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For better storytelling, a picture is worth a thousand words.

June 4th, 2013  |  Published in Content Marketing

Tell better stories with visualsIn case you weren’t sure, Content Marketing is storytelling. And if your want your stories to stand out, be remembered or shared, you need to add visuals to them.

Today, text is the default storytelling medium. And that’s ok to a point. Because all search is built on words, you need your words optimized so that people will find your stuff.

However, telling stories with visuals is different. Because visuals evoke emotion, communicate instantly and create a completely different impression than the written word. As a result, they’re going to make your story more approachable, more interesting and more likely to be shared with others.

The numbers paint a convincing picture.

Recent research has shown just how important visuals can be for improving content:

Ask yourself if you think a straight-up Microsoft Word press release is exciting or worth sharing with others? Telling stories visually can make a huge difference in how you will be noticed, remembered or shared. To that end, consider these 6 tips for adding visuals to your stories to get better content marketing results.

1. Don’t intimidate, invite.

WordGraphic2_590w
Unlike a dense block of text, visuals are inviting. If readers are intrigued to check your content with a strong headline, it’s vital to keep the reader engaged and moving through the rest of your content.

Visuals can do a lot to support and further the content title and your subheads. Remember that readers will scan your content to get the gist of your story before they do a deep dive and read all the detail. As the examples above demonstrate, using typography as a visual to compliment an idea or concept is a great way to accomplish this.


2. Make it a magnet.

Communicate ideas with visuals
People are naturally attracted to images and pictures—especially if they have other people in them. Well composed, well lit and provocatively cropped images will do a lot to communicate an idea quickly and inspire your audience to read your entire post.


3. Don’t say it, prove it.

The adage that a picture is worth a thousand words has never been more true. By showing a visual (even a pie chart) you telegraph the meaning of so many more words. And visuals can dramatically emphasize a key point in your story and intrigue people to read the rest. When your story has a lot detail, Infographics are a great way to compress a lot of storytelling into a single image. One of the best sources for fresh and interesting Infographics is visual.ly.


 

4. Share what people want.

Pinterest_Buttn_590w Data scientist, Dan Zarella, from inbound marketing experts Hubspot, has done research that indicates that photos on Facebook perform best for likes, comments, and shares when compared to text, video, or links. So be sure to make it as easy as possible for people to share your visuals with “pinnable” one click visuals that can be shared on Pinterest or other Social networks.


 

5. Support and differentiate your brand personality.

Photo_Collage_590w The images and visuals integrated into your stories and content can do a lot to set you apart from your competitors and define a personality for your brand. Without consistently high quality visuals, building a memorable personality for your brand is going to be a lot harder and lot more boring.


 

6. Enhance your chances of getting found.

Alt Text Just like you optimize your post content, make sure that you optimize your visuals too. Every visual should include the ALT TEXT and image descriptor tags that integrate the keywords of your content. Your carefully constructed and considered visuals should work hard to enhance your story. And they should also enhance the opportunity for your content to get found through search on the web. With properly optimized images, your chance of driving searchers back to your site significantly improves.


 

7. Bring your visuals to life with motion.

Vine is a great new app that can be used to create a 6-second video that you can share with your audience using Twitter, Facebook, and your website or blog. As attention spans continue to shrink online, six seconds might be all that you have, and need, to emphasize a point.

While 6-second videos don’t sound like much, they can be very effective for promoting and enhancing the reach of your content through social media. Because of their small file size these little storytelling gems can be easily shared on the popular social networks.


8. Guide visitors through a self paced story.

SlideShare is a perfect solution to guide your readers through a story at their own pace. At SlideShare, you upload PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote and OpenOffice presentations which can be viewed on the site, on mobile devices or embedded into other sites.

You can also encourage people to register to view your other presentations and it’s a fantastic tool for enhancing your SEO for lead generation.


Recap

If you want your content to be memorable, shareable and findable, you’re going to have to leverage the power of visuals, photographs, video and graphics for a successful content marketing program. These are just a few of the many ways you can build your brand beyond just the written word.

How about you. Are you telling better stories with images? Are your customers noticing, commenting or sharing? Fill us in!


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Paul Pruneau, and Teamworks Communications, Inc., develop communications and brand strategy, engineer content to express customer value, and create integrated online and Content Marketing solutions to help businesses succeed. Follow Paul on Twitter, connect on Google+, send an email or just call 415.789.5830.

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