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A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Even though the London 2012 Olympic Games have drawn to a conclusion, many dramatic moments remain vivid in our minds. We must owe thanks to the digital photography technology, which allows us to capture images that we cannot see otherwise with our naked eyes, as suggested in this Wall Street Journal video.

Indeed, visual effect has become very important for internet users --- “A picture is worth a thousand words.” No wonder those photo-based social media apps, such as Pinterest and Instagram, are widely adopted. 

As a matter of fact, I also found supporting evidence in that regard in a recent study of mine (Kwok & Yu, in press). Our analysis of 982 Facebook messages that were initiated by 10 restaurant chains and two independent operators reveals that Facebook messages can be divided into four media types, namely status (with text only), link (containing a URL), video (embedding a video), and photo (showing photos). Statistically, photo and status receive more “Likes” and comments than the other two types.

What do these research findings mean to business then? I suggest the following:

·         Focus on short status updates and photo posting rather than hyperlinks and videos.  
·         If a hyperlink or a video is shared, make sure to provide a brief description of the content. A description will probably help “drive” the attention from the audience. It is also hoped that Facebook users will “Like” or post comments solely based on a good description.

Going beyond the research findings, I also feel that forward-thinking companies need to consider the following:  

·         When everyone knows the “tricks” about photos and updates, companies may have to post professional and high quality pictures in order to stand out from the crowd. Most of all, high quality content is also a good indicator for the level of service a company provides. It becomes necessary to hire professional photographers to do the job.
·         “Tell” a story with a series of pictures. It is nice to have a lot of good pictures, but a good story can hook the audience.
·         Provide free WiFi and encourage customers to share updates and photos on social media. I understand that many hotels and convention centers are still charging high price for internet service, but not every customer wants to pay extra fees just to post updates on social media.  

Do you see the importance of photos in business communication? What additional comments and suggestions will you make?



References:
Kwok, Linchi and Yu, Bei (In press). Spreading the social media messages on Facebook: An analysis of restaurant business-to-consumer communicationsCornell Hospitality Quarterly, special issue on Information-Based Strategies in the Hospitality Industry. (doi:10.1177/1938965512458360)
The picture was downloaded from Robinadelson.blogspot.com

Comments

  1. Sydney Karp NSD 314-M001August 29, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    In today's society, more than ever, business communication relys so much on technology and the internet via Facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. Pictures rather than words, or in addition to words, provide an easy way for a point to be made to the audience with which the business is trying to attract. People would rather view a photo straight from the company's Facebook page then have to click on a hyperlink (that may or may not work) and take another moment of their time to be directed to another page. In the grand scheme of things, the current population just wants to get the information they need and move on. People need a clear cut message instead of businesses beating around the bush with extra information and photos that do not rely their point.

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  2. I think that photos are extremely important in todays world, even in businesses. Photographs, in my mind, are always attention grabbers and are more likely to be looked at and thought about. It is easy to scroll through a social media website and not read all the information that is right there, but if a photo is uploaded directly it is attention grabbing, and most likely it will be read and viewed more. I agree that is is important to add a text with the photograph to describe your intentions of putting it out for people to see. People will either be able to disagree, agree, and comment in the conversation that way as well.

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  3. In today's society technology rules the world, there is no question about it and with technology comes the ability to share things like pictures in a matter of seconds that could have just taken place from halfway across the world, which is truly an incredible feat. Photographs are attention grabbing, especially if it is of a newsworthy event that just took place. Recently, a wave of photographs called "memes" have been showing up everywhere and have become mainstream in today's society and are used all over social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. These are pictures usually with a funny connotation to them that describes a popular event that just occurred in a humorous manner. These are shared and distributed all around the world in a matter of seconds, and is just an example of how fastly photos can spread all over the world. I definitely think it can be used for business communication because sometimes pictures can have a more profound and powerful effect than a paragraph because an emotional connection can be established with the picture. Text can be added to help explain the picture but sometimes if the picture is good enough, that's all you need.

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  4. Photographs have been a huge part in our society within the recent years. Today many people don’t read newspaper articles, magazines, or even blogs unless pictures are attached to them. It gives people a more visual thought rather than trying to picture images in their heads. Social media has also made it a lot easier to post pictures and capture moments that people will be drawn to. I think having businesses post pictures about what they are doing or even their products is a great marketing strategy. However, pictures are just as important as the description that describes it. Everyone has different views on a photo so a description can be very important and vital.

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