By Mohammad Farooq.
It’s easier than ever to create and share content.
In fact, we all create and share content regularly for both personal or business reasons. This simply means that there is a vast amount of professional and amateur content out there for everyone’s consumption. It’s crowded.
The result is that it can be quite difficult to catch the attention of an audience when you need to. If you want to catch your audience’s attention with content, one of the best ways to do so is by making it visual.
Visual content has proven to be among the most efficient and effective ways to communicate a message. It is in fact, your best chance to go viral if you want to gain the attention of an audience at scale.
So if visual content is the best way for you to stand out, how do you best leverage its power? What types of visual content work?
Before I answer that question, let’s take a step back…
What do you stand to gain from creating great visual content?
The article ‘5 Ways Content Marketing Can Benefit You’ outlines what you stand to gain from using better content marketing.
The highlights are as follows:
- Generate more leads
- Shorten your sales cycles
- Become recognized as a leader in your industry
- Better search engines rankings
- Give you an advantage over your competitors
When using content marketing, visual content is mainly used to create visual cues that complement the information or message you are trying to present. The idea is to make the information;
- Easier to understand and digest
- Easier to share, and
- Easier to reference
With this in mind, there are several different types of visual media content that you can use in different circumstances to effectively convey your message.
It is important to also mention that depending on your objective and the scenario in which you are delivering the content, different types of visual content will be more suitable for your specific case in point.
Below are the main types of visual content, which if used appropriately can easily help you go viral.
The different types of visual content that can go viral
The epitome of visual content is the infographic, and it should therefore be a great place to begin our list.
The infographic crystalizes a lot of information into one easily viewable visual that is less intimidating and easier to understand for any viewer or reader.
In fact, in the social media realm, infographics are liked and shared 3 times more than other any other type of content. Additionally, 60% of content marketers are predicted to use infographics in 2016 as compared to last year.
Probably one of the main reasons for this is that using infographics in content marketing is known to increase profits by as much as 12%.
These are all valid reasons for why infographics are essential, but here are an additional 10 Reasons for Why Infographics are important.
Infographics are best used when you have a lot of statistical data that you want your audience to visualize, or if you want to breakdown lot of ‘hard-to-understand’ content into a more understandable and easily viewable format.
2. Eye-catching Images and photos
Photos and images are important for several reasons. For brands, they allow audiences to put a face on a brand and therefore make your brand more relatable. Additionally, using photos to show ‘behind the scenes’ of a brand can help audiences better understand and become more curious about a brand.
Photos can also be very helpful in showing off your products and services. In this case, the use of photos is especially useful if you want to show your products in action. This is probably one of the biggest contributing factors as to why 90% of the general public say that images influence their buy-in and purchasing decisions.
When using photos and imagery, be sure to reflect your brands unique selling point. Additionally, be sure to capture the brands values through color imagery, composition and so on. If you use relevant images, it has been found that you will be able to drive 94% more views than if you don’t have any images in your content. Plus, 65% of the information in images is more likely to be retained after 3 days.
Mixing up your visual content is quite important. In as much as images and photos are quite often the main drivers for visual content, video should also be used whenever possible to give a voice and sound to your content.
This YouTube video has some useful information on “How Video Content Marketing Can Grow Your Business”:
Here are some important statistics to keep in mind when considering the use of video:
- 64% of shoppers are more motivated to purchase a product after watching a video about it
- If you use the word ‘Video’ in an email, the likelihood that the email will be opened will increase by 19%. Additionally, the click through rate of the email increases by 65% and the rate of unsubscribing to your email list will reduce by 26%
- In a survey of ‘Video Marketing Statistics & Trends’ it was predicted that 74% of all internet traffic will be video by 2017
There are several reasons why video should take a leading role in your content marketing plan.
Some of the reasons include:
- Improved SEO
- Customer retention
- Higher engagement
- Stronger emotional connections
Learning about Video SEO is also essential in tackling Video Content more effectively.
4. Call-to-actions (CTAs)
A call-to-action is a way to influence your audience to do something or take some action after attracting them to your content. You can ask your audience to ’click here’, ‘buy now’, ‘follow us’, ‘share’, ‘add to cart’, ‘subscribe here for a free gift’ etc.
