Thinking about taking your content up a level? Want to add more visuals but not sure where to start?
In this post I share some simple ways to level-up your visual content, no matter what level you are currently at.
One of the biggest reason marketers don't try new things with visual content is that there are so many options available that even starting seems impossible.
To help break it down, I created a “visual hierarchy” to help you get started at the level most suited to you (and there's an awesome Visual Content Booster to download if you scroll on down!). Here's the Hierarchy:
A Simple Visual Hierarchy
The key with this hierarchy is to find your entry point. There are 3 levels at which to jump in:
You see, not everyone is ready to jump straight into creating infographics and slide-decks. Maybe you are just starting with visual content. Maybe creating shareable images is where you need to start.
Whether you are a one-person marketing team or a crew of many (with a designer in your midst), the 3 levels of visual hierarchy will help you to find your jumping off point.
Let's take a closer look at each with some tips for how to get started at each level:
These are your easy to create, easy to share visuals – often found on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. It's the type of content that fans like to post, including:
These are the types of images that are typically seen out on social platforms. They may be seen on your website but they don't have to be embedded on a blog post.
Typically, Shareables will range from photos (behind-the-scenes, funny or educational images) to quotes and tips. Anything that is a single, quick-to-process image. These images are also sized according to the platform they are on, as certain image sizes suit certain platforms.
So how do you start levelling-up your visual content if you are not creating any at all yet?
In this first stage it's about adding some original images to your content on your platform of choice. Even one original image a day (mixed in with curated content) can help to get sharing and engagement going for your business.
Let's jump in and take a look:
1 Take Us Behind the Scenes
Fans love to feel that you are peeling back the curtain and showing the behind-the-scenes in your business. It's that fly-on-the-wall factor. We like to feel that we are getting exclusive sneak-peeks or tours.
Constant Contact do this really well. I feel that I know enough about their team and the culture in their company (Fun Fact: they pretty much top the list of the companies I would love to work for if I wanted to work for a company again).
I mean, who doesn't wish they could discuss strategy over office skeeball?
Constant Contact include so many images of their “company life” behind the scenes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that they literally have a hashtag on it. If you search on #CTCTLife you can see many more images like this one!
How can you show behind the scenes in your business? Share images of events, your office set up, things you are working on, sneak peeks, reveals… what's working (what's not!). Get creative!
2. Create a “Series” Template
If you are not quite ready to start creating images from scratch, one way to jump in, is to work with a designer to create a series template. Here's one I had created:
Then all you have to do is add the text overlay using a image tool like Canva or Picmonkey and voila… you have an entire series of images. Here's one I created using the template above:
You can do this with tips, funny captions, quotes… the options are endless. Just start with one “series” of images and go from there!
3. Post something Nostalgic
You've probably heard the term “Throwback Thursday” or #TBT. We LOVE to talk about our past, “back in the day” and our best childhood memories.
It's not just Thursdays that blow up the newsfeed on every platform though…it happens on every day of the week.
Time and time again I see “nostalgia” posts getting great responses. Here are a couple of examples:
Intel know how to get fans buzzing – they just have to mention that their processors were used in the original Space Invaders:
Kim Garst just has to mention our childhood and we want to share.. not just the image but our memories and aspirations at age 5!
Even sharing an image from another fan page on Facebook will get loads of likes, shares and comments – ask us to reminisce and we'll do it!
Nostalgia images work best when they:
(a) elicit emotion and ask us to tap into our positive memories when younger
(b) ask us to give our opinion/memory/recollection (that's where we really start to engage and share!)
Hot Tip: Batch your images! Don't just create one – create 10-20 in a batch so you are sorted for at least one original image on one platform per day for a couple of weeks. There's nothing better than having your posts ready and trust me it doesn't take much longer to do 10 images than it does to make 1 – once you have the tools out, get productive!
This is where we start to get a little more serious about our visual content. You may be investing more time (and maybe more resources) into creating a “step-by-step” image but it's worth the investment of time.
Step-by-Steps still get lots of engagement like Shareables, but we are starting to look more closely at the idea of driving traffic and calls to action with visuals that are more likely to get shared, pinned and have longevity on the visual web.
These are the types of image you SHOULD embed into blog posts and have on your website.
- snackable infographics
Here are some “jumping in” ideas for Step-by-Steps. To get started think about this:
What procedure, system or task do you know how to do that your audience wants to know (or needs to know) that you can break down into steps and teach them?
There'll be something that springs to mind, trust me!
Step-by-steps can be created with images or even short videos. Photographs can be a great way to put together a “step-by-step” image as they are easy to take, visual and show how to do something!
4. This VS That
Create a comparison “versus” image about how to use two products/things/tools – to compare what you need, when and why.
Andrea Vahl (aka Grandma Mary, Edutainer) has done a great job doing this with one of her latest “snackable” infographics, where she show you exactly when you would choose to use the Ads Manager vs the Power Editor to create Facebook ads. How useful is this?
SUPER useful. What's great about SUPER useful? People won't just pin it, they will USE it!
I'll be using this. And who will I remember when it comes to Facebook Ads? Andrea, um, sorry, Grandma Mary (but we all know Andrea feeds her all the right things to say hehe).
