Drive Social Media Plans with Visual Content Marketing

by Gretchen Bulan   Last Updated Last Updated on Mar 13, 2015
Gretchen Bulan

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The wide adoption of content marketing strategies by business has led to a literal sea of content floating out there on the web. In fact, it would be hard to find a topic for which a wealth of information doesn't exist on the web. As more and more companies have realized that the way consumers research and shop has changed (to be highly internet search-based), it's become a race to the top of the search page for digital marketers eager to rank high in web search.

Traditional marketing materials have been replaced with websites and online content, including e-books, blogs and whitepapers. This is all good information, but the reality is that searchers don't have nearly enough time to read everything that's available. Among other uses, social media has emerged as a way for business to promote the viewing and sharing of their ideas and content.

Today, marketers are beginning to appreciate social media networks for what they really are: highly visual, short-form platforms with the potential to immediately attract and engage with consumers at all stages of the buyer's process. With the opportunity to shorten the sales cycle, building a social media presence is essential for business. Social media networks are the natural fit to feature and promote this visual content in some of the most appealing and interactive channels.

Visual Trends in Social Media

The rise of image-based social networks like Pinterest and Instagram represents a clear shift toward visual content marketing. Visuals shared on these networks are connected to the valuable information searchers are looking for: how tos, recipes, tips, current events. Most importantly for marketers, these visual elements are easily shareable with large audiences.

Businesses with existing content may have the biggest opportunities to re-fresh and re-purpose content to take advantage of visual content marketing trends. Text-based content can be re-invented to create new shareables, including:

  • videos
  • infographics
  • memes
  • slideshares
  • webinars
  • graphic treatment of quotes, stats, questions
  • whiteboards (real-time notetaking)
  • original artwork.

These types of visual content have been proven to impact the opinions and actions of online consumers. By increasing the use of graphic elements in social media and improving skills at doing so, businesses can reach more people and potentially engage with them at higher rates.

Why Use Visual content marketing in Social Media?

As explained above, visuals create instant understanding and are more shareable than text. Consider the fact that an image is processed by the human brain 60,000 times faster than text. As a way to convey meaning to a large audience, increasing the use of visuals in social media should be an obvious approach for digital marketers. The infographic below from B2B Infographics shows how much of an impact visual marketing is having on social media networks today.

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Improving your Visual Eye

Increasing the use of visual content in social media may be a process that takes time and planning for some companies. If your company has traditionally produced more text-based content, you may need to adjust your strategy and develop a graphic approach and the skills to support it. These initial steps will help the organization to shift to a more visual focus. Here are some tips for doing just this:

  • Hire a graphic designer. If you have the resources, a good in-house designer is a great addition to your team. A designer can transform text-based content into a wide range of attractive formats suitable for social media. A designer will also incorporate your brand themes into all the visual content you want to publish.
  • Re-purpose existing content with a visual theme. You already know your existing content well. With good guidance and tools, you can re-purpose and re-publish this content visually on social media, saving time and money.
  • Use simple graphic software. If your budget doesn't allow a full-time graphic professional, or even if it does, there are several options for the non-graphic marketer to produce visual material. Slideshare allows you to create easy-to-view and create slideshows from existing content. Canva is a simple graphic design tool that makes you look like a pro.
  • Learn from others on social media. If you're on social media, make an effort to become more of an observer than you have been in the past. Take inspiration or ideas from others on networks that you use and you'll start to pick up on trends that work on social media.
  • Don't tell, if you can show on social media. Once you change your approach to a visual one, each time you use social media, you'll automatically think visually. Make it a goal to include some visual element in every piece of content you post on social media.

How will your business Measure Results?

As with all digital marketing activities, measurement of social media results can be a challenge for some companies. To best measure the results of your efforts, you should invest in some type of tracking software. To increase your chances of success, you should first choose your social networks wisely. Choose visually-focused networks where you know your audience will be. Next, outline your social media goals, given your new visual approach. Here are examples of some performance indicators you may want to improve:
  • brand awareness
  • website visits
  • social following
  • shares, social proof/social currency
  • community discussion
  • leads / customers.
Does your organization plan to increase the use of graphics and visual elements in your social media strategy this year? Share your plans in the comments section below. Get some helpful ideas for using Facebook to attract new customers in our helpful e-book below.
 
 
Author
Gretchen Bulan

Gretchen Bulan

Gretchen is a Hubspot-certified inbound marketer helping organizations define and share their messages through blogging, e-mail marketing and other inbound activities.

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