The power of the visual

By: Jordan Ross

For most people, social media can be an online platform to create and share content and participate in a larger social network. For PR practitioners, social media can be fun, but for many, it is their job to manage social media. While this may sound like fun, it is also a job where you are measured by the results you can achieve.

One of the main ways that someone running social media measures their results is by looking at their analytics. By looking at your analytics, you will know how much your posts are reaching your audience and how many people are engaging with those posts.

By looking further into your analytics, it can be noticed that posts that include some sort of visual media are seeing higher rates of engagement. The three main forms of visual media that can be included with social media are images, animated GIFS and videos.


If you look at any major social media site, you will notice that many of the posts that are more engaging contain some sort of image. When posts only contain words, users do all the work by reading, and let’s face it, people don’t want to read. People have enough to read at work and school, and when they go on social media they just want to relax. With images, the content comes straight to the user, making for a better viewing experience. Furthermore, images contain much detail, which makes it easier to describe something instead of using words. An image helps bring things to life and engages the audience.


Source: Socially In


Today, people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. This means they want to get their information fast and on demand, and GIFs can be perfect for that. Since a GIF is a short-length video and not just a still shot, it can contain a lot more information than just a picture. Depending on how creative you get, you can pack a great deal of information into a short amount of time. The GIF also replays, which helps people remember what they are seeing.

Many GIFs are humorous as well and can be very entertaining to watch. If a PR practitioner or anyone running social media can find a way to blend humor with whatever it is they are trying to do, then it can create a lasting impact on whoever is watching. You can create your own GIF by recording and crafting it to your needs. There are also many GIFs readily available on the internet. The website GIPHY is filled with thousands of GIFs that fit all sorts of situations that can be used to engage your audience.


Video has become a major tool used to engage with an audience. The amount of video that is being consumed online has increased dramatically in just the past few years. This is especially the case on social media. On the home feed for many of the social media sites, you would be hard-pressed not to find some sort of video posted by individuals or companies. Unlike a GIF, more information can be included, and there are many ways in which creativity can be used to increase the engagement that the video draws from an audience. There is no set time length that the ideal video should be, and other analytics from your site can be utilized to tailor what it is your audience likes to see. We are what many people are referring to as the “golden age of television” due to the amount of TV shows and video that companies are releasing, not only on traditional TV, but newer forms, such as Netflix and YouTube. People love to watch video, and that can be included in social media efforts to draw in that audience.

There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I can only imagine what type of worth can be placed on GIFs and videos. In the world of social media, any type of visual aid to go along with the message that you are trying to convey can help greatly. Words can be included in a visual aid, but it is the visual itself that grabs people’s attention. With social media, the mission is to engage with the audience that you are trying to reach.

Reaching a large amount of people is great, but you are not building relationships if you are not engaging with them, which is what PR is all about. With the use of images, GIFs and videos, you are providing your audience with content that appeals to what many people are looking for these days. People are more willing to engage with you if you give them content that is worthy of engagement, and visual media has proven to be just that.

Jordan Ross is a senior at Eastern Michigan University majoring in public relations and minoring in communications. Jordan is in his first semester serving as the Vice President of Professional Development for EMU’s Eleanor Wright Chapter of PRSSA. Jordan is also a member of EMU’s Honors College and serves as the President of the EMU Student Center Student Employee Advisory Committee. You can find Jordan on Twitter @_JJRoss.


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