Content marketing is key when it comes to building meaningful interactions with an audience. For content marketers, a hugely important part of that strategy is graphics.
Visual content, whether videos, still images, infographics, or charts, is now a crucial part of any content strategy. You know that old saying about a picture being worth 1,000 words? These days, it’s worth well over 1,000 clicks, too.
Still, a common misconception among business owners I talk to is that you have to have a graphic design degree to get eye-catching visuals that help tell your story. That might have been true at one point, but today’s content creators have a variety of simple software tools from which to choose, not to mention access royalty-free photo libraries and endless sources of inspiration via sites like Instagram.
Why Your Content Needs a Visual Element
Visuals have several important jobs when it comes to your content. Among them are:
- They make content memorable. With attention spans shorter than ever, a 700-word block of text isn’t going to stand out from the deluge of content most of us see each day. Listed as text, multiple facts and statistics can confuse the reader and be harder to understand or even remember. Text married with eye-catching visuals, however, give the reader eye candy to tell a story that’s easier for both the eye and the mind to digest and recall.
- They stand out on social media. We all know the endless social media scroll that makes the eyes glaze over. One way to keep that from happening with your content is to add an image to your posts. Depending on your audience and what they respond to, this could be a vibrant, colorful photo, a funny illustration, or even something shocking. Consider what feelings and emotions appeal most to your audience and include images you believe will evoke those things.
- They make repurposing content easy. Creating content that can be repurposed down the road is a key part of any content strategy. Visuals are one of the easiest ways to do that. That might mean adding new images to an existing blog post, embedding video, or even turning a text-heavy piece of content into an infographic or slideshow.
The Right Tools Are Easy to Find—And Use
Content marketers today have plenty of potential tools at their fingertips that serve a range of visual needs. Consider investing in some of the following:
Canva is a simplified graphic design tool that lets even mere mortals like me create images for blog posts, social media updates, and even more complex graphics like charts and infographics. It is robust enough as a tool that some graphic designers use it, but so simple marketers can easily navigate it to create compelling visuals.
Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash are royalty-free libraries of professional-grade stock images. They are free to use and perfect for finding an image or two to accompany your blog posts and newsletters. We are HUGE advocates of investing in your own photography, but know there are great libraries like these out there to supplement with.
FotoRus is a photo-editing and collage-making app available for both iOS and Android. I love it to joosh up my Instagram photos. Little touches with this app have made a nice difference. Don’t over edit though. If you are editing photos, people can tell when faces have been overly touched up. As much as I don’t love my wrinkles, I’d rather be real to my audience and encourage my clients to do the same.
For video-editing software, options range from free services like Filmora to paid tools from Lumen5, Adobe Premiere Elements and Apple iMovie. When it comes to cost and complexity in terms of learning, these tools span a pretty wide range, so carefully consider what you’ll be doing with your content marketing videos and which product might best suit those needs.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to sink thousands or even hundreds of dollars into tools that will help you improve the visual elements of your content strategy. The more important thing to remember is that your visuals should be as on-brand as the rest of your content. In other words, your images and videos should match the style and mission you are trying to communicate to your audience. Once you know that, it’s just a matter of selecting the right tools to visually enhance your content and get more people talking.