5. Create a Quick Reference Image
Pauline Carbrera from Twelveskip is a master at creating visuals that provide handy references for a particular task or project. She has created “reference checklists” for all sorts of things like essential elements of a blog.
In the following reference image, Pauline has listed 74 fabulous “Attention-Grabbing Blog Post Title Templates” – this is not just a pretty image to pin to Pinterest. This is an image that people can really use… day in and day out!
That's what makes it powerful – and what makes Pauline and her blog memorable. She continually helps her target audience! Here is the image.
And here is the complete post to check out later. When you create great images like this that are embedded in an even better piece of content (like Pauline's blog post) you not only get sharing from her blog to Pinterest but also re-blogs like this one at HubSpot and the one you are reading, right here!
6. Help us with a How-To Visual
This can be an image (or series of images in a short infographic) or a single image showing how to do something. Or it can (jumping slightly ahead) be a short video that shows how to do something succinctly and quickly.
Take the following example, in which Simple Green Smoothies have made a useful short video (less than 15 seconds for Instagram) to show how to clean your blender. Maybe this is not useful to everyone, but to their target audience, smoothie drinkers… this is super important. Check it out:
Hot Tip: We love to cheat! The key to a great step-by-step is very simple – help us to cheat! We love the cheat sheet, the easy option, the quick fix… we don't want to have to search the internet for the answers – even though they are probably there. Find something you can wrap up into an image and share it as a checklist, or how-to image. Your audience will love it!
Here is where the rubber hits the road.
Showpieces are the next level of visual asset – if you have already created some shareables and step-by-steps, this will be your next step (and of course you can do these at any point in your marketing… but usually businesses will ramp up to them).
Showpieces can include infographics, slide decks and short video. Yes, they take a little longer. Yes, they may take some investment of time and resources. But do they bring results? That's a heck, yes.
7. Turn your Presentation into a SlideShare
Take a presentation you have done and “Slideshare it”. The key here is to not just take the slides and throw them up on to SlideShare. Look at it with fresh eyes. What slides and linking content do you need to add to make it “slideshare worthy” in that the viewer does not need (you) the presenter to make sense of the slides.
Try adding a few linking slides, intro and finishing slides, a call to action and then upload it to SlideShare.
Need some inspiration?
- Check out this guide to creating a great SlideShare.
- If you find the entire presentation too daunting, just do one section – can you pull out one key message and create a short slide deck – even 5-10 slides can share a message.
- Add a call to action on the last slide with a hyperlink to your blog, a landing page or wherever you want to send people.
Don't have any presentations?
No problem. Take a blog post that has a number of key points in it and turn that into a SlideShare presentation.
- Start simple by using a template from Canva – use their basic design and change out some fonts, text or images.
- Share just one point or feature on each page.
Here's my blog post. And here's the Slides:
8. Create a Helpful Infographic
Take a blog post that you have written and turn it into an infographic – either with stats, tips or information that conveys the key points of your post. I know this may sound a little daunting, so I have done this myself with this very blog post.
Here's the infographic I designed in 30 minutes (45 to fix up a few errors and have it ready to upload). Scroll down to find out what I used:
How did I create this infographic so quickly? With Canva infographic templates!
Their templates for infographics are new and you will love them. From illustration-based infographics with icons and bright colours to photographic image based ones like the one above, you can create anything you like with a little custom-work.
…or what about this template… think about how you can modify this to create a step-by-step or how-to infographic?
Can you see how the Pumpkin Pie template can be changed to be used for any topic! Have fun with it!
9 Take us on a tour
This might sound daunting but there is sooooooo much you can do with short video. Take us on a tour – it can be a tour around the office or a “tour” of a new project you are working on or a new product or piece of equipment and how to use it.
It can be a quick video, or you can grab the Hyperlapse App and take some longer footage and then speed it up. Like this tour around the Vogue offices:
Why not try it around your office/homeoffice or when you are out on location/doing something interesting that would appeal to your community. Ok, so it may not be Vogue… it might actually be even more interesting!
Your fans will love to feel that they are seeing a different part of your business!
Try this type of visual content for:
- unboxing a new product
- showing how to do something
- taking us on a tour of your office/building/project
- or taking us on a tour behind the scenes (again, fans love to feel that you are inviting them to take a peek behind the curtain of your business).
Over to You!
After reading this post, where is the “jumping in” point for you – Level 1, 2 or 3, and what will you create? I would love to hear if this has sparked some ideas for you in the comments below!
… oh and if you feel like pinning this for later.. here's the Pinterest-friendly image.. and as you are still here, I have tip for you below it, all the way down here at the very very very bottom of the post. Anyone who gets this far deserves an extra tip down you think… scroll on down.
Ok so here's your tip. If you want to take your “Shareables” to the next level create a pinterest sized image like this one ^^^. If you have one pinterest-sized image on ever blog post and important page on your website, your chances of getting that content pinned increases – as portrait sized images are the most pinned and shared of all the image sizes.
Do what I do… add an extra image – a portrait sized image – it will be worth it when you see the increase in content shared from Pinterest.
And now… for real… that's a wrap!