Move over blogs, articles, and white papers – there’s a new sheriff in town. Visual content threatens to dethrone written content and reign as king in 2014. Back in January, I discussed content marketing tactics for niche markets. If you remember, one of the points made was the need to “mix up” content, which I did throughout the post by providing adorable imagery of a few swanky, decked-out birds. As a refresher, here they are again.
Brands Using Visual Content
Great marketing strategies include more than text and white space – they use visual elements to tell your brand’s story. And, rather unfortunately, some brands caught on a lot quicker than others. Facebook’s recent video marketing campaign, “A Look Back,” nearly broke the internet. I kid you not.
- Facebook – “A Look Back” – In honor of Facebook earning its double digits, the company launched a unique video marketing campaign entitled “A Look Back.” In case you’ve been under a rock the past month, allow me to fill you in. Facebook found a way to compile profile information, like top photos and most popular posts, and create a user-specific video from the content. Walter White’s video is one of many that have risen to viral status.
So far, the results of Facebook’s campaign have been startling. According to Facebook’s VP of Global Marketing, “It nearly broke the internet.” Not hard to believe since the videos have been shared over 100 million times.
- HubSpot – “Meme-jacking” – HubSpot is one of many companies to take news-jacking to a whole new level with the use of images. Famous for “meme-jacking,” HubSpot wrote the guide on this marketing tactic nearly two years ago. Apparently, their strategy is still working. Since some memes receive more interaction than others, HubSpot’s theory is that brands can piggyback on a meme’s popularity to increase engagement and social sharing.
- Starbucks – Eye Candy for Coffee Lovers – Starbucks has been leading the visual content sphere for quite some time. From warmth-inspiring fall images displaying steaming hot cups of cocoa to creative, brand-centered depictions as seen below, Starbucks knows how to use visual content to maximize the reach of its brand message.
How Customers Respond to Images and Video
A recent study found that it takes the human brain a mere 13 milliseconds to interpret an image. Thirteen milliseconds! To put this in perspective, the time it took to read the headline of this blog was about 154 times slower than the rate at which your brain processes images. It’s no wonder that brands around the world are using imagery to entice customers. But the question remains, what factors contribute to visual content’s appeal?
- Color theory – Whether we realize it or not, our innate response to color plays a role in our interest in content. From bold, bright colors to soothing, calm colors, different hues have the ability to arouse emotion and memory. When designing visual content, use a color scheme that mirrors the effect you want your content to have on readers.
- Fonts – Your choice of font will impact whether a customer responds positively, negatively, or at all to your content. The use of font within visual content helps the reader understand the message being conveyed. Remember, if you opt for fancy font you may lose the attention of a formerly captive audience. Readers simply will not put in extra work to read confusing font, no matter how compelling the imagery.
- Know your audience – One of the best ways to get started creating visual content your audience will love is to actually know what they enjoy. Are they social media junkies, busy professionals, or addicted to documentaries? Do they enjoy taking long walks on the beach, going to the zoo, or spending time with family? Think about your audience’s desires, needs, and emotional triggers. What do you think will inspire a response?
7 Ways to Use Visual Content to Tell Your Brand’s Story
Given the widespread use of visual platforms and automation, marketers worldwide are getting more creative when it comes to visual content. A recent report by Eloqua appears to agree, as it estimates nearly 60% of marketers are focused on the creation of engaging visual content in 2014.
What does this mean for your brand? Oodles of competition – the stiff variety. Take note of these seven visual content tactics guaranteed to help visually tell your brand’s story.
- Infographics – Does your brand already have a large amount of content? Are you in fear of spending the next few months concentrating on visual content? Make it easy – take your best content (you know – the epic pieces of research-heavy, informative content) and turn it into an infographic.
Why You Need It: Visual content is shared more frequently than any other type of content. An interesting, colorful infographic positions your brand as an authority while distributing thought leadership. Check out Jeff Bullas’ infographic on visual content to see what I mean.
- Images – Ever wondered how tabloid content has survived so long? It adorns the checkout lines at the grocery store, becomes the topic of buzzworthy blogs, and has even become a semi-trusted news source (thanks TMZ). The secret is captivating images. Tabloids publish shocking images that command attention from bored readers around the world. In the same vein, brands use images to get people talking (in a good way, hopefully).
Why You Need It: Images are an easy way to add value and appeal to your content. Whether you’ve become an amateur photographer or encourage users to submit their own images referencing your brand, images are a powerful tool to add to your arsenal.
- Video – This should be a no-brainer, but I feel like I need to say it again. Brands need video. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, topped only by Google. That means if your brand lacks video content, it’s missing out on a large sector of the global audience. And the greatest thing about video? It transcends language. Videos without words are capable of communicating a powerful message. For an impactful example, watch the trailer for 1982’s Koyaanisqatsi.
Value: Quite frankly, video helps your brand tell a better story. From behind-the-scenes videos to customer testimonials, the power of videos is undisputable.
- Visual social media – Thanks to Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, and many other visually appealing social media platforms, creating and distributing visual content has become commonplace. Some estimates suggest that video-based content gets shared and liked up to 400 times more than text content.
Value: For brands, social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Vine are an easy and free way to communicate a visual message. No intimidating technical training required.
- Memes – As we reviewed earlier, marketing giants like HubSpot have been taking advantage of memes for quite some time. To tell a unique story, however, customize memes to provide your audience with a brand-centered message. For example, reposting the meme below as-is is almost guaranteed to do nothing for your brand. Make sure you’re adding something to the conversation.
Value: Since memes are considered micro content, they’re more likely to be consumed, liked and shared than other forms of content. How many times have you seen this little guy floating around social media?
- Visual note taking – Have you ever spent time wondering, “What was that brand thinking when they created that?” Wouldn’t you like to peel away the curtain that conceals the mastermind process driving the actions of your favorite brand? Similarly, your audience wants to know what your brand is up to in a way that captures attention. With visual note taking, you’re able to digitize the white board and let your audience in on the process.
Value: Sharing brand notes, ideas, and plans through visual note taking is a great way to encourage feedback from customers while testing the potential response to a new product or service.
- SlideShare presentations – If your company is B2B or your audience consists of consummate professionals, spreading memes and funny videos around may not be the best way to provide valuable information. Instead, consider creating web-based presentations that combine engaging graphics with helpful information.
Value: Brands wishing to appeal to a more professional audience find creating SlideShare presentations to be a valuable content marketing tactic. As a bonus, SlideShare is a fantastic way to repurpose content, relieving the need to reinvent the wheel with visual content.
2014: A Snapshot
If you’re not already creating visual content, my suggestion is to get to it as soon as possible. In the time we’ve spent discussing the importance of visual content, thousands of brands have published more images and video on their websites, on social media pages, and in discussion forums.
Without detailed attention to visual content, your brand’s identity runs the risk of becoming buried in the depths of the internet. Don’t let this happen! With the tactics we’ve reviewed, you have the tools needed to start showing off your brand’s story. Now, what is it you want to say?
In what ways is your brand using visual content online?