The pen may be more powerful than the sword, but the images are even more mighty than words!
Images excel in certain types of communication, but are not as effective for other types. Still, it is important to understand which visual content works better than verbal content so that you can choose the best medium for your message.
Here are 3 secrets to help you unlock the power of visual images in your content marketing.
SECRET # 1: The human brain is designed to process images.
Leonardo da Vinci said: “All our knowledge has its origin in our perceptions.”
Humans have five main sensory pathways, but most people rely heavily on their visual sense. Scientists estimate that about 90% of the sensory information that enters our brain does so through our eyes!
It is estimated that 50% of all the resources of the human brain are dedicated to seeing and interpreting what we see. About 30% of our gray matter contains neurons for vision, compared to just 3% for hearing. Of all the nerves that connect to the brain, 40% of the nerves come from the retina of the eyes.
Obviously, our brains are configured to prioritize visual information over other types of sensory information. Vision is clearly the primary pathway for sensory information for most people.
The brain can process visual information 60,000 times faster than it processes textual information. Additionally, researchers have found that visual aids can increase learning by up to 400% compared to teaching with verbal methods alone.
What is all this visual information that our brains are so busy processing? Much of it is processed by our subconscious brain and used for countless instant decisions to keep us safe.
SECRET # 2: Written content is not mainly visual.
The role of written content is often misunderstood; we think of it as visual because we use our eyes to read. But reading is more correctly classified as a verbal task than a visual one.
Consider for a moment that not everyone uses their eyes to read. Visually impaired people can learn to read perfectly well using Braille processing with their fingertips, not their eyes.
Reading is a unique task that involves multiple parts of the brain. But one thing is final: Reading is a high-level abstract reasoning skill. performed primarily by the conscious brain. Reading is a very different brain process than the subconscious visual information described above.
Although most people use their eyes to see a printed page or screen, that is not the most important part of the reading process. We must use the verbal processing part of our conscious (logical) brain to translate those lines and squiggles into thoughts and ideas.
The visual part of the reading task is useless in itself; the verbal part of the task determines the meaning of what we read. It is the coordination of those 2 brain functions that makes reading such a complex skill.
In short, it is more accurate to classify written text as verbal content than visual content, regardless of whether those written words appear in a book or on a PowerPoint slide or on a video screen. Sharing text written on the screen is verbal content, NOT visual!
SECRET # 3: Sharing visual content offers unique benefits.
Traditionally, we have assumed that pictorial information can be translated into words and vice versa, leading to expressions such as: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
But cognitive research has found that these two modes of representing knowledge are qualitatively different and the same information cannot be easily converted from one mode to another.
Dual code, or dual channel, learning theory states that humans use separate channels for mental processing of verbal and pictorial information.
Active learning requires both time and mental space to process information. Working memory, with its limited capacity, is where this active processing occurs and involves the integration of input from verbal and visual / pictorial channels.
When a learner mentally integrates spoken or printed verbal information from one channel with visual / pictorial information from the other channel, this active processing achieves the most successful learning outcomes..
According to Walt Disney, “Of all our inventions for mass communication, images still speak the most universally understood language.”
Educational researchers have documented that we learn and remember better through images, not through written or spoken words.
Images are the language of the subconscious. Visual communication reaches the subconscious mind regardless of your specific customers and prospects, medium, form, or platform of exchange.
The images are concrete and closer to reality. Our eyes and our brain perceive all parts of an object simultaneously as a whole. Rather, reading involves scanning different letters in a linear sequence to recognize individual letters as a word.
There is a whole category of information that is visually processed without some thought involved. Thesis “attributes of prior attention”like color, direction, and pattern, they can convey a wealth of information visually at blazingly fast speeds – in 250 milliseconds!
An example would be using color to make certain elements of written content stand out from the rest. The effect is instantaneous! Preventive processing is one of the ways our visual system can process far more inputs than all the other senses combined.
Much of the sensory information we process is completely subconscious and, as noted above, 90% of that information is visual. That subconscious flow of visual information makes an impression on the mind of your audience. This is extremely powerful and has been used by many politicians and world leaders, for better or for worse.
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT that you haven’t been creating and sharing more visual content.
If our brains are optimized to handle visual information, why do so many people rely on a preponderance of text-based verbal information to convey their message to the intended audience?
The subconscious part of the brain is busy processing sensory input, while the conscious brain concentrates primarily on processing internal information. The conscious brain focuses on its own thoughts, using activities such as planning, abstract thinking, reasoning, and analysis. These thinking tasks are often completely independent of external sensory input.
While our subconscious brain processes all that sensory information, we are not aware of all that activity … because it is happening on a subconscious level. Most of us rarely think about what our subconscious brain is doing, much less how we could improve the efficiency of our brain by providing information in a more desirable format.
If we are not aware of these issues in relation to our own self mental processing, then it is not very likely that we will think about the same problems when communicating with others, as in the marketing messages that we deliver to our clients and prospects.
So my dear reader, you should be commended for understanding the importance of the knowledge in this article and for considering changing the way you deliver your educational marketing or content marketing, or even changing your communications in general.