The No-Fluff Guide To Crafting Content For Visual Creatives

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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?

Visual creative

Source

 

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.

Key takeaway:

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.

Key takeaway:

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. 

Employ storyboards

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.

Key takeaway:

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.

Visual balance 

  • 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.

Key takeaway:

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. 

Key Takeaway:

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.

Final Words

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. 

 

What is not good for the swarm is not good for the bee

Swarm of bees

The above title line is from ‘Marcus Aurelius’, the Roman emperor best known for his meditations on Stoic philosophy.

If you happen to travel in one of the suburban trains leading north of Melbourne’s CBD, chances are that a huge advert hoarding erected at one of the busy railway stations enroute will catch your attention. It is something you cannot miss, as you sit inside the train staring far into the vicinity.

The hoarding painted in attractive colours with “Find your true north- by Jeep compass” boldly written stands proudly in public display. Incidentally, ‘Compass’ is one of the car models from Jeep’s stable. Advertising companies have their way and the slogans and advert lines are very creative with messages transcending cultural norms and captivating the masses who read it in myriad different ways. So much so, that it has captivated me and has set a trail of thoughts to write this small piece.

Whether they are communicating their brand story or not but it does create sentient thought patterns for many of the onlookers who happen to look at it at the same moment.

I think that is brilliant.

Purely as a metaphor, to find your true north is all about finding your own right path. To that extent, personally I think most part of our lives we are uncertain as to the future direction that we need to take.  Knowing our true north would enable us to tread on the right path.  Being in that state of uncertainty is key and essential.  By truly acknowledging and knowing the uncertainty, new paths or directions seem to open.

 A swarm of shore birds all moving and acting as one. There is no leader. Video credit: Pixabay

The golden shiners

Moreover, this is exactly what a swarm of Golden shiners seem to exhibit and behave so that ‘new paths’ or rather the right path opens for them as a whole.

Golden Shiners are a small fish native the shores of North America. They are best studied for their swarm behaviour by the evolutionary biologist Dr Iain Couzin from Princeton University. Brilliant as they are, the fish exhibit remarkable intelligence as a shoal. From a fish sense, so to speak, the individual fish are one-dimensional i.e. they can only see lighter or the darker areas of the ocean. However, as a swarm they are able to gauge other dimensions and swim en-masse quickly to safety.

There is no computation involved at all. They simply trust their neighbour fish and stick to their instinct. They swim in tandem and do not collide with each other. Together as a swarm, they are able to assess the other dimensions of speed, direction, distance and effort required to swim to darker areas to avoid other predatory fish. Almost all social animals- flocking birds, bees, ants, elephants,  humans watching a single event at random at any given moment in time and even rule based robot swarms exhibit and conform to the patterns of swarm behaviour.

The group mind

Talking about humans, the idea of a group mind is fascinating. Gustave le bon, the French polymath who is best known for his work “The crowd, a study of the popular mind” in 1895 must be one happy man in his grave.  Much of his humanistic view on crowds has seen rapid resurgence in the past 10 years with the advent of social media.  He talks about the hypnotised individual falling into the hands of the hypnotizer and thereby creating a ‘crowd effect’. The hypnotizers are none other the members of the crowd.

There have been opposing views in the media in recent times on losing our unique individuality and the crowd is swaying us.  I think it is important to be a human being first, be self-aware to immerse yourself to find your own unique voice.  Your thoughts, intentions and voicing your opinion is important.  Individual thoughts and feelings are simulated by each other’s thoughts and feelings. Most often, there is usually a common cause in the group and your unique thoughts and feelings contribute to that group cause.

Perhaps this is most aptly seen in the use of social media where countless members of the public tweet at the same moment through hearsay creating a flash mob kind of an event.  Such groups have minds of their own, which is quite distinct from the individual minds who tweet. Incidentally, the dramatic rise and popularity of Twitter came about when the founders introduced and advertised their new network at an American Super-bowl event and almost everyone in the stadium tweeted to their friends outside at the same moment.

The Big Data moment

This leads us to managing the enormous context data that Social media channels generate at any moment. Google processes about 24 petabytes of data at any given day. This data is not arranged in rows and columns and is largely unstructured. We call it the ‘Big data’.  Big data can come in all forms ranging from social media likes, tweets, posts and comments. Analysing such enormous data is no easy task. Gleaning information and searching for meaning in that data is a key differentiator factor for competition says Mckinsey, who published a report “Big data – The next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity” some time back.

The question is “how to make better use of this data?” and “what are the challenges in analysing it?” Answers to such questions look bleak even after 5 years since the term “Big data” was first coined. Mining such huge data requires data mining technologies – data mining grid and map reduce infrastructure such as Hadoop. Leave alone the steep learning curve it demands, it is not cost effective either.

As the events are dynamic in a social network, predicting where a social conversation will lead to and identifying trend patterns becomes difficult. There is undeniably elements of uncertainty, which need to be factored in when asking the right question and knowing when to ask it at the start of the day.

