Deserted beach, ocean rollers, blue sky and cliffs
Mar 24, 2016
Amanda O'Donovan


A picture can be worth a thousand words. There’s no doubt that, in moments of genius, a complex idea can be distilled into a single powerful shot. The image of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian boy on the beach, stood alone. Shockingly, it conveyed the human impact of the refugee crisis. And subsequently, the grief of a single father brought attention to the desperation of millions. Without a word, that image created a powerful humanitarian response to a crisis that has reduced the population of Syria by half, through death or displacement.

But, in a world where content is King, a standalone image will not always deliver your entire message. Have you ever looked at a wordless Instagram post and wondered, “What’s that about?” before quickly swiping to the next image bite.

Get to the Point of Your Post

Pause for a moment to think about the many happy-couple photos you’ve seen posted from beaches and bars across the world. Without context, do we really know the purpose of the post, the meaning that lies behind the image? Are these two people genuinely sharing a happy moment, or desperately hanging onto the threads of a relationship, trying to convince themselves, and their friends, family and followers, that there’s no trouble in paradise? What happened immediately before or after an image was taken can alter the story significantly. By accident or by design, wordless pictures can mask deceit.

Make Your Content a Call to Action

Mute photos of the great outdoors are also a cause for concern. Alone, beautiful landscapes remain just that, moments frozen in time, admired by many, but not necessarily understood, and often discarded once the thrill has passed. Throw in a few well-chosen words, and you’ll add context…even create an emotional connection with anyone who has been attracted by the stunning shots. If you’re posting as an individual, your words might provide a way of tracking your travels (to reassure a worried parent or update friends). If you’re in business, those words could add context to your image, and let people know about your photography, travel or accommodation services. Go one step further and include a call to action, a link in your bio, giving your followers information about why and how to contact you, where to buy your book, where to find your website or the location of your cozy BnB. Your words will not only support your spectacular image, but they can also provide essential information that could turn passive admiration into several meaningful trips to a bucket-list destination.

Amanda O’Donovan is a Senior Content Writer + Communications Specialist, based in Toronto. You can contact her at 416.456.3859, or through LinkedIn