Consider the following: 93% of Facebook's most engaging posts include images; video posts are shared 12 times more often than other posts; and video will account for 80% of ALL Internet traffic by 2019. With numbers like that, if you’re not including visuals in your online content, you’re missing opportunities to engage. Here are 5 tips to create visual content that cuts through the clutter.
Visual content reaches audiences on an emotional level—the kind that entices sharing. Which in turn, strengthens that relationship and extends the reach of your brand. Use these five tips to create consistently compelling visual messages for your brand that drive traffic, increase awareness and promote loyalty across your online marketing.
1) Give your brand a face
No matter the size or model of your business, consumers want to know there are people behind the brand. Whether it’s a candid shot of the talented people working around you, a behind-the-curtain peek at how your product is made or asking for user-generated content, your audience associates a certain level of trust with visuals that humanize an otherwise-faceless brand.
Take a cue from Starbucks, who launched their White Cup Contest a couple of years ago. They asked customers to doodle on their Starbucks cup and submit their image to the contest, choosing a winning entry to serve as the official template for their limited edition cup. Within three weeks, they gathered over 4,000 submitted entries (and a ton of publicity, to boot). The contest just went to show that crowdsourcing creativity to shape a campaign can strengthen your brand-consumer relationship and benefit both sides. Besides, who doesn’t like an opportunity to show off their creative side?
2) Provide instant gratification
The Internet is a visual medium where virality is often delivered in the form of images, videos, memes, or GIFs. Since the human brain can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, it gives brands a leg up in creating visual content that drives immediate response. If there was ever a time to experiment, the time is now.
Canon’s Facebook page is mainly dotted with gorgeous, high-quality pictures and videos, but on occasion, they offer free downloadable and printable assets, like these fun activity sets they posted to help parents keep kids busy on weekends—just in time to combat the back-to-school malaise. Cute, timely, and tangible, visual content like this offers value to an audience and can be tied back to the company’s service offerings.
3) Get people talking
If you want your stories to create an immersive experience, you need to give your audience a reason to picture themselves there to begin with. Knock down the walls of your brand and allow a two-way dialogue:
1) What are the common questions your audience is asking?
2) What are the interests that drive them to act?
3) What are they talking about, worrying about, caring about?
Listen to their answers and leverage their insights to help shape your visual storytelling efforts. Fiat achieved this last year with their Fiat Owners' Stories Project, sourcing fans for personal stories that were later broadcasted on its website and social channels. Fiat regularly shares the stories to help drive a sense of authenticity and community across all of their visual media, a key component of brand recognition.
4) Make it shareable
Anyone can simply hit “like” on Facebook, but for a user to share a post with their network is a commitment. Sharing content is the modern day word-of-mouth, a powerful referral tool in our digital age.
But in order to benefit from this type of endorsement, you need to deliver on both the visuals and the value. Users don’t share posts just because the visual content inspires an “awe” factor. They share because the material resonates with them or portrays them in a certain way. Take inventory of which kinds of content have received the most shares on your social platforms and work that intel into your future storytelling strategy.
5) Fit the message to the medium
Every digital platform comes with its own set of demands and demographics. Don’t expect a video to thrive in one space just because it succeeded in another. Respect the culture of each platform and tailor your content accordingly. Your audience will catch on if you’re aimlessly spraying the same content across all of your media.
Before you decide which visuals to use, you need to understand the context in which you’re presenting information. The services or products you offer should appeal to both sides of the brain: emotional and rational. When you’re brainstorming your next piece of content, consider how your aesthetic will stimulate the senses and engage a consumer on an emotional level. An effective visual will make people feel first, and think second.
Ready to start telling visual stories?
Our free Social Media Toolkit has all the resources you need to build the best content for engaging with your audience. Download it below!
Editor’s note: this blog post was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated to include additional information.