If you had to tell your audience how many tweets are sent each second, how would you do it? Simply state the number — 7,362 tweets per second? Or, would you create a visual context to engage your audience?
That is the power of visual content. According to Marcel Just, the director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University, print is a human artifact and the human brain was built to process content visually.
The Power of Visual Content
- Write-ups with relevant images get 94% more views that the ones without.
- Only 20% people remember what they read, while 80% recall what they see and do.
- Posts that include images receive a 650% greater engagement rate than those that don’t.
- Emotions influence people’s purchase decisions, and visuals are more capable of evoking emotions than text can.
- 60% prospective customers are likely to contact a business when their image surfaces in local search.
Unless you intend to create all your visual content from scratch, you’ll require first, reliable sources for your visual content and second, a curation strategy rooted on knowledge of your customer base — who they are, what they’re interested in, and where they go to get information. To each of the listed ideas, apply this conquer-all curation formula – select, enhance and comment – to turn quick finds into great shares for your content hubs. Select the most relevant and appealing visual content, enhance it with the help of a visual editor and add your voice to it with a comment.
01. Curate images from free resources like Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons and Flickr CC
Why use free images: Of all the images you find on the internet, some of them have restricted access to use and distribute, while others are free for your use. Access is restricted when the owners of the image have registered copyrights over ‘an author’s specific expression in the artistic form’, according to the US copyright laws. Steer clear of these images and use only the images listed under the ‘Creative Commons’ license or an image that is labeled for reuse (or reuse with modification based on your requirement).
Even so, you are ethically bound to whoever has created the image, and should ideally provide them credit and space on your blog/social media post.
Where to find them: Thankfully, there are resources on the internet that stock copyright-free images in one place, making them easy for you to find:
How to curate them:
- Use a combination of words in the search bar to locate more specific ideas. Include adjectives or emotion driven words to surface more powerful content.
- Look at your competition and see what types of visuals work for them. See what types of visuals are pinned the most on Pinterest. You could also do a hashtag search on Twitter for inspiration.
02. Use stock templates and design guides from image editors like Canva.
Why use them: Another method of sourcing excellent visuals is to use pre-made templates that can be customixzed to perfectly fit what you need for your post. Sometimes you may find that all an image needs to be exactly relevant is a some text, an icon, or a few shapes. An editing app can help you put your masterpiece together.
Where to find them: Marketing services and content hubs like HubSpot often give away free templates. Online editor Canva hosts thousands of free templates for a wide range of blog and social media use. Canva’s easy to use design editor coupled with an amazing social graphics template collection lets you quickly and easily create graphics for your blog and all your social media platforms. The templates even follow themes like holidays, listicles, travel or food, to name a few.
How to use them: Choose a template from Canva to work with then pick the appropriate canvas size based on what you’re trying to create. If you have an externally sourced background image, hit upload to import your backdrop then customize other elements to turn it to your own custom post. You can even share your design straight to your social media pages.
For inspiration and instructions, you could refer to the relevant design guide on Canva’s Design School page.
03. Curate videos from YouTube and other video sources like Vimeo and TED
Why curate them: Did you know that videos generate 1200% more engagement than simple text and visuals on social media? As much as you’d want to regularly create your own videos though, sometimes it just won’t be possible considering how time and resource-consuming they can be to produce. Instead, you can leverage on video curation to add this much-coveted content on your own blog and social media.
Where to find them:
Video curators are very popular on YouTube. If your niche has multiple YouTube accounts worth following, you could create an account dedicated to making daily, weekly or monthly best videos for your audience to watch. The video description section on your YouTube account could include your comments on the video.
Vimeo works just as YouTube does, expect that it is more focused on curation and has ‘groups’ or communities where you can initiate discussions with relevant people. Both platforms offer analytics to help you the impact of the videos you share.
Meanwhile on TED, you can position your ambassador employees to represent your brand. Those employees can curate their favorite talks (related to your niche) for your fans to access.
How to curate videos for your blog or social media:
- Outline a listicle related to your niche, and embed or link-out to those videos.
