Image marketing works for two simple reasons. First, people are overwhelmed with information. There is so much data spewing around the web that it becomes a bit daunting to take on new information. It’s time-consuming and overwhelming. This is why content styles have shifted into capsulated conversational pieces and why, furthermore, images have come to be a version of content. If a picture says a thousand words, images beat content in terms of communication. At the very least, they get our attention and give us a clue whether or not reading on will be worth our time.

The second reason image marketing works is because people are lazy. This is heavily premised on the reason #1, where people are too inundated with information. Add to this an increased demand on our times and its limited supply (after all, there are only 24 hours in a day), and you can understand that images are a must-have marketing tool.

Small budget businesses will find this a marketing haven. What could be easier to procure than images and simpler to share? Now here comes the question of procurement versus original images. Of course, original images are preferred since they’re a form of content that will always be tied to your business. Take Pinterest for example. A shared image on Pinterest that is original to your site will always be linked back to your site, and you’ll be credited for it – especially if you leave a small watermark or credit print on the photo.

With curated content, you’re simply a middle man. Still, curation offers an easy escape for marketers who want to be involved but who don’t have the time or resources to create it themselves. Yet I will say that any successful small business owner that’s made it has partly done so because of their original images.

How users implement images can take a variety of forms. There’s direct image sharing on your website or blog. There’s also Pinterest and Tumblr, and there’s often confusion about the latter. Tumblr was around before Pinterest as sort of a photo blog. Pinterest reached cult usage and became a household name for a few reasons, but at the end of the day it still isn’t as diverse or searchable as Tumblr.

The official recommendation is to use both avenues, but to use them differently. Use Pinterest to market and use Tumblr to curate. Tumblr is an untapped well of information, resources and ideas that often don’t make it to the mainstream. Your Tumblr account can include original posts or be curated from similar interests. It’s a fantastic image marketing tool that goes leaps and bounds beyond Pinterest.

WowSlider offers one solution for in-content image sharing. WOW Slider takes a cue from popular trends in image slides or carousels and allows users to easily replicate the design for use in posts or on home pages.

There’s also BufferApp, a timely social media solution that lets you add articles, pictures and videos to your Buffer account that can be shared automatically to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn throughout the day. Included analytics allows you to see which activity is actually getting social media traction and which isn’t. The idea here is to curate without taking time away from your day and to see what type of activity is more rewarding.

But it’s not just any image that works when it comes to marketing. Preferably, your images should have a style and be in keeping with your branding. If your branding emphasizes primary colors and sharp lines, you images should be consistent with that. If your style is whimsical, your images should be also. If you’re curating images, give preference to images that match your brand. If your brand doesn’t have an image, select images that are consistent with one another.