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Online marketers everywhere know that visuals such as images and infographics are an essential ingredient to a successful content mix, particularly one that drives conversion rates. To prove it, just take a look at these 2016 statistics on visual content marketing:
To help you create visual content that attracts as many eyeballs as possible, we’ve compiled a list of guidelines to follow on your path to both convincing and converting viewers.
Content created by users is one of the most effective ways to get other viewers to jump on the brand-promotion bandwagon. Not only does it ensure a steady stream of authentic visual content, it also showcases the value you provide to your customers and followers.
Take, for example, one of Huggies’ Facebook campaigns above. By asking their followers to snap selfies of themselves with their babies and then post them in the comments section, they’re tapping into a very emotional and important part of their lives, while also building trust and increasing audience engagement with the brand.
Another example is this well-received contest launched by BarkBox, a monthly provider of pet-themed products. After carefully selecting a curious image of two dogs seemingly engaged in conversation, they asked their followers to come up with their best caption for the picture, using the #CaptionThis hashtag in the CTA.
The photo caption contest received hundreds of submissions and lots of exposure due to the viral nature of the hilarious captions authored by their Facebook followers. (You can read the winning entries here.)
Taking images with your smartphone and then posting them on your social media feeds in real time is another way to exponentially increase engagement and trust in your brand.
Since online marketing is all about building relationships with followers, the way a brand connects with others isn’t all that different from the way people relate with their friends on social media. It simply involves sharing memorable moments and letting followers be a part of everyday activities and challenges.
Consider, for example, how the outdoor gear company North Face shares this impromptu, in-the-moment photo, accompanied by a very personal comment made by a team snowboarder who uses North Face products.
Another key to creating visual content that convinces and converts is to develop and disseminate images that communicate your brand personality. Far from the boring and insipid brands of yesteryear, today’s social-media-saavy brands are increasingly sharing behind-the-scenes images that reveal unique corporate cultures. Look at how Zappos, the online shoe store, shares amateur footage of its Spring internship program, which serves to attract potential candidates looking for a creative and dynamic work culture.
In line with the need to be spontaneous and have personality, brands must also know how to leverage authentic content that reflects reality, not Hollywood standards. For example, take a look at some of the pictures posted with the #nomakeup hashtag on Instagram. Instead of hyper-produced photos of supermodels with impeccable skin, you’ll find images of all types of women taking natural-looking selfies with no makeup on.
One key to driving huge amounts of traffic and increasing social engagement is to create visual content–either user-generated or produced in house–that is relevant to your audience. While this may sound like a no-brainer, many brands fail to really get inside their potential customers’ heads and discover what makes them tick. National Geographic, for example, was able to appeal to globetrotting millennials everywhere through its Wanderlust Instagram contest. Contestants were instructed to capture unforgettable images of their travels around the world and then upload them to Instagram with the hashtag #wanderlust to have a chance to win a photo expedition to Yosemite National Park. In the fashion world, Marc by Marc Jacobs took a normally exclusive recruiting process and turned it into something inclusive and relevant. In this case, it scouted new faces for one of its campaigns by publishing a casting call on Twitter and Instagram. Participants from all over the world were instructed to upload unique images of themselves with the hashtag #castmemarc. The campaign was hugely successful as it received more than 70,000 entries from around the world and created tons of social media buzz.
Another key to getting your audience to know, like and trust you is to create content that is visually consistent. This means that brand fonts and colors are maintained throughout all your visual marketing efforts so that your followers and viewers can easily identify you, thereby reinforcing brand awareness. One good example is Pampers’ Twitter images. These are always consistent in terms of image style, colors and typography.
Visual content published at just the right time also has its rewards. Just take a look at how Oreo made history in 2013 by quickly tweeting this image during a Super Bowl blackout. The tweet went viral, and some even wondered whether the smart move was even more effective than its actual multi-million dollar Super Bowl commercial.
Another important step to effective visual content creation is to update it several times a day. There’s nothing worse than stale visual content, which can quickly be detected through time stamps. In this day and age when social media never sleeps, it’s vital to share fresh, new content on a consistent basis.
Although amateur photos and video taken with smartphones are becoming the norm, the standards of quality visual content still apply.
To ensure that even your impromptu and behind-the-scenes photos are aesthetically pleasing, you can use filters that are widely available through Instagram and other platforms.
Next, make sure that your visual content meets the size guidelines for each of the different publishing platforms. (In this post, we show you how to optimize your images for each social media channel.) Just look at how a change in size and dimension can influence the effectiveness of your message.
A fundamental rule for creating effective visual content is properly overlaying text so that your message comes across loud and clear.
In the image above, for example, the text is placed right over a cloud and in an inconspicuous place, making it hard to read and barely noticeable. In the image below, on the other hand, the text is properly overlayed, which makes a huge difference in its overall impact.
Screenshots are another vital ingredient in the educational portion of your visual content mix. Many times, however, visual content creators make the mistake of taking screenshots that are either distorted, unreadable or badly scaled.
To communicate effectively, make sure that the area you want to highlight is readable and that your image is properly scaled. (Never make the mistake of stretching your image in ways it was not meant to as this distorts the aspect ratio.)
Another way to set your visual content apart is to think outside of the box and avoid being so literal.
Instead of resorting to the typical stock photo and text overlay, why not go for something a bit different, as in the image above, which incorporates the central message into the actual photo.
Hand-drawn images such as the one above can also take the place of the typical graph or chart. Illustrations can also replace the overused stock photo. This not only makes your visual content seem more authentic and original, it also gives it a personal touch that will endear you to your audience.
Finally, you can also make the most of the space allotted to you on social media feeds by using photo collages like the one above. In just a single glance, followers can quickly get a visual overview of the product or subject in question.
Do you know of any other visual content creation tip or hack we’ve missed? We’d love to hear about it. Just drop us a line in the comments section below.
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