Here’s to the power of great images – photographs, illustrations and video – and to creating brilliant, effective content every time.
Find a Story Begging to be Shared
Theres an undeniable advantage using images over words as images transcend language barriers, cultural and social factors and our knowledge of the world. But the visceral emotions that each picture sparks are likely to be universally felt. Emotions is what connects us and makes us human.
Starting with a great image gives richness to digital storytelling. It adds layers of meaning that we want to dissect, discuss and debate. When an image provokes mixed emotions, even contradictory ones, we somehow feel more drawn to it. That investment of emotion into experiencing stories is what gives them value – and things of value get shared. Stories are the currency of the digital world.
Use Meaningful Images
The images we pause for have a degree of meaning to us. They are the ones that explore the edges of our experience or reinforce the known. They also provoke happiness or sadness, surprise or fear, anger or disgust, or another of our many complex emotions. We ignore the emotionally neutral and we are often unwilling to explore that which is completely beyond our current understanding. What we seek is connection.
We know that content featuring images is more shareable, but if your imagery meets the emotional needs of your audience and helps them communicate their emotions, opinions or beliefs succinctly, it’s even more likely that your content will be shared.
Match Your Brand Values
Brand values are the link between a company and their audience. The best brands understand the importance of living their brand values – it takes more than saying “we believe in a particular brand value”. Your brand values should be present in your visual content, just as they would in written content. Brand values communicate who you are and what you stand for, allowing you to develop brand affinity and delight your audience without pushing your product.
Feature Real People, with Real Emotions
Social media plays a large part in today’s thirst for authenticity. Audiences feel empowered and are able to give immediate feedback on everything from customer service to marketing. They have found their voice in a public arena. They want to be listened to and represented in all their diversity. The advertising of last century frequently glossed over ugly truths in favour of aspirations and dreams. Today that aspiration is still represented, but it’s tempered by the audience’s strong desire to connect with others like themselves.
Use Visual Forms of Social Media to Differentiate your Brand
When using the internet, people are generally seeking two things: to be informed and/or to be entertained. They want to think or feel, to be touched by the rational or the emotional, or both. It’s now second nature for us to ignore banner ads. We subconsciously tune them out as we search for something more interesting and less intrusive to capture our attention. Your content can fill that void, but it doesn’t have to be restricted to one platform (like your blog, for example). This is where social media comes to the fore.
Having a presence on primarily visual channels like Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat allows you to connect with your audience at multiple touch points using imagery. Using these platforms as part of a campaign widens your reach and allows you to tailor content to different segments of your audience, who naturally consume content via different channels. The majority of your campaign content will be hosted on your website, but you can use these social channels to raise awareness of your message and drive traffic back to your website.
Use Colour Strategically
Emotion plays a huge role in the way we respond to content, including visual content. So consider: how do you think your chosen image will make someone feel? What action will it encourage them to take?
Colour is important when you want to someone to take action. This comes into play on CTA buttons, where you might usually spend time coming up with the perfect, action-oriented language, but don’t think to consider how the colour of the button might be affecting your conversion rate.
Represent your Audience in your Images
The backbone of any marketing strategy is knowing your audience and having clearly de ned buyer personas. You might have a whole strategy that revolves around these people, but are you overlooking them when it comes to your imagery?
It might seem obvious, but cultural nuances are massively important when choosing your imagery. For example, don’t choose a stock photo of a woman with blonde hair and blue eyes in your feature image for a blog post aimed at mothers in Indonesia – your audience won’t relate to it.
Visual content comes as an afterthought for most marketers, but when you combine the right ideas with the right execution, your images can unlock the final step towards making your content marketing efforts a huge success. Consider your images as a core element of your content. Ensure you’re thinking about the story they tell and how you can optimise them for maximum results, and you’ll be well on your way to creating your best content yet.