This article was contributed by Kerry Creaswood .
You probably know that using visual content is beneficial to your blog, website, and social media accounts. You know that visual content grabs attention, keeps people on your page for a longer of period of time, and that it creates more shares and conversation than other types of content.
The question is, do you know how to use visual content in smart ways that truly give you the best results? Here are 10 ideas you can use as part of your visual content strategy.
1. Post Visual Content on Multiple Platforms
Whether you or create your own content, or simply curate great content that you find, don’t limit yourself to your own blog or website. Instead, share visual content on all of the social media platforms where you have established a presence. Even better, if you have had difficulty establishing a strong presence on a particular social media site, visual content may help your efforts.
One thing to remember is that different platforms have different audiences and you should tailor your content accordingly. For example edgier content often works better on Tumblr and more conservative content works better on Facebook. If you are considering trying your content out on a platform that is unfamiliar to you, it is probably a good idea to spend some time viewing the content that is popular on that platform, and the way that users of that platform interact with one another. This will give you a good feel for the type of content that will work well in that particular space. An easy way to post to multiple accounts at once is with Buffer.
2. Have a Plan in Place. Don’t Randomly Insert Images Into Your Content
Your use of visual content should not be something you do in addition to your existing content marketing strategy. Visuals should be something that should be a part of that strategy. If your existing content strategy does not include the use of visual content, that strategy should be modified. This way, your visual content works with your branding efforts. You’ll also be able to measure the effectiveness of your visual content along with your other content. This may literally mean pulling documents and making physical changes. It may also mean hitting up your IT people to make any changes to your analytics if needed. However, doing this work in the first place can really save you time and energy down the road.
3. Use Hashtags and Names to Caption Your Content
Photographs and images that are captioned using hashtags and user names has been shown to generate more shares. This, of course, widens your audience and boosts your search engine rankings. It does take a bit of effort to get the use of hashtags just right. You don’t want to use too many hashtags in a single caption, and you don’t want hashtags to be too long. You also don’t want to include unrelated hashtags.
For example, if you are a wedding photographer and posted a picture of a beach wedding on Instagram this would be an example of abusing hashtags: #BeachWedding, #happy couple, #hadagreattime, #beautifulpictureinharshlight blessings to the bride and groom. #50percentoffphotoalbums.
Here is a much better example of using hashtags with the same photograph: Gorgeous beach wedding photo taken of an amazing couple. Proud of the way these turned out in such bright sun. All the best to the bride and groom. #brightlights #beautifulpics. You could also add a second comment with more hashtags.
4. Make Videos to Demonstrate Your Products
Creating a video to show your audience how well one of your products works is much more valuable to them than a text based description. This is true even if there are images in that description. For one thing, most people are visual learners, and will better understand what you have to offer if they can watch a video. Customers who watch videos are also more likely to trust you and the products that you sell. You can begin by recording yourself using a simple digital camera and tripod. If you’re nervous about appearing on screen, you can use this tutorial and create a video from a PowerPoint presentation.
5. Make Sure That Visual Content Improves Branding Rather Than Detracting From It
While you do want to share content that is popular among your followers, popularity shouldn’t be the primary decision making factor when you are creating or selecting content. Your first priority should be determining that the content complements your branding efforts. Then, decide if your audience will find it informative, entertaining, or useful. Doing this begins with asking yourself a few simple questions:
- Is this something my customers or potential customers wants to see from me?
- Do the values and the sentiments expressed in this content match the things that this business has come to represent?
- Will sharing this content improve customer relations?
In a visual sense, does this content go with our branding efforts? This may not impact whether or not you use the content altogether, but it could impact if you embed the content or simply link to it.
6. Use Crowd Sourcing to Curate Visual Content and Get Visitors Talking And Sharing
Crowd sourcing works because people love to share and discuss. Think about the website, Reddit. It is an entire website dedicated to content, visual and otherwise, that is shared by members of the community. The website is so popular that it now draws major celebrities to its popular AMA (ask me anything Q & A sessions). Top trending discussion threads are even picked up as stories by online news outlets. Of course, you don’t need to make that big of an impact to enjoy the benefits of crowd sourcing. You can generate a lot of social media and website traffic simply by asking your followers to share pictures and stories about using your products.
7. Use Controversy and Humor in Visual Content to Create Engagement
If you make a controversial statement, or encourage your readers to share their opinions on a controversial image or video, you are sure to generate discussion. If you share visual content that makes people laugh, they will frequently share that content with others. You will need to be sure that you have a clear idea of who your audience is before attempting this. It is very effective, but you want to get people talking. You don’t want to offend them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with testing the waters with a slightly cheeky picture, or using a photograph as the center point of a rather opinionated blog.
8. Remember That Pictures Are Great But Moving Images Are Better
Videos and GIFs work so well at grabbing attention and generating shares. They may not be the best choice for every situation, but when you are creating visual content moving images are often the best choice. WordPress and other content management platforms make it quite easy to embed videos and gifs in posts. Here is information about the GIPHY plugin for WordPress.
9. Tell Stories
While using images and videos as part of text based content is great, as is using visual content on its own, you can really boost the viral potential of your content by telling stories. For proof of this, check out Snapchat stories. Individuals, businesses, even celebrities are using Snapchat stories to create content that keeps viewers coming back to view their content. To do this, you use the SnapChat story feature to select a collection of your SnapChat pictures and videos to combine into a singe story.
10. Know Your Audience and Share Pictures, Videos and Infographics That Are Relevant
When you are considering a new visual content marketing strategy, it is a good idea to take a fresh look at your customer or visitor personas. If you have only previously considered the text based content they would find relevant, you may want to make a few adjustments. There are many ways to do this that include market research, directly asking your visitors via survey, or simply paying attention to what they are sharing to your pages.
Kerry Creaswood is a young and ambitious writer from Savannah, GA. She is interested in self-development, design and marketing. To find more about Kerry – check her Twitter or read her last article Content Writing Hacks for Effective Marketing.