How to Use Visual Storytelling to Brighten Up Your Content

Kate WilliamsSocial Media Marketing

How to try visual storytelling on social media

As any good digital marketer will know, visual content is essential. Why? Because 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual, showing just how powerful an image can be.

Plus, articles enhanced by images can garner 94 percent more clicks!

In addition to looking great on a digital page, visuals can help to maintain brand consistency, simplify information, boost your click rate, and help hold the attention of your audience.
But there’s more to visual storytelling in content marketing than just statistics and aesthetics. It’s your chance, as a digital marketer, to tell your audience what your business can do – and how.

After all, doesn’t a picture say a thousand words?

What is visual storytelling, and why use it?

You may be wondering what encompasses the ‘storytelling’ aspect as opposed to simply featuring a splash of visual content.

Storytelling is the creation of a narrative through your photos, videos or illustrations that can depict a story.
Perhaps it’s the story of how your brand came to be, or how your product has proven to be a solution to a problem. Or perhaps you’re just letting your long time followers know what’s been happening at your business HQ.

sensory storytelling quote

An example is Google’s blog post from August 2016, giving readers an insight into the Sheep View project in the Faroe Islands. The post set out to describe how Google had provided the islands with street view cameras, in order to help document the country (and it’s 70,000 sheep) for Google Street View.

Whilst the blog post itself was informative, what stood out was the visual content. Readers are treated to high quality images of the sheep and their surroundings, as well as a short video documentary. Through these alone, we can get an idea of what things are like in the Faroe Islands, why the locals wanted to document their country, and how Google has helped to document it through the loan of the cameras. To sum up, the story had a beginning (the idea), the journey (the documentation) and an end (Sheep View became a reality)!

Google gradually shared the story on social media, releasing the awesome Faroe Islands news in several tweets during the course of a single day.

Don’t just create the story, but instead schedule time to innovate the way you’ll share it.

As for why you should consider visual storytelling as part of your digital campaign, consider the fact that from a business perspective, the ‘moral’ or ending of the story is essentially your conversion point—and your story translates to the buyers’ journey.

Appealing to the senses

Creating a visual story that appeals to the reader’s senses is essentially an ‘upgraded’ way to interact with them on a more personal level.

Sensory visual storytelling can evoke a certain feeling within the mind and body—whether you’re looking to create a sense of warmth, nostalgia, creativity, or just about anything!

With most of us spending arguably too much time online these days, it’s natural to want to discover something users can ‘feel’ through the screen.

But how exactly does one appeal to those senses through digital media?

Your choice of imagery is key. You want your photo to stand out in a way that makes the reader want to reach out and touch. Or, it may be an image that’s truly immersive, making them feel as if they’re right there amongst the scenery.

This can often be achieved by using zoom, varied textures, and recognizable colors with connotations linked to your intended feeling or emotion.

To take things a step further (for example, taste or smell), imagine a close up of your favorite food. Ask yourself:

  • Can you feel how warm or cold it is?
  • Can you smell it? What does it smell like?
  • Does it look good enough to take a bite out of right now?

Chances are, your mouth is already watering and you’re starting to feel hungry. So that image in your head? That’s the type of image you need to be showing your audience.

When sensory storytelling is done well, your audience will be able to see, hear, smell, and feel what you’re showing them, deepening their interest and attachment to what you’re offering.

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Keeping it real

When telling a story, another thing you’ll need to consider is the authenticity of your content. Have you ever listened to someone telling a story, knowing in your mind that their tale is completely fabricated? Unauthentic content is just like that. It’s no fun to listen to, and no one really cares what the storyteller has to say.

As Pam Grossman (Director of Visual Trends at Getty Images) says, “The viewer’s eye has become a lot more sophisticated.” Today’s digital audiences live and breathe content, so they’ve become attuned to what’s out there. They can spot false claims a mile off and will simply click away from imaginary anecdotes.

Instead, focus on creating something that’s true to life and relatable. If your audience can connect with your content on a personal level, they’ll be far more likely to take a genuine interest and reach the point of conversion.

Getting started with visual storytelling

If you’re really looking to tell a story through your content, taking your own photos that represent your journey is an ideal place to start.

Alternatively, you can still reap the benefits of visual content by curating stock images for your content—as long as they effectively capture the message you’re trying to get across.

Whether you choose to go with photography, video, graphics or an alternative visual medium, you (and your business) are bound to benefit from the stronger connections you make with your audience thanks to sensory visual storytelling.

About the Author

Kate Williams

Kate is a professional copywriter and digital marketer with a penchant for social media that dates back to MySpace.