“People don’t buy products, but rather the stories these products represent. (From Storytelling: The Story Making Machine and Formatting Minds)
Every good social media marketer will recognise the importance of using visual content in social storytelling. In fact, when it comes to social media in particular, image-based content can have far more power over your audience than plain text.
While well-written textual content will always be very important, the inclusion of visual stories can take your social marketing efforts to the next level.
Most of us use social media for short snippets of meaningful information. Visual stories that are authentic, compelling, and convey your message in a humanised way will drive a deeper level of engagement.
They key to this is evocation of emotion in the audience – joy, laughter, desire, love, sadness – for an intrinsic connection with your brand.
Consumers are ever more in control of what they see on social media, and they are completely in control of what they share. Brands must work hard to earn and retain their audience’s attention. Pushing messages and talking at consumers no longer works as an effective advertising tool as it did decades ago; instead, you need to offer high quality content and captivating stories to pull consumers in and make them yours.
What is social storytelling?
The vast majority of consumers have no interest at all in marketing. Blatant marketing will even put a lot of people off a brand. What consumers and social audiences are interested in is storytelling.
Consumers care about a brand’s message, its promise, how it makes them feel, and how it enhances their life. Social storytelling imparts these messages.
Telling believable, authentic, and relatable stories is the key to successful marketing and advertising. Stories must captivate the target audience and trigger an emotional response.
The successful stories will resonate with the audience in such a way that not only will the story be memorable, but the brand will be deeply associated with that memory in the minds of consumers.
Social media is the ideal platform for storytelling: brand narration and induction of conversation, as well as sharing for lead generation, is the key to why social storytelling is so effective.
So what is social storytelling? It is both an art and a science: that of shaping and giving meaning to information that would otherwise be uninteresting.
It allows a brand to speak directly to consumers, combining their marketing idea with emotion, and captivating their audience to persuade positive consumer action.
Why does social storytelling work so well?
- The structure of storytelling is that of “cause and effect”: it sparks the part of the brain used to compose speech, thoughts, and certain decision-making practices.
- Emotions triggered by storytelling eliminate scepticism of advertising.
- By connecting ideas with emotions and feelings, concepts shared in a story become retained and linked to the brand.
- Stories are the way humans make sense of the world around them.
The best stories offer simplicity, authenticity, universality, and a distinct emotional response…
Why is visual storytelling so important?
Sixty-five percent of people are primarily visual learners. This means they retain and understand the world better when they see, rather than hearing, reading, or doing.
Researchers have found that when people hear information they remember only 10 per cent of it three days later; when a relevant image is shown with the same information, 65 per cent of the message is retained.
In the majority of cases, humans are visual more than verbal, and more people make decisions based on feeling than on thought.
Visual storytelling gives shape and meaning to a brand message that may otherwise be somewhat bland. Visuals must play an intrinsic part of marketing campaigns.
Offering effective visual content is a major key to social media marketing success.
Visual content drives the success of some of the most popular social media platforms that businesses use for online marketing purposes, including Facebook and Instagram.
According to a poll of senior marketers in 2015 (by the CMO Council and Libris) asking how important visual assets are to a marketing strategy:
- 93 per cent perceive photography as important or even critical
- 88 per cent perceive video as important
- 69 per cent believe illustrations (infographics, etc) have an important place
Other interesting statistics relating directly to visual storytelling for marketing purposes include:
- Facebook users watch eight billion videos each day.
- Snapchat users watch ten billion videos each day.
- YouTube reaches more adults during prime time viewing hours than any Pay TV or cable network.
- B2C Marketers place a higher value on visual content than do B2B marketers, yet more than fifty percent of B2B marketers now prioritise creation of visual content.
- Video marketing now represents almost three quarters of all internet traffic.
- Four times as many consumers prefer to watch a marketing video than read marketing copy.
- More than fifty percent of online videos are now played on a mobile device.
- Eighty-five percent of adults now consume content on multiple devices concurrently.
- Infographics are shared on social media more than any other type of content.
- Articles with images inserted into the text will result in double the number of social media shares than text-alone articles.
- Image-based Facebook posts receive highest engagement.
- Interestingly, eighty-five percent of videos watched on Facebook are viewed without sound.
(Source: HubSpot Blog)
Marketing without using visuals is marketing to fail. Even text-based social platform Twitter notes that tweets with an image attached perform better by at least three times than text-alone tweets.
8 tips for visual social storytelling
- Social storytelling must be compliant with your brand identity. Use persuasive imagery to speak to your target audience at a deeper level and to connect with a wider audience than you can with descriptive text content alone. Don’t just tell – show how why your brand is best and why your audience needs it in their life.
- Include photos of your products, team, location, and events.
- Ask customers and social media fans and followers to share photos of how they use or include your product or brand in their life.
- Use relevant, high quality images in your blog posts – ideally one every one to two hundred words or so.
- Offer inspirational or motivational quotes.
- Provide funny memes.
- Create image-based posts with tips, checklists, and how-to’s that are relevant to your brand in some way.
- Use images to promote your product, your workplace culture, your brand and business, your events, and your fans.
Visual content for storytelling really can be a powerful secret weapon for social media marketing for your brand.
The platforms themselves, including Facebook and Twitter, now place more emphasis on visuals in newsfeeds, and solely text-based posts won’t likely reach your audience.
With such an overwhelming amount of content on social media and the internet at large, images are easy for users to digest and respond to. Begin to incorporate images into your social media marketing strategy for better social storytelling today.
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