- Add a critical commentary. Tell your subscribers or fans why they should watch the video, what it made you realize, how they can apply it to their business and what it is missing.
04. Curate GIFS via GIPHY, DrumUp and other sources
Why curate GIFs: A one minute video could be anywhere in between 50-200MB in size. The average download speed for mobile phones globally is 2.4 Mbps. This means that your subscribers who prefer watching videos on their mobile phones will have to endure a delay of several minutes to view your content. Considering that most people have an attention span of under eight seconds, you can’t solely rely on videos for animated communication.
- Most GIFs are just a few kbs in size (depending on how many images you combine to create them), making them super mobile-friendly.
- GIFs have the viral element on their own and could directly be responsible for an increase in your engagement (blog and social media).
- GIFs are a great opportunity for you to showcase your brand’s personality, capture your audience with a sense of humor and simply make them like you.
- GIPHY and GIF BIN store a bunch of cool GIFS for you to use.
- On DrumUp, you can curate GIFs from GIPHY while scheduling the rest of your content.
How to use GIFs to increase your blog and social media engagement:
- Decide what you want to accomplish with your GIF – promote a product or event, tell a story, explain a process or simply entertain your audience.
- Using relevant search terms, search for GIFs on Giphy, Imgur, 9Gag, Reddit or Tumblr. For GIFs, the easiest way to search is with an emotion word.
- Brainstorm on a great way to title your GIF post, then use the description to say something humorous that lets your personality shine through.
- You could also search and schedule GIFs when scheduling the rest of your social media content via DrumUp, a content curation app.
05. Curate infographics interesting Infographics from SlideShare or Visual.ly
Why curate Infographics: On an infographic, you can include three of the most engaging formats of content – statistics, visuals and storytelling. It is no wonder that tweets with infographics are retweeted 832% more. High quality infographics are also three times more widely shared than any other type of content. Creating them, however, is effort intensive and time consuming.
Where to find infographics:
How to curate infographics for your blog and social media:
- Choose the right topic. Look at what’s trending in your industry and decide on which infographic to curate. You could even pick the infographic to go with a write-up on your blog.
- Type the search terms + infographic on Google and identify the ones that aren’t subject to copyright.
To reduce manual effort you could search on infographic directories, SlideShare and in image resources. If you’re curating an infographic from SlideShare, you can retain the slide format by embedding the infographic – a great way to save space on a blog post and optimize screen space on a social feed.
- Attribute the creators. Doing that is ethically right and a great way to enlist some assistance in promoting your post.
- Double-check the studies they quote and overall quality because what you share will reflect your brand’s values and standards.
06. Illustrate key points with example using screenshots
Why use screenshots: A useful rule when writing is to show, and not tell, but I like Heidi Cohen’s version better for content marketing – show and tell, just like in kindergarten. Show your audience what you’re talking about, while you’re telling them how to do something. One of the best ways to use visual content on your blog is as a screenshot to make a point or illustrate an example. Having an image every 75-100 words doubles the number of shares a post gets, and there’s no simpler or more useful way to do it.
Where to get them: You can take screenshots of practically anything to explain a point on your blog post. All you need is a good screen capture app.
How to use screenshots to add value:
- Use cases – you could use a screenshot to substantiate a point or further a discussion.
- Tutorials – show you audience how to do something with the aid of a clear visual.
- Analytics reports – give your audience a glimpse of the data you have in hand in the most effective format, as a visual screenshot. Add credibility to a sales claim and back up your ad copy with a powerful numbers screenshot.
07. Curate quotes and tips against beautiful background images for high impact
Why curate quotes: One of the factors worth considering when curating visual content, is its shareability. Will your reader share what you’re adding to a blog post, or your social media page? Curate content that your readers are certain to share, and quotes are highly shareable. Spend ten minutes on any social media platform and you’ll see a whole bunch of quotes and tips, where people tag a bunch of friends – mostly shared by the regular, non-marketing crowd. This is because quotes are very relatable, easy to consume and share.
