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Research: More People Will Tweet a Post With a Cartoon Than a Photo

You’ve worked hours to create a compelling article for your website or blog. The next question is:  will it be shared on social media such as Twitter? After all, you want your content to be seen and appreciated.

Adding a photo will make your article more interesting.  But recent research shows that a cartoon may work even better when it comes to getting others to tweet your content on Twitter.

Cartoon vs Stock Photo Tests

In three recent tests [1], cartoonist Mark Anderson of Andertoons [2] (note, a contributor at this publication) demonstrates that including a cartoon on your post or website will make it more likely for people to share your content on Twitter than if you add a stock photo to the exact same content.

Test 1:  In the first test, he showed online participants two dummy blog articles, one article displayed above the other on the page. The top article contained one of his original grayscale cartoons. The second article showed a color stock photo purchased from a third party website.

For ease of viewing, we’ve simply showed the two articles side by side below so you can get an idea of what the posts looked like. In the tests they were arranged differently.

Cartoon vs stock photo [3]

When participants were asked which blog post they would rather share on Twitter, 90% chose the blog article containing the cartoon.

Test 2:  To double check his findings, Anderson decided to vary the placement of the posts on the page.  He reversed the blog posts with the one containing the color photo at the top of the page and the one with the grayscale cartoon farther down below it. As it turned out, 57 percent of those seeing the page still indicated they would prefer to tweet the blog post with the cartoon — despite being located lower down on the page.

Test 3:  Next, Anderson showed participants a single article on a page.  One page had a single dummy blog post with a cartoon in it. The other page had the same article, but with the stock photo. Again, participants showed a clear preference. Seventy five percent (75%) chose to share the page having the cartoon in it.

When Anderson added a quality post instead of the dummy content he had been using in the previous tests, the cartoon still won out. Sixty-four percent (64%) of participants still preferred the post with the cartoon.

Why did so many prefer cartoons?

According to some, cartoons were preferred because they seemed informal and added more content interest than stock photos.

Anderson says he used Verifyapp.com [4] from Zurb for the test.  Enrollapp.com [5] was used to provide anonymous paid participants.

Participants were asked to add comments on why they made their choices. One said the cartoon made the content feel more informal and that this informality seemed in step with the Twitter audience. Another said the cartoon added value to the other content on the page while the stock image was just “decoration.”

How to use cartoons without violating copyrights 

As with any image you use, make sure you have the proper rights to use it.  Cartoons and stock images — like all original works — are automatically protected by copyright from the moment they are created. It doesn’t matter whether they have a copyright notice on them or not.  Copyright law in most countries does not require a copyright notice.

If you decide to try out cartoons, please remember that Mark Anderson of Andertoons, like many other professional cartoonists, is self-employed. Self-employed cartoonists make their living through selling their work.

We’ve made it risk-free to experiment.  In our Small Business Trends business cartoon gallery [6] we offer six Andertoons cartoons royalty-free.  You will not violate copyrights by using those six.  (We’ve purchased the rights to make them publicly available to you, royalty-free).

Then when you see how well cartoons work, consider a low-cost cartoon subscription [7] from Andertoons. That will give you the legal right to pick and choose from a wide range of cartoons for your website, blog, email newsletters and so on. You’ll have a large supply of images and not have to worry about copyrights coming back to bite you.