Visual marketing isn’t just about how to create visuals or how to promote them. It’s the core of all the visual content you put out there on behalf of the brand you want to promote. It’s also something that, sadly, not enough marketers understand. For me, visual marketing is all the visual content we see on the internet that has a purpose.
Of course, a visual, let’s say, a photo, that is uploaded from a specific person clearly has a different purpose than a visual that is uploaded on behalf of a brand. The former may want to connect with a few friends or share a special moment with his family. But a photo uploaded from a brand has a business purpose and approach. The marketer behind the brand is uploading the visual to get something from their brand’s community.
What is visual marketing?
Visual marketing is the process of telling a brand’s story and engaging consumers using pictures, videos, GIFs, and other visual elements.
Why marketers should use visual marketing strategy?
Visual marketing helps to build a bridge between a customer and the brand and to create a more personal connection with them. But honestly, the ultimate reason is to drive sales and boost a customer’s lifetime value.
Visual marketing is not only about branding, or uploading photos/videos, it’s about how to make your brand stand out in the crowd and be noticed. So, I put together a list of 10 checkpoints every marketer should go through when creating a visual marketing strategy. In this article we’ll discuss the first three and perhaps the most important of all the checkpoints.
1. Understand each social media platform’s anatomy.
Every social media platfrom has a different anatomy, with a different interface and different audience. The audience from Facebook is very different than the audience on Quora or Snapchat. The guys from MOZ wrote a chapter where they categorize social media platforms in 3 ways:
- Owned properties: Think blogs, forums or homegrown social platforms. It’s something that your brand started and is 100% under your control.
- Rented properties: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, and even Medium. (Even if you have a verified brand page, it doesn’t mean that it belongs to you).
- Occupied properties: Reddit, Quora or Imgur. (This one is the furthest from your control, but you still can have an official advocate who engages with the community).
Each and every one of these social platforms has a different anatomy and is used by different people on different devices. For example, Instagram and Snapchat are more for mobile usage, but Facebook and Linkedin are more frequently used on desktops or tablets.
So why do you need to understand how every social platform works? Because every one of these platforms has a different size format for visual content. For example, Pinterest is concentrated on vertical visuals. That means that when you create a visual that is dedicated for Pinterest you will want to design vertical content. When you create a visual for Facebook you can check out what size they recommend that you use. Currently the best size that fits the Facebook community is 1200 x 900 pixels (height x width).
Every social platform has a specific type of content that has the best traction. Some platforms, like Facebook give a lot of freedom when it comes to content (image posts, video, text, instant articles). Others, like Snapchat focuses more on vertical content. In fact, Snapchat is a big believer in vertical video content. Why? Because for mobile users, it’s easier to consume content on their cellphones when it’s vertical.
The major takeaway here, is that every social media platform has a different anatomy and a different type of content format that will work best on that platform.
2. Have a clear purpose.
Let me ask you this question: What’s the main reason you upload a visual on Twitter and post a status with a link? Do you want people to connect with you and reply to you? Do you want to achieve more Twitter followers? Do you want more favorites on that tweet? Do you want them to click on that link?
Do you see how many purposes a simple tweet with a visual can have? This is exactly what you need to think about when you create your visual marketing strategy. What do you want from your community?
In fact, you might have noticed that on Facebook or Twitter, content (status, video, photo) that doesn’t have a link, has a larger reach when compared to a post containing a link. What does that mean? That these social platforms don’t want their users to go out of their platform, even if, we as marketers, are using them like a hook to get the users to our website or blog post.
I believe that every piece of content we put out there as marketers should have a clear purpose, otherwise we have no way to measure their success.
3. Stay close to your brand.
Imagine your brand as a person. A person that has his or her own personality, looks and values. When that person goes out in the world, people adjust and get used to his or her ‘customizations’ and can identify the person anywhere else in any other context. That’s exactly what you should strive to achieve with your brand. Staying close to your brand’s values and identity through visuals helps people get used to it and identify it on the crowded place we call the internet.
Brand authenticity is one of the most important things to consumers today, especially youngsters who perceive brands as part of their day to day lives and want to engage with them just like they do with their friends. When it comes to visual marketing and brand identity, there’s one thing that is considered the marketer’s Bible: The Brand Identity Design Guidelines. This document is what holds together every single detail about a brand’s image, offline and online, and is what will help you create your visuals. Make sure you follow the right colors, fonts, design principles of your brand, so that people know with whom to associate visuals when they see them.
A brand that stays true to its guidelines and values is McDonald’s Singapore. Their image is a playful and friendly one, perfect for their target audience: youngsters that enjoy their food. McDonald’s Singapore is using pictures of their products combined with awesome colorful designs and drawings that show the personality the brand has. These designs can be found on all their Social-Media platforms (and their site for that matter), and that helps people easily identify them on their feeds.
Now that you know the three most important checkpoints for visual marketing on social media, start thinking about them and see in which ways you can benefit from them for your brand. In the second part of this article (coming next week), we’ll talk about the following 7 checkpoints you should be aware of. Things like how and why you should use high quality content or how to know when to give up on a strategy and start from scratch again!