If Content is King, Visuals are His Queen

The “power” of content is a widely discussed and acknowledged topic in the social media world. And it's one of my deepest convictions that great content is the best way to connect with customers and community members on social channels. Take a minute to reflect on the last Facebook post or Tweet your company shared that received the most Likes, Retweets, Comments or Replies. Likely, it focused on compelling content that resonated with your audience.

But as with traditional communication channels, the written word can be tremendously more powerful when combined with visuals. The recent rise of social network dedication to enhancing visual integration – beyond visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, even Facebook has introduced larger images to foster visual experiences  - signals the opportunity for social and word-of-mouth-practitioners to embrace visual elements in their storytelling and social content sharing.

Pair recent surges in adoption and use of visual-focused networks with the findings that page views are 94% higher when containing an image or visual elementand posts on Facebook including photos generate 120% more engagement. The connection between user experience and engagement crystalizes, visual storytelling deepens connection with online communities.

How does this translate to social media storytelling and content sharing?

Make it about the story, not the product

Slowly, “marketing by megaphone” is dwindling in efficiency. Talking incessantly about your product isn’t going to raise consumer interest. However, telling an impactful story about why your product is meaningful to your audience promotes emotional connection.

Tiffany and Co. offers a highly visual product line that in and of itself catches the eyes and hearts of romantics. At the heart of this connection is love and that’s just what they highlighted with their recent “What Makes True Love” Instagram campaign. Letting users share pictures highlighting moments of love with loved ones, images of “what makes true love” were aggregated and shared to create a visual collage that embodies the brand spirit.  (Yes, people also chose to spotlight pictures of their Tiffany and Co. jewelry.)

HomeAway has created an evergreen oasis of visual inspiration with their corporate Pinterest account. Knowing that customers are impacted by the emotional connection of a beautiful view, outdoor experience or indoor housing feature, HomeAway shares a board of stunning images representing the reasons why travelers use their vacation rental service. It’s about the experience, not the service provider.

Showcase how customers are using

Great products are made more appealing when a brand can showcase how it’s being used. Retail and CPG brands have a leg up in finding ways to illustrate this beyond photoshoots of product packaging.

 Sally Hansen, household beauty brand, knows customers use their product in various unique ways. Celebrating this with user generated content, Sally Hansen’s Dare to Bare Facebook Application showcases customers’ original use of products. Customers literally help spark new ideas for use and provide visual inspiration to other Fans.

Let visuals do the talking

We are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages daily as consumers. Snagging a user’s attention in the brief second you have to attract their eye is easier with compelling images. If ever there was time to embrace the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” it’s now.

Starbucks uses this strategy in its transformation of Timeline to emphasize alluring images of products, stores and novel customer touch points. These simple yet captivating pictures draw in Fans from the newsfeed and increase engagement by connecting to the caffeine-loving-heartstrings of social customers.

Instead of bombarding Fans and customers with endless lists of product features, AT&T incorporates expressive pictures of their products as a mainstay on their Facebook Timeline, emphasizing simple everyday, and sometimes aspirational, uses of their phones.

Let your customers be advocates

Bolstering the move from megaphone marketing, brands like Levi’s and Ford are putting the visual reins in the hands of social customers.

Levi’s created an Instagram campaign seeking the next #IAMLEVIS model. The concept: customers share pictures of themselves wearing their favorite denim and demonstrate how they embody the brand. Levi’s both placed the power of advocacy in the hands of their target audience and stimulated WOMM by inspiring brand advocacy, choosing the best shots to feature in an upcoming ad campaign.

Social media innovator Ford used community-sourced images to fuel their recent #Fiestagram campaign. Users could share pictures connecting beloved features of the Ford Fiesta to everyday experiences, with the best photos featured in galleries and digital billboards across Europe. 

The brave new world of visual storytelling in social is only in its infancy. How will you seize the new opportunities to inspire WOMM and engagement with your brand?

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