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“Consistency and repetition are the keys to brand memorability.” – Thibaud Clement
The images your brand uses are so much more than just pretty accents to entice social media users to stop scrolling. Visual communication can be more powerful at achieving marketing goals than any ad or tweet copy, so the visual content you share deserves a great deal of attention.
Your visual content marketing strategy shouldn’t just be limited to social media, however. In fact, articles or blog posts with images get 94% more views than those without images. For example, driving organic article traffic from Google Discover, which prefers content with high-quality images, is just another reason to ensure your visual content strategy is well-defined.
To learn more about visual content marketing best practices, we spoke with Thibaud Clement, CEO at Loomly, a collaborative platform for marketing teams. This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
Why should brands use more visual content?
First, visual content has the power to appeal to our always-decreasing attention spans. In a world where all of us multitask and face constant interruptions from work and life, images can stand out on our screens and capture our focus faster and more efficiently than text.
Second, once something captures our attention, visual forms of content can convey more information and emotion than text, making a more profound impression. A picture is, more than ever, worth 1,000 words.
Third, as a consequence of the above, because visual content is better at capturing and benefiting from our attention, it tends to provide better memorability for brands. Repetition is a marketer’s best friend, and visuals are the perfect medium to maximize the impact of repeat brand messages.
How can brands maintain a visual identity while also allowing for diversity?
Fundamentally, maintaining a visual identity relies on clear brand guidelines, i.e., a set of rules to use fonts, colors, logos and marks when creating new image assets.
From there, when creative teams repeatedly need to create different types of visual content with consistent constraints — for instance, for social media, where post formats are standardized — a best practice is to use templates. These streamline the production process and focus on bringing new ideas to life rather than reinventing the wheel with every new creative asset.
Once the consistency is ensured through brand guidelines and creation templates, a surefire way to bring diversity and creativity to the table is to operate as a cross-functional team. This not only involves marketing specialists but also collaborators from the product, sales, human resources, legal and finance departments, who will all contribute with a fresh perspective and take content creation to new heights.
Finally, the ultimate strategy to maximize both brand consistency and diversity is to implement an approval workflow. This allows the creative team to make sure all types of content being pushed out of the door are on-brand, typo-free and compliant with all internal business policies.
What are some of the best social media marketing tools? Which tools offer the most freedom to manipulate images?
Adobe Spark’s Spark Post is a simple and efficient way to create social media posts. If you are looking to design impactful social media graphics, all you need to do is pick a photo, add text, and apply design filters or animations to stand out from the crowd instantly. No design skills are required.
Canva is another popular and effective option to create beautiful social media posts. With thousands of templates, graphics, covers and banners, it is fast and easy.
We designed Loomly to make the entire content creation and publishing process a breeze, from asset management in a dedicated library, to image-sourcing through native integration with Unsplash and Giphy, seamless visual design with Loomly Studio (cropping, filters, stylized text) and, of course, automated publishing to your favorite social media platforms.
How can brands use visuals to build a strong social media content strategy?
Consistency and repetition are the keys to brand memorability. When leveraging visuals to tell their story over time, with consistent visual anchors across multiple posts and ads, brands not only stand out and make themselves recognizable; they become memorable, which is the first step towards achieving brand awareness, brand relevance and ultimately, brand trust.
How can marketers better optimize images and other visual assets for different social media platforms?
Each social network enforces its own set of limitations regarding file weight, resolution, aspect ratio and type. For instance, on Instagram, images cannot exceed 1080 pixels in width, on Twitter images must be under 5MB, and LinkedIn requires images to be less than 40,000 pixels in resolution. Knowing those limitations helps marketers create and publish visuals of the highest quality possible for each platform to make their brands appear professional, polished and pixel perfect.
On top of that, social media supports different post formats, such as link posts on Facebook, Stories on Instagram or app install pins on Pinterest. Understanding how these post formats respectively show up in users’ feeds on each network is critical to optimizing brands’ presence on the screen real estate available to them. There are also creative hacks you can use with ads.
Of course, optimizing visual marketing assets for each platform can quickly become time-consuming. Using a social media management tool that can streamline the process is a productivity hack that, once again, allows marketers to focus on substance rather than form.
How important are visuals for a blog post?
Visuals are vital for blog posts as they tremendously contribute to SEO.
First, visuals make content more discoverable through search engines. Not only do Google and Bing reportedly rank posts that include media assets (photos and videos), images also show up in image search results, where competition tends to be slightly lower, providing additional opportunities to surface in challenging niches.
The key to making this happen is to diligently optimize visuals for search engines by carefully defining metadata (title and alt text attributes). Bottom line: Visuals help drive more people to a blog post.
Second, visuals tend to decrease the bounce rate and increase dwell time, which are two critical factors to determine a page’s relevance for a given keyword.
Indeed, relevant images have the power of capturing the attention of a visitor when they land on a blog post as they feel less overwhelming than long blocks of text-based content, which, in turn, makes them less likely to hit the back button (bounce) and more likely to spend more time on the page (dwell). In other words, visuals help keep people on a blog post once they find it.
How can brands turn blog posts into engaging Instagram content?
Three best practices to repurpose blog posts into engaging Instagram content include:
- Posting a visual from a blog post as the image of an Instagram post, teasing users with an excerpt from the blog post in the caption of the Instagram post, and inviting users to read more by selecting a “link in bio.”
- Combining all the visuals from a blog post into a quick slideshow and publishing it to Instagram as a video. Loomly lets you produce videos from photos in one click from your library, for instance, making this process a breeze.
- Illustrating the main takeaways or data points from a blog post and placing them into a simple infographic. The infographic can either be published in a vertical format (taking up real estate in users’ feeds) or in a horizontal format, sliced into frames and published as a slide show. The latter offers an immersive experience to users who can swipe to see more content, which appears as a continuous image.
How can brands make their blog content more engaging?
Making blog content engaging is all about capturing the reader’s attention early from the moment they land on the page, and sustaining it as they scroll through content. The following best practices can help achieve this.
- Including media, be it photos or video content, makes a blog post more appealing, digestible, memorable and shareable. As mentioned above, visual assets tend to increase dwell time, which not only boosts SEO but also maximizes brand exposure. Photos help deliver more information in a shorter time frame, while videos make the article more interactive as they require the visitor to select to play them.
- Featuring quotable excerpts with social media share buttons throughout a blog post is an excellent way to do your readers’ legwork, so they only have one button to click. This allows them not to have to think twice about which part of your text they should emphasize if they want to tweet your article.
- Sprinkling bucket brigades — bridge phrases often used by copywriters to punctuate text content — throughout your blog post is a proven technique to break down the article’s flow, give readers a break between longer paragraphs and sustain their attention until the end.
If you found this interview insightful, sign up for SmartBrief on Social Business for frequent updates on how to optimize your visual content marketing strategy. For even more quality news coverage, sign up for any of SmartBrief’s 275+ newsletters today, free.
Evan Lauterborn is Audience & Content Development Manager at SmartBrief. He focuses on subscriber growth, subscriber retention, content and managing the @SmartBrief Twitter account. Connect with him on LinkedIn.