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Social Media Camp is the national conference on social media that attracts international speakers and attendees. At this year’s event, virtually all presenters agreed that images and video are taking over the internet. What do they mean by this?

 

Consider the following:

  • YouTube is now the second largest search engine – just behind Google – and may soon surpass it. (Don’t feel badly for Google as they own YouTube).
  • Google is now building four-story data centre buildings to house the servers required to support increased data space needed on the cloud for things like images and video. These guys plan ahead. Drastic infrastructure changes from this industry mean something for the future.

Cisco has predicted that by 2017, 69% of all internet traffic will be video. Syndacast has put that number at 74%. Most law firm websites have at last some images – but how effectively do you use them and how many of you have videos on your site?

What’s the Magic of Visuals?     xmas-angel-1434672

It’s actually more science than magic. Essentially, visuals are an easy pathway for us.  Over 60% of our brain is focussed on processing visual information. So it should be no surprise that the majority of us (64%) are visual learners.

Whether you are a visual learner or otherwise, visuals help us to connect to subject matter in two important ways:

  1. Cognitively: images have been proven to improve information comprehension, recollection and retention. And visuals go into our long-term memory. So if you are forcing a sale during a presentation, like a time-share sales pitch, then it’s less important that you are memorable. But if your intent is to have the information recipient contact you down the road when they are in need of your services, then being memorable is pretty important.
  2. Emotionally: images tap into our emotions, attitudes and value systems. They can also move us into the creative, problem solving area of our brain by taking us into our imagination. This assists with comprehension, increases the likelihood that clients will envision what it might be like to work with you, and ultimately increases your chance of being short-listed when they need your services.

How effective is this magic? Various Hubspot articles cite the benefits of visuals as follows:

  • 10% of information heard in a presentation is likely to remembered 3 days later v. 65% of information that included visuals.
  • Content with (relevant) images gets 94% more views than content without images.
  • Presentations with visuals are 43% more persuasive.
  • Articles with photos tend to get more “complete” reads.
  • Video content on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 86%.
  • 52% of marketers surveyed advised that videos produce the highest ROI.

Despite these reports, surely important business people aren’t swayed by images and prefer detailed, logical, analytical paragraphs of text to convince them? Not so. Forbes reports that 59% of executives prefer watching a video to reading text.  And 65% of those will go on to view the website of the company featured.

They aren’t alone. More than 1 billion people (unique visitors) go to YouTube each month to watch 4 billion hours of video. There are a lot of cute little kittens, demos on how to change a car filter  and bad karaoke versions of Bruno Mars songs in there for sure; but there are also lots of product and service videos viewed in that space.

Need more assurances about the power of visuals? Dr. Lynell Burmark, Ph.D., is an Associate at the Thomburg Center for Professional Development and an expert on visual literacy.  She’s a huge supporter of images which she believes dramatically improve comprehension and memory.  She suggests that…

“…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2) […].  Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”

She is also an advocate of the power of an image over words. To prove her point, she uses an illustration that looks something like this:

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A round plane figure whose boundary consists of points in equal distance from fixed point in the centre.

Which gets the point across faster and more effectively? In fact, the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than it processes text.  It’s been suggested that the information retained in 1 minute of video is equal to 1.8 million written words (research by Brainshark).  So a picture is actually worth way more than 1,000 words!

How helpful are images in a body of text? It’s been reported that images placed every 75 – 100 words can double the social media shares of an article. Which reminds me…

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What if you still just plain like words? Then the realities of the Internet are working against you as most users will give a web page, blog post or other content 15 seconds to entice them, or they leave the page.

Are All of These Images and Videos Actually Working?

  • Forrester Research advises that it’s 50x easier to achieve a page 1 ranking on Google with a video.
  • Mist Media reports that the average user spends 88% more time on websites with video.
  • Orion 21 says that videos are shared 1200% more than text and links combined.
  • A Wharton Business School study found that while 50% of people could be convinced by a good verbal presentation, that number jumped to 67% when visuals were included.
  • NeoMam reports that people who are assembling a product are 323% better at doing this with text and images as opposed to with text only.

This love of visuals includes handheld device users. In Q2 of 2015, mobile phones and tablets comprised 50% of video ad impressions.

Firms at least worry about – and some firms pay a lot of money for – SEO in an effort to get the most traffic to their site. But great content is the real key to improving hit rates because it can beat algorithms if your content is shared.  And video helps.  In fact, it’s been suggested that video content is 40x more likely to be shared on social media than any other type of created content.

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The buyer’s journey has changed enormously. A presenter at Social Media Camp noted that the vast majority of internet product and services purchasers do so without ever speaking with the company – just based on content. I appreciate that this might not describe the typical law firm client; but typical is disappearing.  We stream movies from Netflix; we borrow cars from Car2Go or let our cars drive themselves; we are starting to see packages delivered by drones.  And I’m helping to build and market virtual law practices these days.  This isn’t Kansas anymore.

Law firm internet content is primarily for the purposes of educating, reassuring and selling. Global internet usage statistics are telling us that increasingly, internet users prefer to have these purposes fulfilled through images and video.  That’s not bad news, because visuals appear to be more effective in achieving those purposes. They allow us to connect more emotionally with our clients and targets, in a way that is more memorable and potentially more meaningful.  And much more quickly, which is important because attention spans are decreasing. So if we want to remain relevant to our clients, we need to keep up with their processing speed.  As one presenter commented: “The user is further ahead than you are.  You need to meet them where they are”.

Images and video are where they want to go. Will you be there for them?

(First published on SLAW)