“The world is built on unbound data. Think of ourselves as machines and our brains as the processing engine” says Thomas Henson. Thomas is an author and podcaster at the Big data analytics community at Dell EMC. He is also an unstructured engineer and a Hadoop black belt. I happen to be part of the Dell EMC community as an external community member and had commented on Henson’s blog posts last year.

According to him all unstructured data is unbound data. He further narrates a sequence of events in a typical day of his life.

“Yesterday I was walking across a parking lot with my 5 year old daughter. How much unbound data that I process and analyse?

  • Watching for cars in the parking lot and calculating where and when to walk
  • Ensuring I was holding my daughter’s hand and that she was still in step with me
  • Knowing the location of my car and path to get to car
  • Puddles, pot holes, and pedestrians to navigate”

He surmises that all the information presented above is infinite and unpredictable and there could be others factors (weather etc.) that could be introduced.

Such unstructured data presents infinite possibilities and is not worth measuring unless there is a specific problem. It is in the “Knowing” what to measure, that it presents its challenge.

Interestingly, Louis Rosenberg an American Inventor and Entrepreneur has shown that meaningful predictions can be made through small swarms. In 2014, Rosenberg founded the Unanimous AI network, which enables humans to enhance their collective intelligence modelled after swarms from the animal world.

By asking worldly questions to small swarm of diverse unrelated respondents, he has shown that swarms in small numbers can have remarkable prediction capabilities than a huge crowd. The respondents answer with a simple yes or no at any given moment in time.

In one of his experiments for predicting the outcome of an English Football league match, despite being 16 times smaller, the swarm’s prediction was correct for 68% of the predictions, compared to 48% of the crowd. Such swarm intelligence is all about making use of intuition, knowledge and wisdom that is already present within the group.

In all of its successes, the caveat is that selfish interests of people in the group can act against the interest of the group and sway the decision-making.

Such caveat exists even in unpredictable crowd behaviour where history is replete with incidents of crowd unpredictability. The human crush that happened during the FA football cup in England in the year 1988 was disastrous. Football fans behaved in an erratic manner in the stadium, which resulted in a human crush. It was a bizarre incident and experts were clueless on what caused it.

Similarly, the stampede that occurred at Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 2015 during the annual Hajj where thousands died during that disastrous event. Experts were baffled and nobody knows what caused it.

Quest to find the True north

Coming back to the Golden shiners, perhaps we can learn one or two from the no brainers’ fish. The golden shiners are highly opinionated fish. Fish behaviour has caught the attention of the popular culture and researchers have started seeing parallels in societal behaviour and in the political system. There is talk about ‘fish democracy’ in recent times.

An interesting report was published in the science daily in 2011 which talks about how group consensus can be swayed for the good by the introduction of uninformed individuals thereby diluting the power of minority who would other tilt the balance unevenly. It is titled “Less knowledge, more power – Uninformed can be vital to democracy”. In a gist, it has always been that the entrenched minority with absolute resolve is capable of exerting the right influence to pull the crowd compared to the majority with less resolve.

Then the equations change when you throw a bunch of uninformed and unrelated individuals into the mix. Uninformed individuals – as in people with no prior knowledge or have strong feelings on the outcome always stick with and amplify the numerical majority. The minority, firm in their resolve and their course of direction locked, were lost.

When this was experimented on the Golden shiners, the results were dramatic and conclusive. There were two small groups of fish. One was the minority and the other was the majority with slightly higher member count. The minority was highly trained with a tight resolve to gravitate towards their natural tendency – a shade of colour, which they like. The majority group was trained to align their direction towards another colour shade, with less resolve.

When a new group of untrained fish was introduced, the fish gravitated towards the majority in the shoal who had less resolve and even though it was not their natural tendency.

The important findings were based on experiments on groups of fish, as well as mathematical models and computer simulations. Such experiments inform us that there is an evolutionary function for being uninformed which is as active and valuable as being informed and raises many other questions on what sways consensus and on the dynamics of group decision making.

Perhaps the newly introduced fish recognise and acknowledge that uncertainty by simply joining the majority. Even if there is no resolve, a simple trust in the power of many can shove them in the right direction in their quest find their true north.

3 Digital Trends to Watch Out For in 2018

Digital robot, Ai
The interconnected AI. The future trend will be towards AI assistants and augmented reality with big mobile phone manufacturers rivaling each other on service oriented apps. “The possibilities of innovation are endless” says Gemma Reeves our guest author. Her post is below. Artflow on Andriod was used to draw the sketch above and is open for interpretation.

Now that we are on the last stretch of 2017, tech enthusiasts and the market in general are expecting about what could be the next best thing that could take the digital world by storm this 2018.

So far, 2017 had its fair share of digital trends that can be more or less considered revolutionary. One of those is the surge of wearable gadgets that are used to track one’s health and overall fitness lifestyle. The most famous examples of these are FitBit and Apple’s SmartWatch.

The market also saw some improvements from Artificial Intelligent (AI) assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Google’s own AI assistant. Most notably, these AI assistants are not just limited on smartphones, but they can also be used in smart home devices such as wireless speakers.

