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Content Vs Context: The Battle Of The Visual Vs Text

A picture speaks a thousand words!

This age old idiom still remains true to this day, with images taking pride of place among the halls of viral fame on the internet. The last few years has seen rapid changes in the way in which people use the internet with Facebook now ranking as one of the top activities online.


So what does this mean for brands?

Each platform has its own rules and best practises with regards to visual content. So how can you be sure to get it right each time and make sure you always drive the best response. The most fundamental rule when it comes to using images is quality. Facebook actively rewards image quality and includes it as one of major Edgerank formula constituents. Quality doesn’t mean that you need to arrange a photoshoot for every image you want to post online. There is no reason to dig deep into your pockets. Facebook is looking for original content, content suitable for your audience and basic image quality levels, good resolution and appropriate sizes for the newsfeed. This is why creating your own meme will result in a more successful organic campaign than recycling existing content.


While Facebook is the only platform I am aware of to apply these rules to image content (YouTube’s content matching is something similar but for video) Twitter, Pinterest and other content communities will be moving towards this solution in the future to encourage content creation.

So what role do words have to play?

Even the greatest pictures in history have titles. It isn’t enough to throw out high quality images to people and not set the scene. Calls to action and engagement can only be driven through asking, holding the hand of the user and encouraging them to get involved with your brand is vital for success both socially and achieving a brand connection to the individual. On twitter for instance the click through rates on image based tweets is far superior to that of text only. Why? Because people want to expand the image and see the full context of the tweet only if in passing. By doing this they have then spent much longer looking at your tweet from your handle, with your text in front of them than the others in the feed. You have made a connection greater than those of the surrounding text only tweets. The danger is if the image is of low quality, or not suitable for your brand, then this connection you have made can be a negative one. Treat every image you post as the potential first brand engagement/exposure a user has had to your brand. Treating each post with this regard will ensure consistent quality but also make sure that you are keeping your tone of voice and brand values at heart of social media.

There is still plenty of argument for text only; on Facebook for instance the text only posts will receive greater organic reach in comparison to images. Why? The value of space on the Facebook timeline, text only articles take up less room and Facebook has the ability to use them to fill space and diversify the timeline from images.

In summary I would say that Content is King but Context is queen. The only way to make the most of your content is to set the context using words. Explain and instruct your audience, encourage engagement and keep it diverse.

Dan Barr

I'm a Social Media Executive (Global Community Manager). Previous work includes writing for Social Media Frontiers and working for a major DIY retail company as part of their social media strategy team I have an MA in Sports Journalism and especially love the combination of social media and sport.

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Content Vs Context: The Battle Of The Visual Vs Text Reviewed by Alex Carson on Friday, March 28, 2014 Rating: 5
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