According to EMarketer, posts with photos were at the heart of an impressive 87 percent of the Facebook’s total network interactions in 2014. The gang at Buffer found that Tweets with images racked up 18 percent more clicks than photo-free posts, and those pic-filled Tweets got 89 percent more follower favorites, too. You can roll around in a big pile of supportive statistics here and here, but it’s pretty indisputable that content with imagery has staked out a very prominent spot in the content marketing landscape, and if content writers (and their clients) want to be able to compete then it’s time for us to embrace visual storytelling.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Or At Least a Couple Really Good Ones
You can describe the sad plight of orphaned animals or write a four-page ode to the beauty of the sea, but nothing conveys those corresponding emotions better than a photo. There’s a reason that there are poster people for diseases, too; if you give a campaign a face, it’s much harder for the public at large to ignore it. “Just Say No,” Sarah McLachlan’s gut-wrenching puppy commercials, all those ALS ice-dumping videos – these are all examples of visual content marketing, and while our day-to-day agenda might not be filled with such noble intentions as saving animals or glorifying Mother Nature’s creations, the root idea is the same. The better we paint a picture the more effective our campaign will be, because no matter how gifted a content writer is with the written word, sometimes a photo or video simply packs more punch. Make ’em laugh, make ’em cry, whichever is more in line with your product – just make ’em remember.
Pick a Poster Child
Since I went and proffered up that analogy already… The first and perhaps easiest way to incorporate visual storytelling is to use a photo as a symbol of your about-to-be-posted piece. Sharing your new blog on Twitter? You’ll get a lot more interaction of the link is accompanied by a photo that gives readers an idea of what they’ll get once they click through. Think about it this way: When you’re camped out in the, um, kitchen (we all know where we’re doing most of our social media perusal, just sayin’) giving your Facebook newsfeed a look-see, what grabs your attention quicker, a two line strip of text or an infographic, colorful photo, or a video?
Incorporate an Infographic
Remember back in the day when every presentation ever was accompanied by a tri-color pie chart that was almost as boring as the statistics it represented? Today we’ve booted that overhead projector on the squeaky cart in favor of slideshows and Go Pro and, in more static situations, the not-so-humble infographic. These pictures help the reader visualize your message – most typically the number- or science-filled kind – in a way that is easy to grasp, especially in relatively short periods of time. Want to demonstrate how many bottles of water you can save by installing low-flow showerheads? You can spell it out, or you can create an infographic (I have a special place in my bookmarks for the wonder that is Piktochart but there’s a whole list of free tools here) – which do you think your readers will read, remember, and share more?
This is only the beginning, but it’s a good beginning. Visual storytelling is here to stay, and it’s not something we writers should be afraid of. Instead, we should view it another tool in the arsenal, another arrow in the quiver, another way to give our clients the kick-butt content they need to get their brand the boost it deserves.
Writer Bio: Alana M is embracing a photo-filled future. When she isn’t hard at work writing all kinds of witty and engaging content, she enjoys long walks on the beach, lion taming, nuclear physics and lying about her hobbies.