Build a Brand by Delivering Content in Different Forms
The explosive growth of Pinterest and Buzzfeed is proof that visual content is here to stay. The use of visual content is a win-win situation for both audiences and brands.
Audiences get high quality, easy to consume content, while brands get audience attention at relatively lower costs and the obvious benefit of associating themselves with favorable imagery. A picture, after all, does say a thousand words.
Take a look below at five ways brands can use visual media to win on social media:
1. Use reaction GIFs generously
In September 2013, the GOP released an article criticizing the government’s inaction on the Keystone XL pipeline project. That itself was nothing unusual; attack articles are the bread and butter of politics. But within minutes of this particular article hitting the press, the entire internet was talking about it. Why?
Because of reaction GIFs, which are essentially video snippets in the .GIF image format. So, instead of releasing huge walls of text, the GOP chose to write an article peppered with reaction GIFs. While this may have been an attempt on the GOP’s part to appeal to millennials, the message was clear: reaction GIFs are here to stay.
From Vine to BuzzFeed, every successful social media brand is using reaction GIFs in one form or the other. Often, they’re used to mirror the author or the reader’s reaction to the story. When then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about approval of the pipeline and she said, ‘We are inclined to do so’—cue GIF of Jimmy Fallon dancing.
When used properly, reaction GIFs not only help break the content, but add a dash of humor to otherwise serious articles. They’re great for viral traffic as well, something to which the GOP can testify.
2. Leverage infographics for backlinks
Despite their ubiquity online, infographics still remain as a powerful method to get backlinks and grow an audience. However, the bar is now much higher today than it was four years ago.
Slapping together a few facts with some fancy graphics doesn’t cut it anymore. For brands to find an audience with infographics, they must be willing to go the distance – stunning visuals, in-depth research, and unusual facts targeted at specific verticals.
3. Use memes to align yourself with the digitally hip
If the internet has a language, it is memes. These text-on-image pictures are everywhere online, from message boards and social networks to small blogs and large publishers. Like reaction GIFs, memes work as shorthand, allowing authors to express an opinion or feeling with as few words as possible.
Memes can be a powerful source of traffic, provided brands leverage them properly. This means you should be hanging around community forums such as Reddit, 4Chan and Imgur (where most memes originate) in order to understand the true pulse of every meme.
Once you know what works and what doesn’t (internet trends can be disappear quickly), you can incorporate them the same way you would use reaction GIFs in your content.
4. Nurture a Pinterest following
Pinterest is one of the world’s most heavily trafficked sites. The image board has millions of users and attracts hundreds of millions of new submissions, or ‘pins’, each month. Creating image collections on Pinterest that align with your brand identity can be a powerful source of traffic and brand recognition.
It is important to note that Pinterest users aren’t very forgiving of Pinboards (user pages) with overt commercial interests and branding. So, instead you should try to nurture a following that is more organic, which means discarding brand specific imagery in favor of those that evokes the overall brand ideals.
Retailer L.L. Bean, for instance, has several separate pinboards with images complementary to the brand. The focus of the board is not on the brand itself or its products; rather, the strategy revolves around curating images that reflect the brand identity.
This has worked remarkably well for the company; it boasts a whopping 5.5M followers—proof enough that Pinterest marketing can work.
5. Image-only blog posts
With the web becoming increasingly visual, more and more publishers are ditching the written—or typed—word altogether. Today, there are blogs that are centered primarily around incorporating image-based content instead of long form written content. A great example of this strategy is BuzzFeed, which writes tutorials or lists that utilize images with text on them.
Another example of visual content implementation is on image boards such as Imgur, where imagers are routinely used to showcase everything from clever lifehacks to lists of movies to watch. Although there are few publishers/brands putting out similar content today, the sheer amount of traffic that these posts receive on Imgur and Reddit indicates the potential for such content.