Have you ever wondered why humans create art and when it began? Why do we, as a species, expend resources and effort to produce something that does not appear to increase our chances for survival? Aside from academics, it’s not a question most of us ask.

And yet we should—we need to—think about it because the world, content marketing and the Internet are visual places.

Visuals tell stories and engage

Experts debate when humans began to create art. Some point to the Blombos stone dated 70,000 years ago as Altamira cave painting of a bisonthe start, and others cite a variety of Venus statuary dated between 22,000 and 27,000 years ago. The oldest cave paintings might be the work of Neanderthals and may be more than 40,800 years old.

As a trained designer, I believe that image making is a fundamental part of us, and something that everyone does. We all make marks, create imagery and alter our physical world. We jot notes, snap photos and paint the walls at home. We adorn ourselves with tats, piercings and jewelry. We wear unique clothing. Why? Because we are visual beings.

Content marketing is recognizing the importance of the visual in a big way.  Bloggers and experts from Forbes magazine to Heidi Cohen are writing about the visual, and fake statistics are bandied about to support of the importance of using visuals. But the truth is more compelling:

Facebook’s research notes that posts with an image generate about 120% more engagement, while posts with a photo album get 180% more engagement. ROI Research’s recent study notes that 44% of the 1,571 respondents, the largest group, are more likely to engage with a company or brand when a post includes pictures.

That’s the power of the visual

Take a fresh look at your website. Is it visually appealing? Do the images add value, information and support to the content? If you took all the words away, would there still be a reason to visit your website?

Visual information is leading the social revolution—YouTube and Pinterest succeed because we are visual tree with no leavesbeings, and LinkedIn has made several changes over the last two years that allow users to “beef up” the visual impact of their profile pages. Don’t worry about just keywords, links and rankings. Think about the power of an image.

After all, I can tell you about a tree without leaves or I can show you using an image. Which one do you think has the most lasting impact?

Kathleen Gossman – Project Manager

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