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Humanize Your Brand Through Visual Storytelling

Visual storytelling isn’t anything new in the content marketing world. But, this year we’re expecting to see even more video, infographics, and SlideShares. We will watch and listen to our content more than ever in 2015.

So, what is visual storytelling? If you’re a fan of Pinterest or Instagram, YouTube or Vine, you’ve already been exposed to visual storytelling in the social media context. But, for thousands of years, people have used drawings, paintings, and later photography, films and videos to tell stories. According to Jason Cormier, Co-Founder of Room 214 “If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the story behind it is worth a million more.”

Consider the historic photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima – possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time. Did you know this was not the first photo taken of a flag raising on Mount Suribachi? The first flag was deemed too small. Did you know photographer, Joe Rosenthal, set his camera down on the ground so he could pile up rocks to stand on and get a better vantage point? He nearly missed the shot!1 When we learn about all of the events that lead up to and what happened after that one moment in time, the photo becomes more than a symbol of bravery because it feels more real.

Savvy marketers understand that using visual storytelling techniques increase viewership, boost engagement, and result in more shares.2 If you’re like us, you don’t have the budget to have a professional photographer or videographer on staff. So, how can a small business marketer start using visual storytelling to his or her advantage? Here are a couple of ideas to get you started on two of the most widely used platforms.

Twitter 

In a sea of 140-character text, it can be difficult for businesses to stand out on Twitter. Enter Twitter Cards. Introduced over a year ago, Twitter Cards are a way for you to enhance tweets with images, videos and product info by adding a few lines of code to your website. (Don’t worry. You don’t need to be a web developer to utilize Twitter Cards.3) Users who tweet links to your website content or retweet something you’ve posted will have a card attached to their posts. So, when people scroll through their Twitter feeds, your card will stand out from the basic text tweets.

There are seven different cards to choose from. For example, the Summary Card is perfect for blog posts and news articles because it gives readers a preview of your content. With the Player Card, you can share audio and video clips. Even better, Twitter just introduced a video capture feature on iOS and Android. It lets you shoot and edit videos inside the Twitter app and the videos can be up to 30 seconds long!4

Pinterest

The whole point of Pinterest (pun intended) is to engage users with visuals. I’ve been surprised at the number of clients I interact with who don’t see the power of Pinterest. The most popular pins are those related to food, fashion, family and home decorating. But, you don’t need to be in any of those industries to build an amazing Pinterest following.

Let’s consider Family as a Pinterest board. I’ve spoken with many small businesses who consider their employees a family. We do too. Every business has a story behind how that family started and how it became who it is today. Create a board about your history. Pin old photos of the company founders, holiday parties and your first office building. Even old documents or newspaper headlines that give context to the time that business was founded would be a great start. This kind of board humanizes your brand. Like the story behind the flag raising at Iwo Jima, your brand can become more than a symbol of your company’s promise. It becomes more real. Ben and Jerry’s has done a great job of humanizing their brand on Pinterest with boards like “The People Behind the Pints” and “History.”5

I think we all understand how embracing social media can benefit businesses of all types and sizes. Just remember that they key to social media success is in the name itself – social. Your audiences are filled with real people and every one of them is a potential colleague, employee, and customer. Build your community of fans and followers by humanizing your brand through visual storytelling.

References

1. Flags of Our Fathers, by James Bradley

2. Visual Storytelling: The Key Weapon to Content Marketing

3. Twitter Cards 

4. Twitter launches group DMs, plus video capture and sharing

5. Ben & Jerry's Pinterest