Where to get them:
- You could set keyword alerts – like ‘social media quote’ or ‘marketing quote’ on Google Alerts to make discovery easy.
- Create your own quote graphics with Canva
How to curate quotes that work:
- Create a list of experts or influencers in your niche to follow. Refer to their content for your quote or tip. You could use your own just as well, if it is truly inspiring or valuable.
- Decide on a theme to follow that reflects certain values. For instance, a social media management tool could choose productivity and efficiency as core values and curate quotes that inspire those values.
- Choose a palette close to your brand colors and use only them on your quote graphics.
- Once you have your quote or tip, you could use the right canvas size on Canva (based on where you intend to post it) to create your post.
- If you stick to a theme that resonates with your brand’s values for your quotes, you can powerfully establish a brand feel and identity, like Dove does below.
08. Use charts with attribution to data sources
Why curate charts: Data is often used to communicate relationships between two variables or quantities, and it is easier to make sense of that relationship and grasp the significance when the numbers are visually represented. In fact, a study has shown that visualization makes people see what they wouldn’t otherwise. Netflix’s Narcos series has applied data visualization in many interesting ways.
Most bloggers use data to substantiate their arguments. Instead of quoting a study or explaining it yourself, you could use a graph to do it for you. Visualization is a universal way to communicate important insights. If you’re trying to get an important message across and it involves numbers, do it visually. Doing so helps you get the point across quicker, which is absolutely vital for social audiences.
Where to find them:
- Again, keyword alerts like ‘statistics + social media’ or ‘case studies + marketing’ can be useful in finding the numbers.
- Meanwhile, you can create graphs on: Google Slides, Google Sheets or Canva.
How to visually represent curated data:
- Here’s an excellent example of data visualization posted by marketing expert Jeff Bullas. You simply need to represent the salient variables in an appealing and easy to understand format.
- Always attribute the organization or person who owns that study, because it is ethically right and adds credibility to your claims.
09. Curate customer testimonials or comments as powerful visuals
Why use customer testimonials: Close to 90% of marketers believe that customer testimonials are content marketing’s most powerful tactic. To quote social media expert Brian Solis, this is an age where your brand is defined by those who experience it. Curate testimonials that you have already got on your blog and social pages, and ensure to ask current clients for feedback however possible.
Where to find them: You could curate testimonials and feedback given on social platforms, on Google reviews, written forms and even the feedback verbally given, with consent.
How to curate customer testimonials for your blog and social pages:
- Set up a presence on all relevant review sites and ask for testimonials. Most happy customers wouldn’t mind sharing their experience, but so few marketers actually ask for it.
Think laterally. If you have great comments on your blog posts or on a feedback form lying somewhere, use them. Place the text on a simple background and add names, photographs to increase the credibility of the testimonials (best to get permission for this). Video testimonials are also quite popular on social media.
If your company runs social media contests regularly, there is a lot that you can do with the winners/participants. Ask the winners for a quote. If your prizes or contest experience are exciting enough, the chances are that you’ll earn valuable advocacy from the winners or participants.
10. Curate customer generated content and contest results as powerful visuals
Why curate user-generated content: Customer generated content adds credibility to your brand and builds trust with prospective clients. People are more likely to buy from you if they see others using your product. Involving other people (‘people like me’) in communicating something about your brand is a proven psychological trigger in decision making. Curate customer generated content to impact your social media and blog audience.
How to get them: You could curate photography contest entries (where your product is part of the photos in some way), contest results or even your blog comments visually to drive impact on your audience.
How to curate customer generated content visually:
Run a contest or campaign that highlights usage of your product, like GoPro does with its ‘photo of the day’ and ‘video of the day’.
- Announce winners and tag them on social media to spread the enthusiasm, attract more participants and enlist help in promoting your content.
Visuals can clearly earn you more engagement on your blog and social media, and help you communicate and connect with your audience more effectively. With the tactics and resources mentioned on this post, you can implement visual marketing powerfully on your blog and social pages, without using up too much of your time. All that’s left to see is how you decide to use them.