We’ve all been part of the ‘content is king/queen/ruler of the marketing world’ conversation and, if you’re like me, you’re on board…and have been for a long time. (I’m not saying for how exactly long because then I’ll feel old.)
Online communities are also on board because they’re serious content aggregators and incubators. This got me
thinking. Is there a way we can capitalize on all of this valuable content? Essentially, how can we get more attention and action out of our content?
Current marketing trends and statistical data confirm that content is vastly more effective when visuals are added. The rise of powerhouse visual online communities like Pinterest and Instagram are applicable proof. In fact, content with relevant images boasts 94% more views than content without relevant images and content views can jump up to 48% if they contain both pictures and videos. (Source: HubSpot blog)
What can we learn? 1) Our substantive content should be paired with strong visual elements; and 2) Visual storytelling is a tactic we can use to increase engagement.
Yes, that’s what I said! If you’re currently “over this buzz word”, please hang in there and keeping reading. At the end of the day no matter what you call it, we all want the same thing. We want our members/users/people to connect to our content/messaging and take action. Powerful visuals will evoke emotions, make an impact and result in actions such as a share, like, retweet or comment. When our members/users/people are interacting with our content, the value of our community rises.
If we look back in time, people have always used visuals to communicate and share information. This is very understandable because visuals help us tell our stories quickly. When the visual is a powerful one, be it an image or video, the effect is magnified. Renowned poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou said it best when she said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Bring life to an image by capturing comical moments in a quick animation. Essentially, GIFs combine photo and video into a bit-sized, shareable story.
There are two things people love: statistics and graphics. Why not combine both of them for an incredibly effective storytelling medium? (3x more than any other visual). Plus, they’re versatile and can be designed for any topic.
Are images often shared because of their relevance, humorous design and cultural information. Memes can be jokes, phrases and concepts that are extremely shareable. Organizations could use them for awareness and social proof.
Photo collections and collages are super trendy right now. Collages offer an opportunity to highlight different attributes of organization or event and portray a strong visual representation of your story. In some cases, they tell a complete story. Check out Lonely Plant’s Instragram for inspiration.
(Example: Travel to Brazil for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics)
Any moment can turn into a photo opportunity. Authentic photographs attract the most attention. Photographs do not need to be professional, just real. Current mobile apps support this – take a look at charity: water’s Instragram. They do an excellent job of offering complete transparency and telling the story of the communities who are benefiting from cleaner water through photographs.
The most powerful visual communication channel with real engagement power. YouTube, Vine and Instagram offer video production for any user. From a visual storytelling point of view, no platform is as powerful as YouTube. If you want a good look at what effective storytelling looks like on YouTube, check out GoPro’s YouTube Channel.
I think everyone should embrace visual storytelling, not just graphic designers and marketers.
Why? It’s simple. People like visual stories and people belong to communities. If you’re looking for new ways to increase engagement (or activity for you buzz word haters), try incorporating visual storytelling into your content strategy and plan. Let’s give them what they like! Successful visual stories are authentic, inclusive, culturally relevant and reflect sensory experiences. Remember to be human. If you’re going to invest in visual storytelling and maximize its potential, you need to know what you’re doing. Finding the right visuals will take energy, creativity, and a solid time investment.
One more thing, speaking of visual stories I think you’ll like because it’s timely – did you know British best-selling novelist J.K. Rowling says she drew Harry Potter’s Hogwarts before she wrote it? (Source: The Power of Visual Storytelling, 2015)