We’ve all heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s one of those English language idioms that’s hard to attribute to a specific person, but seems to be mostly attributed to Fred Barnard in the 1920s. But so what if you’ve heard that phrase? Why should you care?

Well, there is quite a lot of research on social media that shows that you really should include a visual when you post something. Pictures help with our recall as typical info retention is only 10% three days later, but if you saw it with a photo you’ll retention will be 65% instead. But it’s not just a matter of information retention. Presentations with photos are 43 % more persuasive than those without, and articles with images get 94% more total views. Why is that? It’s because visual content is both an efficient way to transmit information and evokes an emotional reaction in your audience.

Associating information with an emotional trigger helps to increase shares on social media. For example, tweets with photos have been shown to be retweeted 35% more than those without photos. Why does this matter? It matters because social media posts that get more likes, shares, and retweets get out to a wider audience than those that already follow you. In fact, any interaction with your posts will increase your reach – comments by friends show up in Facebook feeds for example – bringing your message to the friends of your friends. In a Six Degrees of Separation world, this is the best way to leverage the social part of social media.


Six Degrees of Separation, or perhaps our favourite game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

So, the next time you share an update on your platforms, be sure to include an image to inspire greater engagement and brand recall with your network.

But remember, choose photos that have a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose. Otherwise, be sure to follow the guidelines of each license and credit the creator of the work you’re borrowing.

Here are the best 7 sites for free images in 2018:

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