Images can draw in significant traffic to your website. People are always searching for useful images to use in their work and on their websites so having a decent collection of well named images hosted on your site increases your chances of getting searched for. Second to that, if you hit the nail on the head with an image or design you put together then there’s no telling how much traffic you might receive.
The key advantage viral images have over video is the ease of replication. People will save your images to their hard-drives, email them to friends and family or host them on their own site. If people like your image you’ll have no control over where it ends up so think about gently branding it so people know where it came from. We’ve put together a quick guide to viral images and how you might get the best out of them.
Let your designers design
This is a great example of linkbait. If you have designers in house then encourage them to do their thing whenever they have an idea. On the surface it may seem like a waste of time but there are too many people online that need an image to brighten up their day.
I’m not sure what to believe in the case of the image below, it might be real but I get the impression it’s a clever fake by a trusty designer. This flash in the pan idea hit the reddit top spot on Monday 6th April 2009 and probably generated plenty of links for the blog it’s hosted on. If you don’t have designers in house, you could always hire one of ours.
Another good example is the evil baby viral. A bored graphic designer decided to put a kiss mask on a picture of his baby and post it online. The series of pictures he created were all over the internet in a matter of hours, I’m sure you’ve seen it, but just in case:
Make your point visually
If there’s a debate going on that people readily associate with, make your point with an image or design. It’s a cliche to say it, but a picture paints a thousand words and what do you think most people would rather do, read 1000 of your words or look at a nice picture? You can add to a debate publically and have your point of view replicate all over the internet. Here are some good examples.
The above examples are good, specifically the last one which places the creator of the image in the foreground. A vital step if you want to raise the profile of your company. If you have a specific stance on something, communicate it in a clever image, brand it, name it carefully, then seed it in as many places as you can.
It’s an internet favourite. They convey messages quickly and they require active participation from your reader which improves your bounce rate and user experience. They’re a fantastic tool so get creative and think about how you can use them. It’s will only go viral if it’s entertaining, people won’t forward images on if they don’t raise a smile so drop the corporate formalities and embrace the playful nature of the social media masses.
Pie chart meme’s
Here’s a slightly different example. If you haven’t heard about Rick Rolling it’s a definitive signal that you’re not involved in social media anywhere near enough. This image ticks plenty of boxes; internet memes, geeky culture, and brings us neatly onto our next topic.
Display your data in an interesting way
If you have access to data try thinking of ways to make it interesting and legible to as many people as possible, the internet wants to know about what you found. Hans Rosling is an advocate of this approach – your data is a wonderful thing, get it out of your data dungeon and onto the interwebs. Data IS interesting, if you can’t bring people on board with your original research then you’re doing something wrong. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to display data try Hans Rosling (and now googles) gap minder or watch his fantastic TED talk at the 2006 conference.
Talk with a designer/artist/film maker/creative about your data, what it means and why it’s interesting, before you know it they’ll be dreaming up all sorts of concepts on how best to communicate that data to the masses. Here’s two nice examples but there are plenty more here.
People love monsters. So find a picture of one, put it on your blog and then tell everyone about it. Twitter “MONSTER!”, add it to stumbleupon, tell reddit about it (they love monsters) and tell your friends. Unfortunately for you, monsters don’t come around very often making this method somewhat unreliable. We’re probably going to need some monsterbait to get some linkbait, so if you have any ideas let us know in a comment.
Be first to the line
Imagine the internet as a huge encyclopedia of everything that’s ever happened, it’s growing all the time. If you’re a rummager, a searcher, a reader or a delver, you might come across some content gold that the people of internetshire desperately want to see. Decent content is destined to be on the internet, so scan it in and upload it asap.
- Remember that images go viral, that means you’ll have no control over where they end up. Bear that in mind when you’re crafting your image, it might be an idea to brand it (be gentle).
- Host the image yourself. Don’t expect to gain any traffic by hijacking the webspace of someone else. If you’ve spotted an image you want to use save it and upload it to your servers.
- Name the image carefully. That means adding targeted (but not spammy) keywords into it’s name. PLENTY of people search for images, so make yours easy to find.
- Be cool. Don’t just hijack other peoples work. If you do use other peoples work, at least modify it in some creative capacity so you’ve added value.
- Your image won’t go viral if you don’t give it a kick start, so seed it everywhere.
Failing all of that…
Just pet a huge shark. Simples.
50 Viral images
Scary images from the deep
Creepy ads from the past
Pie Chart humour