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The power of visual storytelling

Posted by Chad O'Connor  March 8, 2014 01:30 AM

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Why Marketers Need to Embrace Visual Storytelling
We've all heard marketers proclaim that, "content is king," but the rise in popularity of visual social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, SlideShare and Vine, have ushered in an era where visual storytelling is poised to be a breakout marketing trend for 2014.

Consider the following data pulled by Buzzfeed. In just one minute, 208,300 photos are posted to Facebook, 510,000 photos are liked on Instagram, and 100 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube. Combine the sheer volume of visuals shared with the engagement rates surrounding them and youíve crafted a pretty compelling business case:

  • Posts with an album or photo drive up to 180% more engagement than those without.

  • Viewers spend 100% more time on web pages with videos.

  • Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video.

The Rise of Visual Storytelling
In the book I co-authored called The Power of Visual Storytelling, we talk about the fact that while impressive, visual storytelling is not an overnight sensation, but the result of the science behind how we absorb information, the rise of mobile usage and continued innovation in the field of social media. The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text and 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. Which, with 71 percent of users now accessing social media from a mobile device, the rise in smartphones, combined with mobile only channels like Instagram and Vine, itís never been easier to capture and share photos and videos quickly.

This is why Facebook's News Feed, acquisition of Instagram and new mobile app Paper, have transformed the platform over the years into a never-ending visual magazine. Videos on YouTube are so popular that the site is now ranked the number two search engine after Google. Pinterest has redefined how we organize content visually and Vine has inspired just how much we can communicate creatively through stop-motion video in six seconds.

Engagement In The Era of Infobesity
While it's tempting to just take this information and simply add more photos to your social media content calendar, the sheer volume of visuals and content shared creates a challenge and opportunity for marketers. In the book we dub this age, "the age of infobesity." Consumers are faced with more messages than ever, so for marketers to break through the clutter, they need to focus their social media strategy around curating impactful visual stories.

Visual storytelling is defined as the use of images, videos, infographics, presentations and other visuals on social media platforms to craft a graphical story around key brand values and offerings. Visual storytelling across social media platforms is strategic because it helps companies to focus their efforts around visuals that will break through filtering algorithms and consumers news streams. The ultimate goal of visual storytelling is curate content in a way that captures companyís goals, vision and voice while driving the desired action from the end consumer.

Examples of How Local Companies and Sports Teams Are Embracing Visual Storytelling
Look no further to these local examples from the New England Patriots and The Fashion Truck to see how visual storytelling is amplifying consumer engagement across social media channels.

The New England Patriots are fantastic at leveraging visual storytelling to keep the team and its passionate fans top of mind throughout the year. During last year's mega snowstorm, Nemo, the Patriots cleverly capitalized on the pre-storm snow buzz by curating a Facebook photo album with the teamís top images from playing in the snow. After the storm, the team developed a second Facebook album of snowmen wearing Patriots jerseys and hats from photos fans sent in. Both were great examples real-time visual storytelling that provided unique opportunities for engagement with the team. Reliving great memories in the snow brings up positive memories, while highlighting snowmen in Patriots apparel is a fantastic way to celebrate fans of the team. It's also a nice, yet subtle reminder of some of the great merchandise they sell.

Another great example is a small business, The Fashion Truck, which has a retail store in Westford and a traveling "mobile boutique" truck that visits different events around the Metro Boston area. In order to encourage customers to visit the store, or alert them to meet the truck at a given location, the company leverages visual storytelling across its Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr accounts. While each channel has its own flair, the truckís Instagram presence truly brings to life the visual story of a small but thriving business by sharing photos of current offerings, customers who support them, community involvement and behind-the-scenes scoop from its owners.

The Power of Visual Storytelling
To master visual storytelling, you need a powerful plan, starting with strategy and business objectives, followed with selecting the right social media platforms and visuals to bring them to life. For detailed information and examples on how to do this the book, The Power of Visual Storytelling offers a step-by-step roadmap and inspirational case studies from B2B and B2C companies, both large and small.

Jessica Gioglio is the Social Media Manager for Dunkiní Donuts and co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling. Follow Jessica on Twitter and on her blog.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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