Visuals can be great for your content strategy. And you will find plenty of advice on how incorporating visuals is essential for online success. But that advice is incomplete if it does not emphasise on the importance of following an exhaustive process for crafting content for the visual creatives (infographics, videos, GIFs etc).
A visual creative is a result of a number of steps that involve the same strategies (requirement gathering → analysis → representation) as a textual post does, but more extensive; more extensive because of the amount of elements that go in the making.
The making of a successful visual creative
A visual piece is a sum of a number of elements. For infographic, visual depends a lot on text. GIFs, on the other hand, are almost text independent. Videos utilize everything from text to colors to audio.
The effectiveness of a visual creative hence becomes dependent on the optimization of these elements. Additionally, all these elements play the role of ‘content’, where colors, subject, placement, balance; everything matters.
So the path to creating a successful content strategy for your visual takes an extensive approach that encompasses everything from design, content types, platform optimization etc.
To give you an exhaustive insight of this visual process , here we have compiled a no-fluff guide that helps you craft content for visual creatives:
Map out your marketing goals and conceptualize visuals accordingly
The type of content you use to approach your audience depends largely on your marketing goals. Since there are various touchpoints at which you will meet the user in their purchase journey, it makes sense to not depend on one kind of format. Additionally, different points require different level of detail.
Planning content for visuals is thus dependent on the level at which that visual will be used. For awareness stage, short form content is great. However, for stages that involve evaluation, the content must be more informative.
The first step in content plan for a visual is to clearly define your marketing goals. Why does visual content matter to you? What are you using it for? At what marketing stages will you use it?
Answering these questions will help you decide the right content type for the amount of information you want to convey and the mood you want to create.
Begin by assessing the requirement of that particular marketing stage. For instance, when the goal is to persuade your audience by creating an emotional connect, video is more useful than an infographic or even an image. Similarly, when the intent is purely educational, infographic is more reliable than a video.
Defining your marketing goals helps you in an effective conceptualization by translating requirements into useful and relevant content.
Map the awareness, evaluation, purchase and delight stage to specific visual creatives by finding the visual type that can fit the content volume for a particular stage.
Re-purpose existing content to present information visually
A lot of visual content is created from existing blogs, e-books, industry reports etc. This strategy considerably minimises the effort in planning content for visuals. And it works well.
By recycling your existing posts and turning them into new content formats, you can reach out to a new set of audience and revive old but useful stories that are evergreen.
When following this approach, the stress should be on optimising the delivery style so the existing information gets a fresh spin. Here are a few ways in which you can re-purpose old posts:
Case studies → Infographics
Translate case studies into short and useful infographics. These infographics can then be used alone or even in blog posts to deliver relevant information in fewer words.
How-to blog posts → How-to videos
A large chunk of how-to posts are evergreen which remain relevant long after they are published. Breathe life into these posts by turning them into videos. These videos can be used on your website and shared on social sites for a wider reach. In fact, these videos have moved a step ahead and have found their way to search results too.
Search engines are evolving continuously to push visual content to the first page of search results. Take the case of Google suggested clips where a how-to query will likely display a video clip which dominates the first fold.
You can turn this feature to your advantage by converting old how-to blog posts into how-to videos. Try to keep these videos as information rich as possible. Prioritise on giving the answer to the how-to problem. Make sure that you put out this how-to video on Youtube.
Blog posts → Infographics
Blogs can be repurposed to any content type. Blogs (of short length) can be easily turned into infographics by elimination of irrelevant text. These infographics can then help in creating better appeal by fighting text redundancy. Just make sure that infographics are focused on only one major subject.
Landing page data → Explainer video
Explainer videos on landing pages can reap conversions of upto 80%.
Your website’s landing page textual data can be turned into an explainer video to reduce the volume of text and introduce your brand in a way that is more engaging by tapping into the power of storytelling. The translation of landing page data into explainer video also eliminates the salesy tone and helps your in making your brand more genuine.
Demo/process guides → GIFs
A short product demo can be made more interactive and less stressful by converting it into a GIF. Use functional/feature demos in creating the content for your GIFs.
Blog post mood→ Images
Blog posts have a certain mood associated with them. The mood can be funny, information heavy, sad etc. Turn this textual mood into an image that resonates with the core theme of the blog. Like for a post that talks about motivational tips, you can create a series of quote-inspired images to amplify the message.
Minimise your content creation efforts for visuals by relying on existing textual information. Re-purpose old ideas and give them a visual facelift.
