Let Your Social Content Soar: Why Visual Is The New Headline

March 5, 2015

Legendary advertiser David Ogilvy once said that “when you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” But even a visionary like Ogilvy couldn't predict a social media-driven future in which headlines were stacked on top of each other in an endless stream.

Across social channels, the visual is the new headline. The opportunity to leverage visuals to increase results is staggering: 94% more total views on average are collected by content with compelling visuals than content without visuals. Posts with images are also liked twice as often as text-only updates. This means that content without a visual element will only reach half of the potential audience – and generate less than half of the potential engagement.

Here are some additional stats that reaffirm the need for visual content in your strategy:

In short, social media marketing with visuals generates more views, more engagement, quicker responses, greater influence, and faster processing. Without the visuals, content is at a severe disadvantage in the social space.

Let's take a look at three examples to demonstrate how top brands are using visuals on LinkedIn.

What Top Brands Are Publishing on LinkedIn: 3 Visual Examples

1. Forbes ranks as one of the most influential global brands on LinkedIn, and it’s clear why: most posts they publish contain a relevant visual element. In many cases, these visuals are intended to portray a specific emotion – like an image of a frustrated employee.

Why this is powerful visual content:

  • It provides a visual representation of the message within the content – it’s not just added in for the sake of having a visual element.
  • It is meant to identify with the reader and stimulate action – in this case, the content convinced more than 50 members to comment and like the post just within LinkedIn.

2. Microsoft, another influential global brand on LinkedIn, creates visual elements using content from their employees. The #ICreatedThis campaign highlights the work of Microsoft team members in various departments, and introduces them to the audience through visual content.

Why this is powerful visual content:

  • It personalizes the brand by adding a face and story to those that design Microsoft products.
  • The visuals tell a story, which is spread out across the Microsoft company page feed – all tying back to the hashtag campaign.

3. Mashable is yet another influential global brand on LinkedIn, partly because they utilize image illustrations and composites to supplement their text content. Much like the Forbes posts, these visuals convey specific emotions and ones that might not be immediately understood from just reading the copy.

Why this is powerful visual content:

  • The image is meaningful and valuable – in other words, they aren’t solely relying on stock images.
  • The image reflects Mashable’s brand values. The company’s tone of voice is direct and authoritative, and the image doesn’t hold back on the challenges of confronting your boss.

How to Get Started

Social media and content marketers looking to infuse more visual elements can sometimes run into resource concerns. They may not have the budget to create unique visual elements or purchase licenses from stock photo libraries. Thankfully, new tools and databases are available that make the visual creation/curation process simpler.

These free web-based tools provide simple graphic design capabilities for bloggers and marketers:

These image databases offer public domain and attribution-only visual elements that when used correctly won’t get you in copyright trouble:

The numbers say it all – having visuals in your social marketing will prove more effective than posting text-only content. These examples and resources should help you get started – but if you need even more social proof, check out this video with insights from our own Jason Miller:


Looking for more ways to set your content apart? Download the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn and get ready to take your social media marketing to the next level.