Both words and visuals tell a story, invoke feeling, and deliver a message to the viewer. When marketing in the age of social media images and videos become the platform to share the company’s message or ideas to a wide, and diverse audience. It can be the case when choosing a marketing strategy to ignore or compromise the written word in favor of an image or video. However, most marketers say that written content still trumps visual when sending a message, and the written word remains a more powerful tool for marketing than visual alone.
When selling a product, or communicating a brand to the consumer the marketer is telling a story to the viewing audience. Through story telling the marketer, is compelling the viewer to take action. When telling an entire story about a brand or product to the viewer, an effective marketer is telling the end user to do something. Whether it is to return to the site, buy a product or subscribe to an email list through story telling the marketer is in effect convincing the user that action is necessary. A complete story that forces someone to take action cannot be told through visuals alone. The visuals can add to the story, but the written words ultimately are the agents that compel the final action.
The facts that lead a person to make a conclusion are very important. The words created drive the factual content home in ways visuals alone cannot. Without written content, a visual is left to interpretation about the presented facts.
While a visual or design element might convince a user to stay on your site after the initial click, it is the content that drives them to return to the site. Offering compelling written content that the user finds useful will often result in return visits to the same site. With social media, the readers engage primarily using the written word in comments. The interaction created by the use of comments through the written word forms a dialogue with users. The dialogue created encourages users to revisit or add additional information and it is these interactions that boost views and hits on the posts.
Words can be intentionally used to invoke different feelings and meanings. Much of the subtlety involved in the written word is lost with visual media. For example, when using Facebook or Instagram users are scrolling through looking at many images, they do not stop to analyze a particular image carefully, they do however skim captions and taglines. When a caption or tagline grabs someone’s attention they then stop to view the visual in a more in-depth manner. With the right combination of intentional well-written content with a visual, the consumer can then complete the action the owner of the content wants. A visual alone will not inspire the same level of action or grab the user’s attention in the same fashion as a well thought out caption.
A visual does not necessarily reflect that the poster is an authority on the subject matter being discussed. A visual can highlight the points being made through the written words provided. The visuals can add impact to the words presented, and the words can add impact to the visuals. The words themselves convince others that you are the authority on the subject matter. Part of brand recognition, or successful marketing requires a level of authority from the company represented.
From a practical standpoint Google and other search engines are trained to pick up keywords. They just do not know how to translate video or visuals yet without text captions and information. It’s the information that drives the individual to your content through search engine exploration, not the visuals.
While both visuals and written content are important in the world of marketing and an ideal marketing plan should involve both, written content should never be ignored in favor of visual. In fact in most cases the written content is the driving force behind action, return visits, and engaging users. These are the reasons some marketers will say that written content trumps visual content.