It used to be OK to have a static website gallery, post text to your social channels, and use corporate photos and videos online. Now, readers depend on visuals to figure out whether your content is worth their time.
Expectations of consumers have changed too. They no longer have time to click through to an image or link to see what your content is about. They make split-second decisions based on the visual content provided.
So whether your content is being consumed within social channels or on your website, visual content remains a powerful tool – but only if done correctly.
In short, the rules of visual content have changed.
Why should you use visual content?
Just take a quick look at these 3 snack size facts about the visually wired human. In a visual content format 🙂
Source: Visual Website Optimizer blog
Below are 10 new rules of visual content marketing. Break them and you risk losing your customers.
1. The law of the recent
When we go online, most of the content we consume is from today, or at best yesterday.
Content from last week is practically unreachable unless you’re looking for something specific. And content from last year has become history so ancient, it might as well be obsolete.
Skeptical? Test it.
Go to your favourite social network. Open it up and take a look at your home feed. Can you find a post from last week in the first 25 updates?
Notice something else? The only way you can tell how recent a post is, is by the time stamp on them. Posts from today will either have the time they were published visible or tell you how long ago the post was made. E.g. an hour ago, five hours ago, yesterday.
In order for your content to be relevant, it has to be recent. The best way to do that is by time stamping your content or featuring topical events.
Honda has created a social hub on their website where they curate and display recent customer content.
2. The law of authenticity
People are more likely to trust a referral from a friend or relative than a company.
In fact, research has shown Millennials are even more likely to trust a complete stranger than a company. It’s why user-generated content is considered far more compelling than any content a brand produces.
Photos and videos from your customers tell the real story of your brand and are far more effective.
NZone is an extreme sport (skydiving) company. Customers who share personal pictures of their experience increase authenticity and can instil trust for anyone considering making a purchase.
3. The law of credibility
The law of credibility states that your customers must be willing to stand by your brand by publicly aligning themselves with it.
In layman terms, if your customers are posting images and sharing their experiences, they should be linking back to you or tagging you in their social media updates.
Think about it. What would you trust more? An image or video shared by a company showing how happy and satisfied their clients are? Or the same thing shared by one of their customers?
Dole is an international brand which markets and distributes fruit including pineapples, bananas and paw paws. They often get their customers to share content from events or at home consuming the product.
4. The law of relevance
Visual content needs to be presented in context. It has to be relevant, informative and well organized.
So if you’re selling a product online, you need to provide corresponding visual content for it. Make sure you place relevant content in the right place.
For example if you are selling particular line of clothing not only do you need to place photos of that on the right web pages, you also need to place the correct user-generated photos on the right webpage, which in this case may involve your customers with those clothes in a real life situation.
Superette is an on-line retailer. They take care of this law by linking customer photos to their products.
5. The law of the caption
A picture may be worth a thousand words but a caption or headline can often bring it further to life.
There’s no denying that we process visual content faster than text-based content. But a simple caption is often required to tell a visual story more effectively.
A caption also helps you communicate your brand’s identity. For example if your brand focuses on making things easy and fun for your customers, then the caption can be humorous.
The Press, a daily newspaper, ran a photo competition and asked their readers to submit their best backyard cricket photos for a World Cup promotion. One user submitted the image below with a caption that made a photo infinitely more interesting.
Source: The Press reader
6. The law of social
Your customers expect to be able to interact with your visual content – whether it’s on your social channels or on your website.
Make it easy for them by providing them opportunities to comment on your content, share them easily on their preferred social networks, and even email the content to their friends if they want to.
The law of social doesn’t end here though. Your customers also expect you to acknowledge their efforts. If they’ve left a comment, reply to it. If they’ve shared on social media, thank them for it. Find a way to make it worth their while and they’ll continue giving your visual content the same attention.
Interislander – a ferry service ran a photo contest that asked their customers to share their favourite Interislander memory on their website or Instagram and tag them.
Needless to say, the competition was a huge hit!
7. The law of personality
For too long brands have been bland and boring. Think stock photos.
Thankfully, the recent developments in visual content make it easy to bring a brand to life.
The right visuals, including photos, videos, infographics, and e-books can add depth to your brand story and reinforce your culture.
One of the easiest ways to do so is to give your customers a “behind the scenes” look. Show them what goes into making or marketing your brand, post pictures from office events, maybe even how you brainstorm.
The more your customers know about the culture of your company, the more your brand’s personality will shine through.
The Queensland Opera does this brilliantly. From pictures of their costume designs, rehearsals, and makeup – they keep their fans and followers engaged.
8. The law of consistency
Apart from engaging customers, the role of visual content is to reinforce your brand. For that to happen, your content needs to have consistency.
This isn’t strictly a new law, but it’s worth reinforcing. We’re not referring to publishing visual content consistently. It’s more about elements in your visuals that tell your target market that the visual is from your company – even if you’re not linked or tagged in it.
You can do this by using the same:
- Fonts and colours as your website
- Images in your company’s social media accounts and profile page headers
- Design element like a background, banner, or logo.
Customers should be able to recognize the content is from your brand at a glance.
All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team, have their photos naturally branded. Whether their visuals are from their own team or from fans, they all include the All Blacks in one form or another.
9. The law of resilience
Content never sleeps and neither does your online presence.
Visual content is not a campaign that ends in a few days or weeks. It’s not a one-off thing. It’s an on-going strategy.
Make creating, publishing, and maintaining visual content a key part of your marketing strategy.
Jucy, one of tourism’s top content marketers, has created an on-going visual content, much of which is from their customers.
10. The law of quality
With cell phone cameras getting better and better by the day, customers have learned to take great photos and videos themselves.
And with the numerous filters available through Instagram and others, it’s possible to source high quality content from your customers
The good news is, you can use that content and combine it with your own in-house efforts to help with your marketing activities.
Dilmah, a renowned tea company, encourages its tea drinkers to share their best photos with them for a chance to win awesome prizes like a 10-day trip to New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
A photo submitted by one of Dilmah fans.
Visual content – a vital part of your content marketing strategy.
There’s no denying it. Visual content is a vital part of any marketing strategy.
The days of the old website photo gallery are far behind us. When done right, visual content can drive traffic to your site, increase page views, lower bounce rate, and convert website traffic into sales.
Use these new laws of visual content to up your marketing game and grow your business. Ignore them and you risk becoming obsolete.
How do your current visuals compare against these new laws? Are they giving you the results you want? Or are you struggling to create visuals that would interest your customers?
Author: Paul Bingham, COO Shuttlerock