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Guest Post from Shayla Price. Shayla lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology, and social responsibility. Twitter: @shaylaprice.

Show, don’t tell. That’s the new motto of online marketing.

Visual storytelling is staking its claim into business strategies across several industries. From Lowe’s six-second Vines to Etsy’s Pinterest boards, top brands are seeking new, eye-catching ways to gain their audience’s attention.

Socialbakers.com reports that Facebook posts with photos saw the most engagement, receiving 87% of total interactions. That’s why it’s no surprise that 71% of marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing.

If less text is better, how can you use visual storytelling to communicate your business’s values and products to consumers?

Exclusive Bonus: Download my visual storytelling cheat sheet for quick reference on how to nail visual content and get noticed online.

Why Visual Storytelling Works

Humans are hardwired to be visual first and verbal second. The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text.

A study by John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, found that people only remember 10 percent of what they hear. However, when pictures accompany the verbal information, our recall jumps to 65 percent.

This research opens doors for marketers, like yourself, who are seeking innovative ways to reach their online target markets. Images and video can help companies keep their brands in the forefront of customers’ minds.

Social media posts with visuals deliver 180% greater engagement. No wonder, inbound marketing experts at Hubspot encourage interaction amongst their Facebook fans through captivating imagery and limited text.

Image1_Hubspot

Where does video fit into this visual storytelling equation?

Using video gives customers a better overview of the company’s products. According to Invodo, Step2 shoppers who viewed their product videos were 174% more likely to purchase than shoppers who did not.

Visual storytelling helps customers make informed decisions, while increasing revenues for businesses.

Key Message: Humans respond better to visual aids than text. Give your customers an opportunity to literally see your brand messaging.

Visual Content & Brand Identity

As visual communication continues to grow, audiences will desire more well-designed content. Therefore, producing the best content will rest on how effectively your team can integrate your brand with your audience’s needs.

Writer Katy French says that “distinguishing your brand is the only way to cut through the content fog.” All your content is a reflection of your company and each visual piece should reinforce your brand.

Keep these three factors in mind:

  1. Consistency

Only a few short years ago, marketers thought of content marketing as a tactic and not a long-term solution to engage people. Today, our perspectives have changed, and we understand the importance of creating a variety of mixed media.

Since visual content has now found a permanent spot in our marketing strategies, we must develop processes to ensure our visual content is consistent with our brand identity. Consistency begins with building visual guidelines to ensure a brand’s image is not only appealing but also effective.

Ted Karczewski, content marketing manager at Skyword, recommends to start with what worked well in the past. The goal is to “uncover synergy between traffic and the images” paired with stories. Then, focus on setting a theme, finding sources, and setting guardrails in your strategy.

Visuals must match your overall brand messaging. Toyota values adventure. Here’s an example of how that value is portrayed in their Facebook images:

Image2_Toyota

  1. Authenticity

Sometimes, it may feel like we live in two different worlds: one full of truths and the other  consisting of hoaxes. From awkward selfies to unwitty quips, consumers can easily spot authenticity.

Adult consumers are bombarded with 360 advertisements per day. Therefore, people understand that brands are constantly vying for their attention.

The best brand position is an authentic one. So, say goodbye to unoriginal stock photos and the belief that a logo update every six months will work.

Instead, offer people real-life, visual examples about how your products change people’s lives. Deliver on brand promises by displaying efforts, not downplaying complaints.

With a little A/B testing, your company can experiment with the authenticity of your visual content.

  1. Relevancy

Breathtaking images and interesting videos attract eyeballs. However, how do you keep people glued to your messaging?

Content with relevant images gets 94% more views. Relevancy connects your brand to the desires and concerns of your customers. No one will take a second glance at your messaging if doesn’t affect them directly.

Contently does a great job with providing their readers with timely information. Their visuals appeal to people’s emotions and invoke an action-oriented attitude.

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More importantly, be mindful of cultural sensitivity. Don’t alienate or demean the audience you’re trying so hard to seduce.

Key Message:

Types of Visual Content

When developing your content marketing campaign, it’s essential to pair your text with the appropriate visuals. Your mission is to produce the right combination of words and images to stimulate online growth and engagement.

Take your marketing efforts to new heights with these 4 types of visual content:

  1. Infographics

Infographics are great tools to transform complex data into easy-to-understand visuals. Forbes contributor Kern Lewis says, “The goal of the infographic is to make you look smart.” You want people to be interested in what you have to say.

When working with a designer, discuss how the colors, shapes, and fonts will combine to produce a worthwhile image.

The information within the infographic also must be accurate. So, use authoritative sources.

Don’t underestimate the power of promotion. A great infographic still needs to be distributed in order to gain exposure. So, tap into your influencer network and social media platforms to spread the word.

Here’s what should be included in a shareable infographic:

Image4_ShareableInfographic

 

 

  1. Memes

Does your brand invoke laughter in others? Then, visual content is definitely a great approach to showcasing the art of funny.  

