This guest post is by Magdalena Georgieva of Hubspot.
The September 2011 introduction of Facebook’s Timeline proved prophetic. “It’s a lot more visual,” wrote Sam Lessin, a product manager at Facebook, about the new look of the social network.
Visual, as it turns out, is also the direction in which the world of online marketing has headed.
The rise of visual storytelling as a means of spreading a marketing message couldn’t possibly have evaded you. A number of image-based platforms out there, including Pinterest, Instagram, and SlideShare, have already made a strong statement about how visual content can impact business results.
Images, presentations, and infographics are getting shared with ease, attracting thousands of views and sending tons of traffic to their original sources. Then, marketers assume the responsibility of qualifying the new visits and converting them into leads.
What’s so irresistible about images?
Images on the web can take control of your time in an instant and lead you down a path that you didn’t intend on taking.
You must have experienced the irresistible urge of flipping through photos during your lunch break and letting them distract you for a minute or two. One moment, you find yourself laughing over the images and the next moment, you are sharing them with friends.
Not surprisingly, six out of the ten most popular pieces of content that HubSpot has shared on our Facebook page in the last 30 days are images. Their cumulative reach was in the range of 7,000-12,000 views.
Let’s take a look at the platforms that brought about this rise of visual storytelling in marketing.
Since December 2012, news of Pinterest, the popular image-based sharing platform, has dominated the technology and marketing blogs. The website has now exceeded 11 million unique visitors and is quickly becoming a big referral source for many organizations.
In our new ebook, How to Use Pinterest for Business we reveal that the network has been sending more traffic to HubSpot’s blog than Google+ has. We’ll be keeping a close eye on how much of that traffic is actually qualified and converts into new leads.
Editor’s note: Later today, ProBlogger will show beginners how to get a head-started Pinterest. So if you’re not already hooked, look out for that post!
The photo sharing application Instagram has accumulated 15 million users and is quickly outgrowing Foursquare. The iPhone app is a great way to successfully tap into the mobile and social marketing trend and enable users to experience your brand in a different way.
“Think about the artsy ways you could showcase your work, your staff or your customers with this tool,” writes John Jantsch.
Starbucks, Red Bull, General Electric, and Marc Jacobs are among some of the brands that are using Instagram for great marketing.
Slideshare is a platform that enables businesses and individuals to upload their presentations online and share them for free. It’s a great tool for B2B companies, for which presentations have remained a powerful form of social media.
In 2011, HubSpot’s presentations hosted on SlideShare accumulated more than three million views and thousands of downloads and social media shares.
Just like with Pinterest and Instagram, SlideShare can yield positive results for your organization if the presentations you are sharing convey clear value in a well-designed form. “Take an extra hour or hire a designer to make sure that important presentations are visually powerful,” advises HubSpot’s Kipp Bodnar.
Naturally, there are many other image-based platforms out there that can be used in combination with your other marketing activities. For instance, you can upload pictures to Flickr and share them on Facebook or Twitter. ISSUU is another website that hosts visual content, such as magazines, ebooks, and other documents.
What should you do about the rise of visual content in marketing?
- Get on board: Join a visual storytelling platform and start posting some of your existing image-heavy content. Make sure the pictures you upload convey value and are consistent with your brand identity. Don’t forget to optimize the description of your posts and include links back to your website.
- Include calls to action: Make sure that your visual content includes calls to action that take viewers to a landing page on your website related to the specific visual content. This will be your way of qualifying prospects and getting them to convert into leads. For instance, you can include calls-to-action at the bottom of infographics, in the descriptions of images, or on the last slide of presentations as a natural next step for readers who want to further engage with your brand.
- Measure impact: At the end of the day, what’s going to matter most is the levels of traffic, leads, and customers you generate via a specific platform. Use marketing software that tracks how your traffic is changing, and has the capability to compare different sources and provide you with reliable reporting. With access to such insights, you can revisit your strategy and prioritize the efforts that deliver the best results.
Have you started using visual content to market your business? What is your number one tip for newbies?
This is a guest post by Magdalena Georgieva, an inbound marketing manager at HubSpot. HubSpot is a marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA that makes inbound marketing and lead management software.