Gather new data to create more meaningful visuals
Visuals create engagement but repetition causes visual exhaustion. To create visual content which is more useful, it is important to look beyond recycling and bring uniqueness. While extensive first hand research might not be an affordable solution for everyone, there are a few ways in which you can execute this:
Create surveys and online polls
The information collected from first-hand surveys can be great for your visual creatives, especially infographics, charts etc. These surveys can be based on audience’s reactions or industry trends.
Use social polls to create an extra layer of interaction for your audience and use the gathered information for visual content creation. As an example, a food and beverage brand can create a poll to understand customer preferences and then use that data for a visual information piece.
Pick relevant themes based on trending topics
Utilize the trending section on social platforms to craft content for your visuals. This helps in crafting posts with content that has a higher chance of going viral, because the content topic is already popular.
But that’s not all. You can also pick real-life themes as content idea for your creatives. Pick important calendar events, center your monthly themes around them and celebrate the mood with your visuals.
Did you know that the script of the movie ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ had visual storyboards?
Visual storyboards are an important part of the video production process. The design team relies on them to create more effective videos.
These storyboards don’t necessarily have to be restricted to your internal video production. You can use them as visual creatives by putting them on social channels or your own website to showcase how a rough visual creative paves the way for a polished visual like video.
Use polls, contests, trending themes to gauge the mood of your audience and translate it into content for your visual piece.
Follow the design principles
The effectiveness of your visual content is also dependent on the design. For visuals, design is a part of crafting content because the subject the subject delivers information without the necessity of text or audio. So design elements play a crucial role in the effectiveness of the creative.
Here are few design principles you must incorporate when crafting content for your visuals:
Rule of thirds
The rule of thirds is a significant principle in graphic design. And it takes up a crucial role in your visual strategy as well.
This design principle optimizes the visual content based on our visual behavior (the pattern in which we scan a visual).
The method works by splitting the image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. The points where these lines intersect are the sections where user pays the most attention. This is extremely crucial in subject placement, in images, animated graphics and even video frames.
- Use shape, size and color to create hierarchy
In a good visual strategy, a lot is said without depending on words. Here is when hierarchy comes into play. You can incorporate contrasting elements by using elements of different size, shape and color. This is useful when creating content that compares different trends, numbers, stats etc.
- Arrange elements using grids to create symmetry
Putting different elements into a specified width helps in creating balanced alignments. In fact, grids also help in creating a balanced asymmetric value (remember that balance can be both symmetric or asymmetric).
- Create repetition with content
Repetition is one of the basic pillars in advertising because repetition can help make a message and therefore a brand, more memorable. So it makes sense to use this factor while crafting content for a visual piece. Repeat content subjects or textual information but make sure to bring variety with colors, placement, contrast etc.
Implement design principles to highlight the important piece of content in your visual. These principles (rule of thirds, visual balance etc) help in reducing the possibility of visual clutter.
Optimize visual creative for the platform
- Platform’s visual preference
Depending on the channel being used to reach the audience, the right visual type should be picked. Infographics blend into the layout of Pinterest and these graphics rely heavily on visual appeal of the content. Facebook pushes live videos to the top; the content for which can be used to cover offline events, virtual product launches etc.
Optimise these visuals with hashtags, relevant headlines, descriptions etc.
- Call to action
CTA buttons and CTA text, both are important content elements in a visual. CTA buttons play a crucial role from the design perspective and text plays when crafting content for your visuals, CTA gains a rather significant role because this is what ultimately drives the user to take the intended action.
To make your visual CTA content more compelling, offer crisp information and do not confuse the user with multiple options. Write text that aligns with your visual message.
- Video subtitles
Since social video is largely watched without sound (around 85% for Facebook), video subtitles become a crucial content part of the video. These subtitles emerge from video scripts. Don’t leave your video without subtitles especially when you are putting them on a social platform.
Optimise visual’s content to match the mood of your audience on the platform where the visual is being uploaded to. Re-purpose the visual piece on one platform to create a new visual content format that is prioritised by another platform.
Visuals break the monotony problem created by text and facilitate more interaction by boosting engagement. The process of crafting content for visuals begins by an extensive analysis of your marketing goals and then fitting the visual piece that best matches that goal.
For giving detailed tutorials, videos can work as the most preferred formats since they deliver a large amount of information in a short amount of time. For dealing with a focused subject that doesn’t rely on a huge volume of content, infographics can be great. Similarly, content for images can taken from the mood of the post being created.
The key to creating great visual content lies in following a creative approach when crafting content for these visuals. To create content for a visual that has the value of ‘king’, there is a necessity to focus on the various content parts that build that piece.