Popular internet memes let companies be human without the corporate stigma. Memes partnered with your social media plan can produce front-end engagement and long-term awareness.

To bring attention to the series’ return, Arrested Development created funny memes for their fanatics. The campaign reminded fans of their favorite scenes, while drawing excitement and social media shares.

Image5_ArrestedDevelopment

  1. Videos

Amp up your visual strategy with the use of videos. They can show consumers exactly who you are and how your brand fits into their lifestyles.

A great video adds credibility. Moreover, a study found that adding video to a landing page could increase conversions by 86%.

Several types of videos can give your brand a visual uplift. Consider the following:

  • Explainers
  • How-tos
  • Customer testimonials
  • Animations
  • Demonstrations

Don’t forget that your videos should match your overall brand style. Dove inspires thoughtful conversation around its brand’s values. Take a few pointers from Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign.

Image6_Dove

  1. Photography

Stunning photography can tell incredible stories. Start with a creative concept that illustrates your company’s advantages in a memorable way. Or even give customers a behind-the-scenes peek at product production.

The human touch adds emotion. If you’re in the service industry, take workplace photos of people in action. It’s highly relatable and gives your audience a visual connection to your brand.

Toms executes bold photography by showing how consumers’ dollars help their philanthropic goals.

Image7_TOMS

Key Message: One size doesn’t fit all. Use different types of visual content to convey your brand message.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my visual storytelling cheat sheet for quick reference on how to nail visual content and get noticed online.

Brands With the Right Strategy

No doubt, visuals are changing the content revolution. Marketing teams around the world are visually-driven to reach their target audience.

Need some inspiration? Below are three brands crushing visual content.

  1. Grammarly

Grammar and proofreading may seem like a dull topic to market. However, the Grammarly team knows how to spice up subjects like punctuation and vocabulary.

In their hilarious Grammarly Cards, the brand conveys their values and how people can benefit from their subscription plans.

Image8_Grammarly

  1. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is obviously loving visuals. The mega soft drink brand gives its audience vibrant and quirky images. Their specialty is interactive content centered around designing animated GIFs.

Check out Coca Cola’s Tumblr page. You may be inspired to use animation as part of your content marketing plan.

Image9_CocaCola

  1. Nike

Nike understands consumers’ behaviors and how to captivate their emotions. With a strategic use of motivational hashtags, the footwear and apparel brand celebrates and empowers people through amazing Instagram photos.

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The images depict moments in sports history, extraordinary feats by average people, and everything embodying the “Just Do It” attitude.

Key Message: Implement a visual content strategy that piques your audience’s interest. Learn best practices from industry leaders.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my visual storytelling cheat sheet for quick reference on how to nail visual content and get noticed online.

3 Ways to Nail Visual Storytelling

To make visual storytelling work, it takes more than just a few photos posted on Twitter. Visual content needs to be crafted carefully.

Customers’ first impressions will be based on your imagery selection. Use the following techniques to create exceptional content pieces.

  1. Personalize Your Stories

No more creating messages that speak to everyone. Those mass production days are gone. And quite frankly, that method didn’t work well anyway.

Content personalization is where you should focus your efforts. In order to customize the visual branding experience, your team must be comfortable with exploring special features and new technology, like Periscope or Blab.

General Electric offers hyper-personalized content based on their themes of science, technology, and innovation. The brand segments their audiences and provides valuable content to each. Watch GE’s science lessons on Vine.

Image11_GE

  1. Offer Shareworthy Material

Do people like sharing uninteresting, mundane content? No way.

Your audience wants to share material that offers value, makes them look intelligent, and adds validity to their arguments.

To benefit from word of mouth promotion, you must deliver visuals that bring the awe factor. Promote unconventional stories, leverage online trends, and then analyze what your audience considers shareworthy.

When your brand can positively affect the sharer’s reputation, you will begin to see the effects of creating shareworthy content.

  1. Leverage User-Generated Content

Whether it’s experiencing the birth of a new child or backpacking through the wilderness, people like posting content about their memorable moments. This is an opportunity for brands to integrate their customers’ lives into visual marketing initiatives.

Leveraging user-generated content adds authenticity. Tying customers’ stories to your brand, invokes a new degree of awareness and validates your products and services to potential consumers.

For instance, Warby Parker introduced its home try-on service to customers. The company encouraged eyeglass wearers to take pictures of themselves trying on different pairs.

Consumers then could share the images online using #WarbyHomeTryOn to get a second opinion from their social media following.

Image12_WarbyParker

Key Message: Shake up your visual storytelling with personalization, shareworthy concepts, and stories from your shoppers.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my visual storytelling cheat sheet for quick reference on how to nail visual content and get noticed online.

Entice Your Audience With Visual Content

It’s time to resonate with your audience on a whole new level. Visual storytelling can help your business generate brand awareness and build quality customer relationships.

From infographics to video, showcase your brand personality. Consistent and relevant messaging will ensure that your brand identity remains memorable.

Seduce your audience. Be visual.

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