You can use imagery, color and hierarchy to grab your audience’s attention and cause them to take action. CTAs are best used to call attention to exclusive content, events, offers and sales. There is a lot of untapped potential in the use of CTAs since it is known that 70% of businesses fail to use them.
On the other hand, those that use CTAs can benefit quite significantly from their use.
5. Inspiring quote cards
A visual representation of a quote can be quite an inspiring way to create emotion and therefore motivate an audience to take action, or feel a certain way about a brand or product.
By using a brands palette, typography and other visual cues to tailor the quote to your message, you can create quite an impact with a quote.
Above is a great quote that is an advert by Target on Pinterest.
Another important aspect about quotes is that they are quite easily shareable through several different platforms, and especially through social media.
An advantage of using inspiring quote cards is that they are quite easy to create and yet can quite easily go viral if done in the right way.
6. Data visualizations and graphical data
Data visualizations include charts, maps, diagrams, graphs and so on. If you take the time and effort to make sure that your graphs are not only easy to understand, but that they also pass relevant and tangible information, then they can quite easily go viral.
Data visualizations are best used to represent facts, figures and extrapolations, when audiences may need to see trends or patterns about certain data. When using data visualizations, it is best to use data that reflects your brands imagery.
An important statistic to have in mind about data visualizations is that 40% of people understand and therefore respond better to visual data as opposed to plain text.
Screenshots highlight something that you want to draw attention to that might otherwise not be noticed. They could also clarify something to your audience so that it is easier for your audience to follow along. If you want to increase understanding, annotating screenshots can add yet another layer of clarity.
The use of screenshots can be used for everything from instructional content to showing live captures of information that you want to share. Such as reviews and testimonials of products or services by customers.
If you for example use screenshots to show off your positive reviews and results from other customers, you will quite easily attract more attention and build confidence in your brand, product or service.
In research done by Dimensional Research investigating the impact of customer service on customer lifetime value, 90% of respondents were influenced by positive reviews when making a buying decision.
8. Tutorials and question-answer visuals
Tutorials can include anything from ‘life hacks’, to recipes, to visual step-by-step instructions. They can also be in the form of videos, images, text or a combination of these.
In a book written by Levie, W. J. & Lentz, R. titled ‘Effects of text illustrations: A review of research, Educational Communication and Technology’, they state that, people following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations.
Question and answer type visuals on a similar note are known to help bridge the gap between businesses needs and consumer wants. Asking your audience questions that stand out from text in a very visual way, is not only attention grabbing, but also sparks a conversation and encourages engagement.
9. Quizzes and visual puzzles
Like questions, another great way to encourage your audience’s engagement is through quizzes and visual puzzles. Through quizzes and visual puzzles, you can easily construct a smart and prudent tone for your brand.
Quizzes and puzzles also help to spark creativity for more consumption or better consumption of your products. They can be used to bring more clarity to abstract knowledge about a product by making the information more practical and useable. This will in turn encourage adoption and use of a product that is otherwise difficult to relate to.
10. Memes and comics
A great way to end this list of visual media content that can easily go viral is by talking about memes and comics. Everyone loves a laugh, and in the internet world, there are few things that have more cause for laughs than the memes we love.
As far back as in 1999, due to the use of memes like the dancing baby, site visits jumped from as little as 4 visits a day to 15,000 per day. This is a very respectable figure even by today’s standards.
The importance and power of visual content
As mentioned earlier, using the appropriate type of visual content is the key to sending it viral. That being said, some of the strong points for why visual content is both important and powerful in almost every use-case are as follows:
- Visual content is essential for customer retention
- Visual content is vital for creating an immediate impact especially when you have limited time
- Visual content can foster better understanding and reduce confusion for readers who took the time to read your post
- Visual content is simply more stimulating than any other form of communication. The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text
- Visual content grabs attention and creates better engagement since it is able to tell a complete story at once. It also easily evokes more emotion.
- Visual content can help to establish a strong selection criteria and a structure for decision making that favors your brand or product over a competitor
Guest Author: Mohammad Farooq works as an Analyst. When not working, he goes backpacking around India. He regularly blogs about Travel, Movies, Political Issues and a lot of other things on his blog “ReveringThoughts”.