We’ve all heard marketers proclaim that, “content is king,” but the rise in popularity of visual social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, SlideShare and Vine, have ushered in an era welcoming visual storytelling as a breakout marketing trend for 2014.
Similar to how people grow relationships with each other, visual storytelling offers companies meaningful opportunities to deliver positive experiences that build brand awareness, trust, loyalty and engaged communities. In order to develop and implement successful visual storytelling program, here are seven tips from our new book, The Power of Visual Storytelling, to help jumpstart your strategy:
1) Embrace Visual Imagery
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of visuals! The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, offering a powerful advantage to companies that can curate social media-friendly visuals that drive an immediate response. From images, to videos, infographics and presentations, the magic is truly in the mix with more visual mediums than ever before to bring your story to life.
Over the 2013 Christmas Holiday, Innocent Drinks produced a visual series of “Innocent guides” for Facebook and Twitter to help you navigate common holiday scenarios, such as receiving crappy presents or handling awkward back to work chats. Timely and hilarious, the visuals tied back to the company’s overall mission of making it easy for its customers to be good to themselves.
2) Personalize, Don’t Spray
Gone are the days where it’s okay to spray the same piece of content across multiple platforms. Instead, today’s social media leaders are embracing the special features, capabilities, and audience demographics of each platform to foster different types of engagement and storytelling.
General Electric leads by example in this category, with highly personalized strategies for all of its channels across the themes of science, technology and innovation. To inspire its community around science, the company turned to Vine to develop six-second science lessons that were easy and accessible to try at home. The content on Vine was so successful that General Electric decided to take the campaign to the next level by hosting a virtual science fair on Tumblr, featuring a mix of brand, influencer and user-generated content.
3) Make Yourself Useful
Want to make your visual content more engaging to your consumers? Focus on being useful.
Shape your visual storytelling strategy by listening to your consumers, from their frequently asked questions, to popular conversation topics, timely events, and issues they care about. Then, strategically leverage visuals to draw more attention and engagement around these popular content topics.
Earlier this year, the BBC News launched an Instagram video news service called Instafax. The program displays 15-second news clips via Instagram video as a way to deliver timely content to its busy community that doesn’t always have time to watch the news. Although positioned as a short-term experiment, the BBC is still producing daily Instafax video content on Instagram, proving the usefulness of this content to its community.
4) Be Human
Visual marketing performs better when the content has a human element. From tapping into user generated images, to showing behind the scenes content on how a product is made, consumers like to see the human side of your brand.
As seen with Crest, being human can also mean using visuals to shape your story around the issues, causes or interests that are important to your community. The company produced a series of eye-catching images for its Facebook page themed around relatable dental health topics for parents. While plaque may not seem like desirable social media content, it was incredibly valuable to a community of parents and succeeded in showcasing a more human side to Crest.
5) Tell A Story
As seen with the visuals thus far, your content’s storytelling element is just as important as the visuals you use. Start with a strong story concept that aligns to your overall social media strategy and goals and the end result will be that much more impactful.
A unique example of using visuals to tell an important company story came when the Calgary Zoo published its 2012 annual report on Instagram. Fifty-five photos and captions served as “pages” in the report, all of which came together to form a powerful story of the good work the zoo did over the course of the year.
6) Be Shareworthy In Everything You Do
Your consumers may “like” your content, but are they sharing it with their social community? When consumers share your content, you’re tapping into a powerful word of mouth endorsement from them (unless you made a major social media faux pas!). Analyze your most positive, shareworthy content to date and look for trends to further amplify what your audience is sharing the most.
With the majority of conversation about the Coca-Cola brand online coming from its customers, the company decided to invest in more shareworthy content by turning its traditional corporate website into an engaging visual magazine. The site relies heavily on page view data and consumer insights to determine its overall content strategy, with the end goal of encouraging both its fans and friends of fans audience to spread the news for them.
7) Live In The Moment
While there are no shortage of timely opportunities to capitalize on in social media, real-time marketing takes preparation. Understand that relevancy has a deadline, but the best real-time efforts come from knowing your company’s voice and values. Plan for what you can and what you situations your company would respond to, but don’t forget to embrace outlying time-sensitive opportunities as they arise.
An example of being timely without over planning is Dunkin’ Donuts’ #DunkinReplay campaign on Vine. During each Monday Night Football game, the company and agency partners Hill Holliday looked to re-create a marquee play from the first half of each game using Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and latte cups. The Vine was then shared on Twitter with relevant hashtags, allowing the company to enter the Monday Night Football conversation in a way that was fun, while adding value to the social TV conversation around the game.
Want more tips to jumpstart your visual storytelling strategy? Ekaterina Walter and I are joining the Social Pros podcast to chat with Jay about visual storytelling! Tune in this Friday, April 18.
For more information on The Power of Visual Storytelling book, click here.