Originally posted in May 2013 by Social Media Contractors

This past weekend, one of my dearest friends lost his father to cancer. While I struggled with seeing my friend in pain, I hate to admit that at first, I didn’t really feel much of a sense of loss. It wasn’t until I logged onto Facebook and saw a post by my friend that things really sank in.

It wasn’t until that point, either, that I realized just how powerful and emotional social media can sometimes be. Seeing a picture of my friend with his father immediately after talking on the phone with him conjured up a huge mix of emotions on my end. On the one hand, I was sad, but on the other hand, I was happy to see a photo of my friend standing with his father when he was happy, healthy, and full of life.

None of this would have been possible even just a few years ago before sites like Facebook and Instagram were popular.

We could all learn a few things from my experience. Through social media, I experienced emotion that I would not have experienced otherwise.

Pinterest is a prime example of a website capitalizing (in a good way) upon our world of visual culture and emotion. When I think of Pinterest, I think of a few things:

  • Short, sweet messages to get the point across
  • Images which could often work on their own, without a description
  • Emotional appeals to consumers

It’s been shown time and time again that the effective use of emotion is critical to using social media to its fullest potential, and as such it should come as no surprise that Pinterest is very successful. In fact, a report published by the Australian firm Brand Temper found that really, emotion is one of the best strategies for social media.

Here are a few key points from the study:

  • Brands with high awareness but low emotional attachment gain large followings, but generate low engagement
  • The automotive industry ranks high in engagement because car enthusiasts feel an emotional attachement to their cars
  • Images drive more engagement than any other type of update on social media

From all of this, we can learn a few things. For one, appeals to emotion are a great tool for engaging your audience, but also, the fact that images drive high engagement by customers ought to be enough of a hint that images should be a central element of your social media strategy.

The reality is, if you’re not successfully utilizing images (and the appeals to emotion that go along with them) in your social media strategy, you’re really missing out. Whether images are conjuring up emotion after a friend or family member passes away, as in my case, or they’re driving brand engagement with your customers, as they do with Pinterest, they’re a critical part of being engaging.

Images may not always be the answer, but being short on words isn’t always a bad thing. If you do find yourself struggling to put your thoughts into words, try using a photo instead. In that case, an image on social media really can be worth 1,000 words.

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