Digital Strategist for the North American Division.
Pictures and video are taking over on social media, which is evident with the rise in popularity of platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. According to Instagram, 80 million photos are shared per day on the app. But it’s not enough to just post images; they have to be good images that evoke a positive reaction. Social media is like a constant conversation, and compelling images help you stand out in the newsfeed.
This means we need to divorce ourselves (at least in digital communications) from the cherished images of our childhood, in favor of images that can capture the attention of a wider (and younger) audience.
This is especially important for reaching Millennials and the emerging Generation Z. They spend up to nine hours a day on social media and are constantly bombarded with messages that challenge their beliefs. Many of these conflicting messages seem very relevant and enticing to them. “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Therefore, we must speak to them in a “language” and style they understand or else we will continue to lose them on account of our own irrelevance.
Part of the success of our campaigns geared towards young adults, such as #HopeTrending and @iBelieveBible, can be attributed to the fact that the communications style, design, platforms, and images are all geared towards young people. The #iBelieveBible project is a prime example as it is content created by young adults for young adults―presenting difficult topics in an un-sanitized and provocative way that welcomes honest conversation.
To get you started, here are some helpful guidelines for choosing strong images:
To learn more about designing for social media, download our digital images presentation.
Case Study: Why the Burning Earth was Not So Hot
How does this principle play out in real-life digital campaigns? In the fall of 2016, the Chesapeake Conference piloted the Voice of Prophecy Series, “Revelation Speaks Peace,” in 30 churches. To promote awareness around the series, we placed ads targeted at two groups of people in the area. The first group was local Adventists, and the second group was locals interested in the following topics: Bible, Bible prophecy, Christianity, prophecy, spirituality, and religion. Adventists were excluded from the second group.
For each of the two ad groups, the message was the same: “What is happening in the world today? Join us to unlock the secrets to peace and a hope-filled future. Register to attend at a location near you!”
However, we tested a mix of provided images (more traditional) against stock imagery available from Facebook.
We found that for the non-Adventist group, the stock images from Facebook (below) had the strongest click-through rates, and/or highest relevance rating. Each image evokes a sense of conflict, journey, and/or loss of hope.
For the Adventist group, the following images performed the strongest.
For the Adventist group, we saw mixed preferences toward both the stock images and the classic Adventist imagery. The strong performance of more traditional Adventist imagery may be due to a type of “brand awareness” among our members. Having said that, the stock imagery did outperform the more traditional Adventist imagery even among Adventists, and especially among the under 35 crowd.
I also wonder if images like the “burning earth” actually repel audiences more than interest them, especially among non-Adventists. Such images convey a sense of condemnation and judgement, when people are looking for freedom from fear and confusion. The clock above the earth may not be understood by people unfamiliar with the prophecies. These are just theories, but what we know for sure is that people respond more positively to fresher, modern images that reflect the human experience.
In terms of “Revelation Speaks Peace,” we know this advertising was successful because over 50% of the people who attended were non-Adventist. Normally we would not expect more than one-third of the participants to be from outside our faith.
To learn more about the “Revelation Speaks Peace” campaign, download the full report.
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