Tuesday, August 14, 2012

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?

If you are interested in more findings and more business implications of my study, please stay tuned and I will provide the hyperlink of the publication as soon as it becomes available online.



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