When you think of content marketing, what comes to mind?
More than likely, you think of a blog post with at least 1,000 words and a few stock images. Is that it? Is that the only kind of content marketing out there?
Definitely not. We shouldn’t forget about visual content marketing, and how powerful it can be.
What Is Visual Content Marketing?
Content marketing is about creating something that will provide our readers with value, and sharing it with them in a usable way. Visual content marketing is really no different; it is just another medium for our content. As the world becomes more and more saturated with businesses using content marketing, we are always going to be in need of finding ways to stand out. Visual content marketing is a great way to make this happen, and can be broken down into six basic types:
- Visual Note Taking
These methods can also make our content more shareable. We don’t need to look far to see that visual content reigns supreme on social networks like Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. With the addition of sites like Vine and Instagram, the visual renaissance is growing ever more prominent.
The reality is that visual content marketing is something that you need to be paying attention to, even if you have to learn to flex some different content muscles to do it right. Visual content marketing requires a different skill set, and you may even need to channel your inner designer (more on this later).
The first step to creating visual content marketing that has worth is to start thinking visually. What are some ways that you can make your content stand out in a visual way? How can you use graphics, photos, images, and video to share the content you’d normally write out as a blog post?
Here are a few examples from some of the best in the business to help you get some ideas rolling.
1) KISSmetrics Infographics
Not long ago, we tried our own hand at creating an infographic that covered the use of growth hacking and content marketing together. It was a huge success, and is still gaining traction and bringing in traffic.
Infographics still work, and KISSmetrics is one of the best in the business. On the KISSmetrics infographics page you will find dozens of examples of useful content that have been represented in a visual way.
Infographics are a great place to start your visual content marketing journey because the are closely related to content you’re used to handling (facts), and because the tools are readily available. A simple Google search can help you gather the right data, and there are many tools out there that will help you put it all together. If you have some basic Photoshop skills, you can even buy stock graphics and put the inforgraphic together yourself.
2) Target’s Pinterest Strategy
Target is a great brand that provides us with an excellent look at how businesses and brands can use sites like Pinterest to stand out. They have several boards, and use different strategies for each board. Target is a good example of a brand that is “doing it right.”
For brands on Pinterest, it can be easy to come off very generic and typical. Most brands simply post images of their products, which can work, but that method isn’t always as engaging as a graphic that combines images and text. Target’s Party with Pinners board does an especially good job of sharing images that are fresh, fun, and engaging.
3) Grammarly Cards
I am notoriously horrible with grammar, which means that I have tried everything under the sun to improve my efforts – including a paid subscription to Grammarly, an online proofreading and correction tool. As a result, I have been watching and enjoying their visual content marketing for years. Grammarly is particularly excellent at creating memes that provide value and humor for their followers.
One look at the Grammarly Pinterest page says it all. They consistently create funny, engaging, and audience-pleasing visual content for their brand. They call their creations “grammarly cards” and they make it easy to share and enjoy the images with friends.
Some of their cards are better designed than others, which proves that visual content doesn’t always require high quality design chops. Grammarly wins on humor and clever ideas rather than “high design.” This is a formula that just about anyone can duplicate.
4) The Home Depot On Vine
The Home Depot provides an excellent example of how the social network Vine can be used to create engaging visual content for our audience. Their Vine profile includes dozens of creative and interactive visual examples of content marketing like this one:
I particularly enjoy this example of one of their Vines for an upcoming workshop that will take place in their store. It creatively demonstrates the process that will be used while pitching their workshop at the same time.
Vines are easy for anyone to create. All you need is the app itself. Just be sure to share your vines on the appropriate social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
5) Starbucks On Instagram
Starbucks is a brand with a lot of personality. They make great coffee, but more than that, they are a lifestyle company. One look at their Instagram profile and you see this personality come to life.
While frequently showing off their products, Starbucks manages to do it in a unique way that truly represents their brand and not just a sales ad. Looking closely, you can see that they frequently mix up the feed with images that simply embrace their own values, and the interests of their followers.
6) Neil Patel’s Visual Guides
Neil Patel is a content marketing rockstar. He is also the creator of some very pleasing visual guides that he makes freely available from his blog. These guides take the content and format of an ebook, but display them in a highly visual way right on his website.
That strategy is brilliant.
Not only do the guides become highly sharable, but they also make a great landing page for search traffic.
You can take a look at Neil’s Beginners Guide to Online Marketing and get an idea of what this looks like. It is definitely a new approach to the old ebook standby.
7) Coca-Cola On Tumblr
Over the years, Coca-Cola has been a leader and trendsetter in the visual content marketing space. I distinctly remember watching their 2020 initiative video which emphasized their content marketing strategy as they transition from one-way messaging to content marketing that is optimized for audience interaction. The video itself was a killer example of visual content marketing. Another great example is the Coca-Cola Tumblr page.
Their Tumblr page is fun, quirky, and even interactive with a variety of animated gifs and brand memorabilia.
8) Evernote’s Videos
I love Evernote, and I am not alone. This standout notes application has many passionate fans, and Evernote has done a great job of capturing their enthusiasm through video. Their gallery includes dozens of videos ranging from product tutorials to tips, and even customer stories. The Evernote user story for US figure skater David Pelletier is especially compelling.
Evernote has done a great job of capturing the passion of their users and sharing it a visual way. Video may not be the easiest to master, but it is a very effective form of visual content marketing.
9) Whole Foods on Facebook
Whole Foods Market has long been at the top of my list as one of the companies leading the way in content marketing. They have a passionate audience, and an excellent understanding of how to tell their story in a visual way. For years, their Facebook page has served as melting pot of content marketing inspiration and community spirit.
While their page features a few photos of their products, it primarily consists of great graphics like this one that provide helpful advice to their audience that they can use with what they might purchase at Whole Foods. This is visual content marketing at its purest.
10) The GE Show
The GE Show is designed to help us understand the technologies that are changing our lives. GE provides stunning interactive games and interesting videos that tell the stories behind their technology. Each episode is an experience, and one that builds brand value and adds an element of play and fun to a viewer’s day. In other words, you can have fun while you learn.
The rails episode is particularly compelling…and distracting!
Good Visual Content Tells A Story
Traditional content marketing provides value to its readers, and so can visual content marketing. The true value of visual content marketing lies in its ability to tell a story quickly, sharing information in a way that is easily remembered.
Visual objects are emotional, and they can reach viewers in a way that is difficult with the written word. We often hear the phrase that “a photo is worth a thousand words” and this idea can certainly ring true with content marketing. Sometimes one photo or graphic is all we need to convey what we could have otherwise said in 1,000 words.
Bonus Tip: Channel Your Inner Designer
You may be wondering how a mere writer becomes a visual content marketer overnight. Don’t worry! There are many ways to make your visual content marketing ideas happen. Here are a few easy methods to help you get going on visual content marketing if you’re not yet confident to try it yourself:
- Hire a freelancer designer. Look for one at 99designs or dribbble.com, a social network for designers.
- Learn it yourself. Lynda.com has a ton of courses made for designers.
- Crowdsource! Do you have a community at your disposal? How can they contribute to your visual content? Consider a contest or showcase for user-generated content.