Words just aren’t enough to create a compelling social media presence anymore. Visual media is the top draw on the Web and it consistently improves the stickiness factor (or how long people actually spend in the same spot) for blog posts, Facebook pages, and tweets. Consider the recent popularity of Pinterest and Instagram, take a look at the Facebook Timeline design and the way that photos are displayed in your feed, or LinkedIn’s recent emphasis on the visual story of company pages and personal profiles. Think about it, two years ago, few people had ever even seen an infographic.
Now images are front and center in most forms of online communication because people respond to visual content and it’s (finally!) easy to share. Don’t think that your written content isn’t critical though—it is. But if you want your text to be as effective as possible, you need to provide complementary images and videos and then do it again, and again.
Where do I start?
A visual content strategy spans your entire web presence. Your website, blog, enewsletter, and social media properties are all part of your brand—so start with your existing web presence strategy and build out from there. You’ll always need to know what to communicate and where to do it before focusing on how to get your message across on any or all of your web properties. Consider the visuals you use across the Web, and then think about each network and its content as part of a whole as you work to come up with a consistent visual content strategy.
The same best practices that apply to your web presence strategy apply to your visual content strategy—you’ll still need to do your homework and you may need to get outside help. Know who your audience is and what attracts them, know your market and what your competitors are doing, be clear on your skills and capabilities (remember to selectively contract work out if you need to), and stay focused on your business goals.
Keeping the big picture in mind as you select visual elements to accompany written content also pays off. We recommend choosing images and videos that complement your website, blog, or newsletter text rather than images that will distract from your message. Remember that story matters in each and every communication—when your story is disjointed people don’t have a clear vision of what you’re about. When your message is disjointed people will not follow the bouncing ball and whatever you’re trying to communicate will most likely miss the mark.
Visual content will often fall into at least one of the following categories:
- Thought provoking
Each category has its uses and experts. No matter who brings the visuals together—you or a professional—an effective job requires selectively mixing and matching all your content in a way that appeals to your audience, helps you stand out in your market, and moves you towards your goals.
What about Social Media?
If you don’t have a website, then it may be easier for you to think in terms of integrating visual content you’re your existing social media strategy. Remember, although most people find it perfectly acceptable to post promotional visuals of your products or services when you have something useful to share, self promotion should not drive selection of the majority of your visual social media content. You want to reinforce your brand without been a bore.
Thanks to social media, you can also expand your visual repertoire far beyond images and videos that you create—simply because it’s both accepted and easy to share visual content that other people have posted. Whatever you post says a lot about you, so make a habit of sharing images that give your audience a chance to make an emotional connection with your business, services, or products. Link to videos that will make them holler, laugh, pause, think, or experience any combination of the above. It’s just as important to remember to add a personal comment whenever you can reasonably do so, and be sure to fully credit the source each and every time you share someone else’s image or video.
As you develop your visual content strategy, remember that there are plenty of great visual content ideas out there and even more good reasons to focus on visual content in your marketing strategy. Just be sure to choose methods that will work for you and attract your audience on the Web. Then have some fun with it!