According to Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends Report, the average article reaches half of its total social referrals within 6.5 hours on Twitter and 9 hours on Facebook. In other words, content grows old quickly, and communicators have only a fleeting moment to make a memorable brand impression on audiences scrolling through an endless stream of information on their newsfeeds. Amy Binder, owner and CEO at RFBinder Partners joined PR Newswire’s Senior Vice President of marketing, Ken Wincko, for an exclusive roundtable discussion on the growing impact of visual communications in integrated campaigns. The conversation explored various case studies and successful tactics that brands should incorporate into their visual storytelling strategies.
Create a steady stream of content
Expertise and time are two of the major challenges that content creators are facing, which can hinder the effectiveness of campaigns. “62% of marketers are building content on a case by case basis,” cites Wincko from a 2014 Forrester report, “but content should create an ongoing relationship.” If content is created on a case by case basis alone, it will only cater to a portion of the complete buyer’s journey.
To navigate these obstacles, communicators can reuse the content they’ve already created and reformat it for different platforms. Sites such as CEO.com are making use of “charticles,” which essentially cut the text of traditional articles in half and replaces it with informative and visually appealing charts and graphs. These charts and graphs can stand on their own on social media, as well as circulated within other types of content such as press releases or email campaigns.
Take advantage of a trending topic that applies to your brand
Leveraging the popularity of a trending topic is a great way to attract views for your content, but the context of a trending topic has to make sense for the brand to avoid seeming like a forced attempt at getting attention. Binder pinpoints Tide’s recent Game of Thrones themed infographic titled, “A Season of Stains” as a brilliant example of using visuals to spark social media engagement and grab headlines. “The brand leveraged pop culture in an innovative way by taking a trending concept and applying it to their business,” Binder says of the infographic, which was tweeted the day after the television series’ highly anticipated season finale. The context made perfect sense;“memorable stains” highlighted in the infographic such as blood, dirt, and grass that accrue on the battle fields in Game of Thrones are some of the same stains that parents struggle to wash off of their children’s clothing.
Convey your message faster by keeping it simple
In the precious seconds that brands have to attract the interest of their audience, clear and concise messages are the most effective. “If it’s simple you can scan it and see it at the same time,” Binder explains, “If you want them to grasp the concept as quickly as possible, something has to strike them.” Truvia’s “Keep Calm” meme is an example of very simple-yet-effective visual content. It contains minimal branding, and captures the passions of their target consumers with a short and memorable phrase.
Your influencers are evolving – know who they are
The types of interactions that companies should have with their customers are greatly dependent on what the business is trying to sell, so there is no single approach to communications that will meet the needs of every brand. This is where the power of strong relationships with online influencers such as bloggers, journalists, analysts, and their respective networks has the greatest impact. Brands should listen to their influencers and gain insight on what types of content they are looking for and learn who can share that content in order to earn third party credibility. Binder reminds communicators that a brand’s influencers can change over time, and their feelings towards certain topics can evolve as well. Effective communicators stay up to date on what those perspectives are and respond appropriately.
Do not oversell
Binder notes that often times, ad agencies that are participating in social media tend to lean towards traditional sales pitches that are no longer effective. “In the debate between advertising versus PR, PR will win,” asserts Binder, “people don’t want to be sold to, they want to be engaged. If they sell, it goes against what social media is all about.”
The standards of visuals are raising now that more rich content is being created, which means that brands need to figure out additional ways of amplifying those messages to stand out. The key is to use visuals as a way to capture a story that is unique to the brand in order to leave a positive and long-lasting impression on the audience.
Note for PR Newswire members only: you can organize your visuals for quick and easy deployment using Media Studio in the Online Member Center. Click here to create a gallery or learn more.
Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s content marketing coordinator. Tweet her your favorite examples of branded visual content @sramloch.