Most businesses now have some form of social presence. Instead of only having a website, they also probably have ongoing, active efforts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or even Snapchat. Social media has allowed brands to connect with their audiences in more meaningful and informal ways than previously possible. However, as more brands participate, the space has become very, very crowded. It is more difficult to reach consumers over the noise of other voices.

Not only is their more competition but it is also becoming more difficult to grab the attention of individuals. One  alarming study found that the attention span of a human is now only eight seconds--which is said to be one second shorter than that of a goldfish.

How can organizations hope to engage individuals with these challenges? The answer is through visuals. The overall trend in social media today is to be as visual as possible. In fact, almost 66 percent of social media posts are visual. Why are visuals crucial to social media success and how can brands utilize them in their content? 

Many people are visual learners.

Over 90 percent of information that is processed by the brain is visual. Furthermore, humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Overall, visuals are easier to process and remember than text content. This makes them more likely to strike a chord with readers and more likely to be shared.

When presenting information to constituents and other audiences, organizations should incorporate visuals wherever possible. This is especially important for data visualization. Many companies have starting using infographics in recent years. Infographics combine statistics and information with interesting graphics. Organizations that have incorporated them into their marketing have reported as much as a 12 percent increase in traffic as a result. 

Imagery grabs attention

There are over 1.5 billion individual units of content generated every day, according to HubSpot. YouTube estimates over 100 hours of video is uploaded to the site every minute. On Twitter, over 140 million tweets are posted every day. 

In other words, there is a lot of content online, and brands need to be creative in order to grab the attention of their audiences. People are attracted to compelling imagery, videos and other graphics. One powerful image can say more than 1,000 words. It can stir emotions in individuals and motivate them to act.

Videos are even more effective. Cisco predicts that by 2019, 80 percent of all online traffic will be videos. Direct Marketing reports that nine out of 10 consumers watch at least one video per week. Instead of reading a how-to article or press release, more consumers would rather watch a video. Including a video in blogs, emails, and other written content increases the chances that individuals will open and view content in its entirety. The absence of video can even cause you to lose customers, with many consumers admitting they would lose interest in a brand that does not have videos.

Visuals are easily shareable

Social posts can generate up to 94 percent more views when they contain compelling visuals. In general, posts that contain visuals are more likely to receive shares, likes, or comments than text-only posts. This is because individuals are more likely to engage with content that includes powerful imagery and graphics.

Several studies have shown that social media engagement is directly affected by the presence or absence of visuals. For example, the website analyzed the top Facebook posts from over 30,000 brand pages and found that posts with photos produced the most interactions at 87 percent. Another study found that tweets that include photos receive 150 percent more retweets.

In order to engage with audiences on social media, businesses need to start thinking visually. Infographics, videos and compelling photos are some of the most engaging types of visuals that business can use to connect with their audiences. In the sea of noise called the Internet, businesses need all the help they can get to actually reach potential customers.