Visual content is a powerful tool: Visuals attract attention, engage, get shared, and keep your brand memorable.
But more importantly, visual content is a versatile one. You can incorporate it into every strategy, from lead generation to conversions, from boosting traffic to brand visibility.
Visuals attract attention, engage, get shared, and keep your brand memorable. But more importantly, visual content is a versatile one. You can incorporate it into every strategy, from lead generation to conversions, from boosting traffic to brand visibility.
Your visual strategy should inform on any marketing effort you make, and strengthen your overall digital assets to solidly increase success.
But what does it mean for you? There is almost no possible way you haven't at been using visual content already.
But are you getting the most out of it?
Here are some ways you can improve your visual strategy, and start really reaping the benefits.
Know What Your Audience Wants
Your audience is looking for something pretty specific, even if they don't know it. They want high quality, entertaining, informative, and a host of other adjectives that are going to vary somewhat depending on your niche.
One of the most crucial steps to improving engagement is to have a genuine understanding of what it is your audience is most attracted to. Because it isn't all about being seen; you could have a piece of content viewed 1,000 times on Twitter, but if it isn't shared or commented on, is it really being effective?
This is the delicate distinction between visibility and engagement that not everyone understands. If those 1,000 Twitter followers don't share your visuals, then next time the same 1,000 people will see the next piece of content instead of, say, 1,100 that have increased from that former share.
Engagement should always be the goal. So know what will push them to engage.
>>> Actionable items:
- Use Pinterest and Twitter analytics at least weekly to understand what works best for your audience. Try to understand why a specific visual got more attention than the others and incorporate your findings into your blog editorial calendar!
- Create timely visuals. Schedule fun memes to congratulate your audience on big holidays. But not only that. Use these calendars of weird holidays, notable anniversaries and birthdays to post related visuals and visual quotes. Both work extremely well for engagement!
[Look at this example of Coca-Cola celebrating National Polar Bear Day. How can one not share it?]
Look At What Is Working For Others
The most obvious place to look for audience interests is in what is working from others. Given how likely it is that your content viewers are looking at others within your niche, the information is right there for the taking.
You don't know need to know the view numbers, you need to see the rate of engagement and begin developing a pattern to follow.
Social platforms are going to be the biggest source for this data, as people are more likely to comment and share there than on blogs. But that doesn't discount the numbers shown on the websites themselves. Really, any share numbers or comments there will be a big indication of what is working.
>>> Actionable items:
- If you don't know your competitors yet or you want to expand your list, use this simple tool
- Use to (1) Find your competitors' most popular blog posts and (2) Analyze your competitors' Facebook marketing tactics: Loads of info to learn from!
[Top content of my competitor identified by BuzzSumo]
Try Asking For Feedback IN The Content With Apester
This is a personal favorite of mine, and one of the best marketing apps available. Apester is a digital storytelling application that creates feedback surveys directly in visual content. You have probably seen them on websites and even embedded in videos.
Each survey presents a single, simple question and a few multiple choice answers. Not only is it a great way to get viewer information, it is an automatic engagement tool that is effortless on the side of the one being asked.
You can also send people from one to another in a unique journey that will expose them to more content while they respond along the way. Very cool, and very effective.
>>> Actionable item:
To see who is using Apester, and how you might emulate the more engaging of those customers, check out this list. Not everyone has quite figured out how to utilize the tool to their advantage yet, but those who do are seeing real number increases in their overall data. It is hard not to be impressed.
Of course, improving visual content engagement might start with just having better visual content, period. If you have found your own lagging it might be time to start considering that the quality is the problem which is where both Pablo and Canva can step in.
Both are really easy to use content production tools that work across multiple formats (infographics, edited images, banners, charts, etc). They take a lot of the necessary knowledge and skill out of the process, and instead let you follow step by step tools and drag and drop features to make something professional grade. Great news for all of us who never went to school for graphic design.
Best of all, both are affordable.
>>> Actionable items:
- Both Pablo and Canva are essentially free tools. What you pay for are the photos that you use to create your visuals. You can use your favorite source of photos and upload your own pictures, though, saving money. Here's my favorite source of high-quality photography but there are many more sites.
- Create templates! Canva lets you create and re-use templates: You can change text, the concept, and the background image (see above) but use the pre-made template to save time. This ensures your blog visual content is branded in the same way which makes your site more memorable.
Visualize Your Data and Old Content
Your old content provides loads of visual marketing inspiration. Look at your blog archive and identify content that you can turn into a cheat sheet, an infographic or into a visual white paper.
The idea is, if one particular article is doing well, chances are, its visual version will result in another boost. Plus it will give you the opportunity to re-enforce the success of the original by linking to it from the new content.
Here's an awesome example of such visualization in action: FirstSiteGuide has turned their web guide into a PDF, created a “visual roadmap” of the tutorial and built a visual “guide structure” showing the contents of the guide. This way, the visualizations have provided new opportunities for marketing and lead generation!
>>> Actionable items:
To turn your old content into a visual asset, use these visualization tools and resources:
- Flaticon is one of the best sources of icons to use in your visualizations
- Here are some awesome free tools and templates to create viral infographics including Create.ly, Piktochart.com and Venngage.com
- Use MarketingCharts, SiteGeek, and Emarketer for all sorts of marketing and web-related visualizations that are being updated monthly
Know Each Platform Specifics
People tend to pick a platform based on overall popularity, but how well do you know it? Each platform has its specifics when it comes to visual content.
- Maybe you are using Twitter, but the content could benefit from further context and elaboration.
- Tip: Don't flood your feed with visuals on Twitter because images, while improving engagement, may also irritate and result in some unfollows. Use images only a couple of times a day when you want to diversify your Twitter feed.
- Or perhaps you want direct CTAs and so Instagram with its ban on description linking isn't really the place for you.
- Tip: Consider Instagram ads that allow clickable CTAs.
- You could be lagging in viewers because of Facebook's bizarre criteria on what qualifies as promotional, and so half your content isn't being reached by your audience (boost pandering from an increasingly finicky platform).
- Tip: Use this tool to see if your image qualifies for Facebook promoted ads.
Consider adapting your visual strategy to each platform keeping in mind its specific guidelines (especially if you are planning to re-enforce your strategy by investing in advertising campaigns).
>>> Actionable item:
Use a social media dashboard to keep an eye on your blog stats and your social media channels to spot a good trend the moment it comes. This will make it easier for you to analyze your multiple marketing channels and compare them.
I use Cyfe which is very cheap and lets me see the stats from my own blog, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., all on one page. If one of my visuals does particularly well, Cyfe lets me see it the day it happens:
There is also that it is ignoring many other networks that might be beneficial. How is your strategy on Pinterest? Have you ever considered Reddit? What about Quora?
Social platforms vary a great deal, and it is important that you take that into account.
Do you have any tips for visual content engagement? Let us know in the comments!