“The web is going visual.” If you follow media trends at all, then you’ve heard this refrain again and again over the last few years: “It’s all about the visuals.”
And you’ve seen it happening, on your favorite websites. As visually-based platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Vine grow and grow – right along with our ability to capture and share images instantly – the social web is flooded with competing visual content.
According to Buzzfeed, every minute web users are:
- Uploading 208,300 photos to Facebook
- Liking 510,000 photos on Instagram
- Uploading 100 hours of video to YouTube
Why? Because we humans like it. Psychological research shows that human brains process images 60,000 times faster than text, and we remember information presented visually far more accurately.
Moreover, giving people what they like works – web users interact with visuals at much higher rates. According to Jessica Gioglio, co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling, “Posts with an album or photo drive up to 180% more engagement than those without, and viewers spend 100% more time on web pages with videos.”
What does it mean for UUs?
If we want people to hear our life-giving message, we need to learn to compete within these visual media. We need to cooperate strategically, in order to collect and curate and share our most compelling images, so that more people can see our life-giving message in action.
Does your congregation’s (or UU organization’s) website feature vibrant images? Does it show smiling, diverse UUs of all ages in action – worshiping, learning, singing, hugging, marching, and having fun?
How about your Facebook page – are you sharing great new images at least weekly?
Do you have a robust photo permissions policy in place that allows you to share great photos on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more?
Share and share alike
As Online Strategist for the UUA, I’ve been encouraging UUA departments to reassess their approach to image-sharing. Now I’m hoping to foment a movement-wide change, in three parts:
- Ask congregations and UU organizations to adopt a permissions policy that allows for sharing by all UU organizations, such as shown in this suggested form.
- Collect images in Flickr groups open to all UU organizations.
- Run monthly photo contests that
- build up our common photo resources
- get UUs across the country voting (and talking/sharing about favorites) online
- reward images that best capture our UU take on themes such as Faith Development, Courageous Love, Forgiveness, and the Meaning of Life.
You can help
With a little creative thinking, we can meet the challenge of the visual web together. Please ask your congregation to consider this new permissions policy, then take photos and share to our UUA Flickr group. And be sure to enter or vote on this month’s photo contest.
Our congregations are chock-full of both interesting people doing interesting things and willing photo-snappers and –sharers. If we can get them together and get those images online, we’ll be showing our message to the world. And growing our influence.
A former editor at Ms. magazine and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Susanne Skubik Intriligator has served as the UUA’s Online Strategist since September 2013. Her experimental position comes to an end after GA 2014, and then she’ll get back to completing her PhD dissertation in digital media, parenting her three kids, and helping out at the local Unitarian congregation she helped to found. She lives in Bangor, Wales. Contact her at email@example.com