So what could still be in store for the digital industry this 2018? The possibilities of innovation are endless, and the industry definitely has a lot more to offer by next year and the upcoming years or so, such as:

More uses for Augmented Reality (AR)

Pokemon GO took the world by storm when it was introduced in 2016. From then on, smartphone users were introduced to Augmented Reality (AR) on a wider and more entertaining scale, and developers see a lot of potential uses for this.

Aside from gaming, AR is expected to be used in navigation, marketing and information systems in the near future – possibly starting in 2018. Users can simply turn on their camera, point it to certain streets and find information as to what shops and offices are situated there.

Some stores have also started using AR to help customers choose products by giving them information and interactive sampling through screens. Aside from these, there are many more possibilities with AR that might be introduced in the next year or so.

An improved and more ‘intelligent’ AI assistant

Let’s face it, despite the developments done to Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, they still get many voice commands wrong. However, users won’t be suffering for long – industry leaders and developers are doing everything they can to significantly improve these AI assistants beginning next year. Google Assistant for one will get improvements for its voice command hearing ability, and it will also come equipped with a real-time language translator that can translate over 40 languages.

AI assistants are also expected to be found on other devices – not just smartphones, but also on several smart home devices. As previously mentioned, these are already used on wireless speakers, but enthusiasts expect to see AI assistants on other upcoming smart devices that can be useful at home.

More service-centric apps

The past few years saw a rise in apps that have made day to day living a lot easier and more comfortable for us. These includes service apps such as Uber, Grab and food delivery apps such as Food Panda. These kinds of apps were exactly the type of service that customers never knew they needed – and who knows what other apps will be introduced in the upcoming year.

Tech enthusiasts however expect that health and medical-related apps might be a thing by next year. The healthcare field was always one of those niches that was expected to use more apps and digital tools, but somehow, it keeps on lagging behind because of privacy issues and other limitations. However, with the surge of wearable fitness trackers like FitBit and Apple SmartWatch, it might be easier for developers to come up with new apps that can come up with reliable diagnosis and health readings for every user (using data gathered from their health trackers).

The market also has Apple’s iPhone X to look forward to in 2018. Whatever features this phone could introduce might also dictate what kind of digital trend will the market see next year. The phone is already available this month – but in limited supply only. It is not until next year when it will be made widely available.

Aside from that, a new Samsung phone model is also expected to come out to rival whatever the iPhone X has got to offer. If the Samsung brand can pull off a revolutionary design and specs for its new smartphone model, it might also stir up some new digital trends by 2018 and beyond.

Gemma Reeves is a seasoned writer who enjoys creating helpful articles and interesting stories. Check out her company here: FindMyWorkspace

 

 

 

The Bitcoin is a social money network and is as scarce as gold

bitcoin
The value of Bitcoin has gone up from zero to 120 billion USD in 9 years since its inception in 2008. Nobody knows who created the ‘Bitcoin’. The creator has handed over and disappeared since then and goes with the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto”. As part of its creation, the world’s first ‘Block Chain’ database was devised. Image credit: Pixabay

Podcast special feature

“Bitcoin is a social movement” says The New York Times technology reporter, Nathaniel Popper, and author of a book on Bitcoin called ‘Digital gold’.

In the podcast radio talk, heard on ‘Fresh air’- NPR, Terry Cross talks to Nathaniel on how Bitcoin has emerged from an underground currency to a system where major financial institutions and banks are looking at using its decentralized network. Thanks to NPR org.

Please find the essence of the talk below. For those of us who do not understand what Bitcoin is, the below essence of the podcast can be helpful.

Bitcoin can be understood on a number of layers, says Nathaniel. From its initial journey, where in participants were able to buy drugs, do black-marketing, shrouded in privacy and secrecy to its current recognition as the world’s decentralized cryptographic digital payment, Bitcoin has come a long way.

It is pointing to a direction where money is going; or needs to be.

Its origins can be traced back to the late 2008. Scientists, worried about the then internet privacy and the distrustful central financial institutions, created an anonymous digital currency for the public good.

Bitcoin is a digital token. It consists of a vast network of decentralized computers and it lives inside it. People can use this digital token to buy, sell, and transact on the internet with a network of widely accepted places, just like any other currency.

It is a legally accepted digital currency in almost all the countries, except for a few. It is an independent entity and anyone can freely transact and support Bitcoin.

There is no central administrator and as such, the network gives incentives to people to join it. People can volunteer to keep financial records and earn some Bitcoins. The transactions are transparent. A new block of Bitcoins are released every 10 minutes into the network and there are somewhere around 13,000 interconnected nodes to support it.

“A year ago, a Bitcoin was worth less than $1000″ says Nathaniel and now it could be much more. He says “it is not a bubble” and there is much speculation that its value will be much more in the future.

Just like gold, Bitcoin is created as a scarce asset, only about 21 million of Bitcoin can be released, and it is going to be only until 2140.

Cheers.