can determine whether someone clicks on a social media post, keeps reading, or takes a meaningful action.

We all know the old saying: a picture is worth 1,000 words. But the truth is, the right visuals are worth even more.

Research led by communications scholar Kate Keib of Oglethorpe University showed not only that an image in a social media post largely determined whether it would get any engagement, images are also crucial in eliciting an emotional response from a user. Why is that significant? Once a user has an emotion about such content, they are far more likely to share it. This is critical for people and organizations who are working to make behavior change happen.

Keib's work used eye-tracking to measure responses and engagement and was focused on news articles on social media, but the findings certainly have bigger implications. The right visuals can make all the difference in whether the target audience feels connected to and responds to content. The takeaway is clear: Connecting with audiences on an emotional level is a must.


Picture This: The Influence of Emotionally Valenced Images, On Attention, Selection, and Sharing of Social Media News