December 5, 2018 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Visual content has become a necessary tactic for content marketing due to its strength over nonvisual, word-only material. The right videos, images, infographics, etc. can make a huge splash with a business’s audience and propel their brand to higher notoriety. However, with so many options to consider, it can be hard to focus on what might work for your own business.
Here we’ll be taking a look at some of the most creative, successful ways that businesses have used visual content to captivate their audience on social media and earn viral success. We’ll also cover what specifically to take as a lesson from these cases.
Image via Flickr by Carbon Visuals
Aside from its socializing potential, the internet is a place to learn new information. These two appeals combine brilliantly with data visualizations on social media. Brands like Cook Smarts use data visualizations and similar content to explain complicated culinary ideas, such as how to perfectly soft boil an egg. If your customers are in a niche where they tend to ask a lot of questions and need to learn new things, you owe it to your business to employ data visualizations and instructional or educational content pieces. Whole Foods performs a similar campaign, using clever visuals to help visitors learn how to eat healthier.
One impressive form of visual content that many brands should capitalize on is infographics, which combines data visualizations with consistent graphic design to tell interesting stories or express complex ideas in an easy-to-grasp way. An infographic can provide such high value that happy viewers end up sharing it online much more than they would with more simple types of instructional content.
If you look at Taco Bell’s Instagram page, you’ll see some posts that look a bit like modern art pieces, taking their food items and presenting them in unusual colors, art styles, and configurations. Based on common Taco Bell TV commercials and their typical branding, you might not expect this artistic, experimental vibe to be effective, but trying something entirely new drew in a new swath of potential customers who weren’t expecting it.
With all the similar marketing advice out there, it’s easy to get caught up on trying to sell through your visual content, showing your products in the simplest, most flattering ways and explaining why people should buy them. If you take things in a different direction sometimes, however, and try to create an interesting related piece of visual media, you never know who might find it intriguing.
If making content seems particularly challenging for your niche, one option is to find ways to get your audience to create and submit content for you. One example is Tourism Australia. The company invited travelers and locals to submit their own best pictures of the country to have a constant source of appealing images. This led to fans submitting around 900 photos every day, leaving them flooded with excellent content to choose for their Facebook page. Imagine how less viable that system would be if Tourism Australia hired photographers to make original photos every day.
Tapping into something your customer base is already likely to do, as a way of getting content, will help take a lot of the effort out of your content marketing schedule. The possibilities that come from letting your customers tell their own stories will help build interest in your business because customers tend to listen to each other’s testimonials and experiences over traditional marketing.
Sometimes visual content can be useful for not just showing off a product’s benefits or features, but creating a broader concept of how it might be used. For example, Aeropostale, a fashion company, often takes images of several items all together. Some of the items will be parts of their catalog that go together in an attractive outfit, but other unavailable, non-clothing accessories will be included as well, such as a sundress and flip-flops with a camera and other accessories to stir the customer’s imagination.
Other times, pictures are used with multiple models wearing different items that go well together, which helps customers see great products that could work for them and things they could buy for a friend. If you need to show images of your products anyway, think beyond the most basic picture possible and see how to combine elements and other tangential items to help a customer better visualize owning your products. All the convincing features in the world will amount to little if a person has trouble imagining themselves using your product.
If you’ve spent a lot of time on any of the major social media sites, you have probably noticed the power behind taking an attractive visual and combining it with an inspirational quote or idea. Sometimes the pairing is entirely innocuous, and yet the sheer power of that combination generates more engagement. Jetsetter has often used these sorts of posts to get traffic on Instagram, and they employ professional consistency with their white text and highly similar fonts.
Inspiration doesn’t have to be the straightforward self-help kind, either. You can take quotes and phrases in all sorts of tonal directions, from funny to somber. An easy way to start is to find usable images your audience might like and then think of some text to apply, quoted or not. Even if it seems slightly random at first, give it a try, because it works.
Visuals are all about excitement and seeing something new, and creating the same type of visual content as your competitors will reduce your impact. Additionally, it’s best to operate on several social media sites at once to grow your brand, but each site has different rules on what kind of visual content works best.
This is why a one-size-fits-all approach is going to limit your results, and why going a bit outside the box is a good plan. As long as you base your ideas on something that has worked before for other businesses and keep testing new things, you’ll develop a social media brand strategy that earns you more engagement, traffic, shares, and sales.
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