5 Things to Keep in Mind When Using Visual in Content Marketing
Is it too hyperbolic for me to say that reading is a lost art? It began sometime last year when I looked at my bookshelf and saw that there’s at least five books sitting there that I haven’t read, which has never happened before. Right now, I’ve been carrying the same book since November (Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends), because I’m finding it hard to find the time to read that book. It’s not just that, I’m now skimming through more news than ever before and I’ve begun digesting the New York Times’ Modern Love column in podcast form instead of the usual text.
I mean, if this is happening with me, someone who’s been regularly reading for as long as I can remember, is it any surprise that the world in general has been pivoting to other types of content? Written contents are still out there but given the popularity of Instagram and YouTube, it’s understandable to see brands and marketers are including more visual contents in their content marketing strategy. Even written contents are now being peppered with other types of content to break the monotony.
Serving a visual feast
This is not in itself a bad thing, I understand that a dense, big block of text isn’t always attractive and that includes me. If my eyes are just the least bit tired, I usually just put on some music or a podcast and to close my eyes a little bit. Reading takes actual effort and unless the subject in question is something you’re deeply interested with, I wouldn’t be surprised to see most people’s eyes glazing over at the prospect of having to read a 3,000 words post consisting of nothing but text.
Content marketing should always be about demand and supply and if the popularity of both Instagram and YouTube is any indication, visual contents is definitely the way to go. Visual contents don’t necessarily have to exclude text; it just means that for the most part, the text isn’t the focus. Even with infographics, the text takes a backseat compared to the illustration. This doesn’t mean that using visual contents is a free-for-all, there are actually several things you have to watch out for when using them for your website.
Make sure you have permission to use them
One of the most common forms of images that you can find online is stock images. They’re bad and I’d advise you to always try to use original images but if you do manage to find an original image that actually suits your purpose, you have to check if you could actually use them. In fact, any images you found online could actually belong to someone else and this copyright issue is actually pretty important. If you’ve been following the news, you might’ve heard about something called, pardon my French, the Fuck FuckJerry movement. Yes, with double the fucks.
So basically, FuckJerry is an Instagram account by Elliot Tebele that earned its popularity by posting other people’s jokes without any attribution or compensation whatsoever. The outrage became big enough that Vulture’s Megh Wright began making a coordinated campaign to ask for followers of the FuckJerry Instagram account to unfollow them which eventually resulted in a statement from Tebele himself over on Medium. The message is clear people, try not to steal other people’s work, ask for permission and give credits where they’re due.
Use images that actually serve your content
One thing I’m seeing quite a bit is that websites tend to include images only for the sake of including images. They’re not exactly inappropriate but they don’t exactly add anything substantial either, they’re just simply there. This is a waste of space, especially if you have actually taken the extra effort to publish an original photo or illustration. Make sure to include visual contents that actually add something of value, like a screenshot or an illustration to accompany a guide or as an example when you’re doing a case study.
Make use of user-generated images
For businesses that deal in physical product such as fashion items, you could take advantage of social media platforms to include pictures of your customers wearing your product. Compile them into a slideshow or a video and make sure you give the original users a mention. This is great because other than saving you some time, it could also help nurture the relationship you have with your customers. If you want to go the extra mile, give those users a promotional code to use for their next purchase or some free swag to show your appreciation for them.
Go backstage and showcase your personal side
Because social media by nature is a casual platform, businesses are allowed to do things they might not be able to do in a personal setting. Cracking jokes, being snarky or posting memes are all fair game and you can also use social media platform to actually showcase the people behind your company. Post your employees’ antics, funny things that happen at a corporate event or show the people how your company celebrates the holidays. You need to remember that social media was meant to be fun.
Don’t go crazy with your images
As in, try to only publish images that you think people will understand unless the absurd nature of the image is what you’re actually going for. Add proper context if you feel the images can be misconstrued in some way. Like a bad joke, images taken out of context can easily be twisted and used for something outside of its original meaning and given the highly divisive nature of the world right now, that isn’t something you want on your plate. Monitor the reaction to your post and be quick to react to anything that seems out of the ordinary.