When I have initial consults with clients, their questions center around the logistics of social media, like, ”How often should I post on Facebook?” and ”How can I possibly say everything I need to in 140 characters?”
Don’t get me wrong — these are all important questions, and I’m happy when clients take the time to sort them out. But to me, they’re missing one key element: the visuals. In my opinion, the more relevant questions are, “How often should I post a photo/video to Facebook?” and “How can I say everything I want to say in an infographic?”
In other words, the visuals of marketing matter. Visual content drives engagement better than any other medium, and it allows us marketers to communicate complex messages in intuitive and interactive ways that get the user invested by making them a key part of creating their own experience. Visual content is also diverse, with a whole host of tools and strategies available. This helps keep our approach fresh and tailored to unique brands and hey, it’s also just fun.
So, how can you maximize your visual content on social media? Let’s take a look at these 5 key approaches.
1. Make Your Visuals DO Things
Flowchart infographics are a popular form of visual content, and it’s no wonder. With so many complex ideas to communicate, flowcharts make it much easier to quite literally follow logical causal lines. However, to stand out in a flooded field, consider doing something like this Dance Collaborations visual from Concert Hotels. Here, users can discover new music by clicking on each artist’s name, and they listen to new collaborations by pairing several of the suggested artists within the chart. It’s not hard to see how much more lively and interactive this makes the experience, with the user actively engaging with the piece. For Concert Hotels, a company that helps concert goers find hotels near their target venue, music is perfectly on-brand and helps establish the company’s passion and expertise in the area. What’s more, visitors are likely to click around the site once drawn into this fun tool.
2. Tour Your Users Through History
Sometimes, it seems that every other week one of the industry giants acquires a smaller company. But when you take a closer look at the numbers, each company has its tastes, and how much they’re willing to spend varies widely based on their stage of development.
The numbers are inherently interesting, but they’d still be a snooze if they were presented in an Excel file. Contrast that to this Hungry Tech Giants timeline from Simply Business, which allows visitors to sort acquisitions based on type (e.g. Search vs. Mobile acquisitions, and so forth), judge the amount of money spent based on the size of the circle and see how those acquisition patterns have changed over time. The colors and varying sizes make the timeline engaging, as does the interactive nature of the sorting tool. Altogether, this approach is fun and makes dry and potentially complex information interesting and discernible to the layperson, thereby garnering a high number of social media shares.
3. Visualize Data in Real Time
For similar reasons, it can be difficult to grasp which tech companies are pulling a profit and how quickly they’re growing given that the numbers are often on the level of billions. While anybody who is interested could simply pull up a few quarterly reports, it’s hard for a non-financial audience to understand what the numbers really mean, let alone to visualize the comparative growth of each company.
That is, unless they take a look at this visualization of tech revenue and profit, from WorldPayZinc. Just push play, and visitors can see how profit and revenue for each company grows per second. Visitors can also choose whether to view both profit and revenue or just one of the two so that they can make both intra- and inter-company comparisons. Naturally, this is far more engaging to watch than any other format, and it makes understanding the tech landscape much more intuitive. I, for one, hear so often about Facebook, I had no idea how small it would look against the likes of the far less “cool” Samsung. Who knew?
4. Provide a Decision Making Tool
Choices. They’re the blessing and the curse of modern existence. But for a company like Trainline, which guides customers to their ideal hotel, transportation and theater bookings, decisions are the stuff of everyday. The company’s excitement for their industry is demonstrated wonderfully in this interactive tool, “Choose Your Next Challenge: a Guide to UK Endurance Events.” Here, visitors can choose from such challenges such as “cycling” and “obstacle/mud,” and the tools suggests nearby events based on their zip code. This provides an engaging (and sly) demonstration of their core business capabilities, as it’s just another manifestation of what they do day to day but in a unique, surprising, helpful — and shareable — form.
5. Create Your Own Game
One of the chief hurdles for marketers to overcome today is that so many of their visitors get online to play games, meaning their attention span for marketing is next to none. But that can all change if the game is the marketing, as with Staples’ eReader Speed Reading test. Here, users get to test how fast they read and compare their speeds with friends, all on the mocked up platform of the device the company is looking to sell. Pretty neat, huh? While you may not have the budget for a game of this caliber, something as simple as a responsive microsite can be just as effective.
There’s no doubt about it: visual content is the best way to get shared on social media and beyond. And when your marketing is shared, your website traffic goes up — and so do sales. How will you begin? Let us know in the comments below.
by Jessica Edmondson