What Visual Marketers Need To Know About The 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

As a marketer, you can never know too much.

Data and Insight is what drives every step of your campaign, from creating an entire marketing strategy, to choosing the Hashtag for your next tweet and everything that comes between.

And the more informed you are, the better the results you’re going to get.

Which is why data driven reposts – like this years Social Media Marketing Report from Social Media Examiner – are great ways to improve your understanding of the landscape and to help you leverage it for your own campaigns.

In this article you’re going to learn everything you need to know about Visual Marketing that’s talked about in this report, and gain actionable ways to leverage it for yourself.

So, if you’re ready, let’s get stuck into the data…

40% Of B2C Marketers Think Visual Content Is Important

And, they’re right.

That’s because visual content helps you as a marketer tell better stories about your brand. And, as Seth Godin points out in his book, All Marketers Are Liars Tell Storiesyour story is why people buy from you.

For example, let’s take a look at the energy drink, Red Bull.

They’re currently the worlds largest sports media company. And if you were to look at their website or Twitter Feed, that’s all you’d think they were- because there is little to no mention of their physical product at all.

Instead they share videos and images of extreme sports, awesome stunts and the crazy things their brand ambassadors get up to:

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Each piece of visual content adds to their branding and tells the story of a product that helps you live life outside of the ordinary.

Now, they didn’t just start doing on a whim either.

They did it because this is the content that their audience wanted to see, because this is what people who drink their drink care about. Even if it is mostly used for getting yourself through a bad hangover (but that’s visual content none of us want to see!).

When you’re choosing or creating your visual content remember to keep your brand identity – you can build one of those in five days right here – in mind, and to only use content that your audience is going to care about.

In essence: less filtered images of your lunch and more content that tells the right story about your brand.

But Only 24% Of B2B Marketers Think So…

There’s something that’s often forgotten in the world of B2B Marketing, and that’s this:

You’re still selling to people.

The decisions made about your product, services and whether they’re going to invest a lot of their businesses money in you is still made by a human being.

And, much like the B2C Marketing you just read about, these people respond well to emotion. In fact, a study conducted between Motista and Google discovered:

“On average, B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.”

Because, well, the stakes in a B2B situation are often worth millions of dollars. And, trust plays a huge factor in these decisions. Which is a bond that visual marketing can help build.

The SEO Powerhouse, Moz, uses visual content to build trust with their B2B clients – existing and potential – with their video series, Whiteboard Fridays.

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Every Friday since March 2007, they’ve published a video of one of their employee’s explaining how to tackle a tricky SEO task, like:

  • How to build better links
  • Creating Google Friendly on-site content
  • Getting past Spam Filters
  • Other SEO stuff I don’t understand

All with the end goal of building a higher level of trust with their audience, so that when it comes time for a business to fork out a lot of money to them, they know they’re buying into a service they can trust.

But you’re probably thinking right now, “Well, the other 76% of Marketers can’t be wrong about visual content, can they?”

 And wrong would probably be a harsh way of putting it. So, let’s just say it doesn’t line up with what B2B buyers want.

Because, as HubSpot found:

“86% of [B2B] buyers expressed some level of desire to access interactive/visual content on demand”

So not only is the demand from buyers there, it’s being neglected by the vast majority of marketers. Which means now is the time to take advantage.

Here’s three ways you can start sharing visual content on your social media channels right now:

Staff Interactions

Buyers like to know what’s going on inside your organisation. If they can see you’re part of an organisation that cares – about it’s people, it’s products and it’s customers – then they’re much more likely to trust you.

Staff Interactions are the perfect way to tick all those boxes. Microsoft have recently adopted this strategy on Social Media, and judging by their Retweets and interactions, it’s working magnificently:

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Product Visuals

KissMetrics found that consumers who watch videos are 144% more likely to buy than those who don’t. And, products with images sell at a higher rate too.

Even if you don’t have a traditional physical product – like a lot of B2B companies – don’t fret, you can always take a leaf out of Maersk’s book and use stunning photos and videos of your service in action:

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Thought Provoking Questions

Questions are perfect for engagement. In fact, when Neil Patel’s QuickSprout studied tweets, they discovered that updates with questions were 21% more likely to be engaged with.

So why not as a powerful or thought provoking question of your audience? Not only will you asking the question with a visual make you stick in their mind, if they engage with it (and you answer it) you’ve started to build a relationship with the buyer at the other end.

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73% Of Marketers Plan To Increase The Amount Of Visual Content They Use (But By How Much?)

This was one of the most interesting stats for two reasons:

  1. It’s great that marketers are beginning to recognise the importance of Visual Content
  2. ‘Increase’ is a bit of a loose term

Increase could mean anything from using one more image a week, to creating a whole social media strategy around them. And it doesn’t seem like many marketers know how many images they should be using.

And, I’ll hazard a guess that you’re one of those marketers too, aren’t you?

Don’t worry, because we know how many images you should be using, and why. So if you’re one of the 73% of smart marketers looking to use more visuals in your content marketing, we’ve got all the answers for you right here…

Blog Posts

Up until recently how many images you should be using in blog posts was never really clear. We knew that, as Jeff Bullas researched, they could get 94% more views than blog posts without. But there was nothing to say what the most effective amount of images was.

That was, until we joined forces with BuzzSumo to analyse just how many images was optimal.

In studying over one million articles, it was found that using an image every 75-100 words was the sweet spot for engagement:

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Now that doesn’t mean you should fill your latest 1000 word blog post with 10 random images and hope that it works.

In our own case study, where we managed to boost our blog traffic 226% in 60 days, we found that just adding images wasn’t enough. They needed to be relevant to the topic you’re talking about.

So when we wrote our post, 7 ways doodling will change your life, we made a point of backing up all of our points with a valuable image. The result?

  • Over 6,000 shares
  • 1,000+ pins on Pinterest

That’s a lot of extra exposure for a post from simply adding images to the post. But how can you harness this power for yourself?

Here’s some questions to ask yourself when choose an image for your blog post:

  • Does this image make sense in the post?
  • Does it add value?
  • Does it add depth?
  • Is my reader likely to share this?

You don’t need to check all of these boxes positively – for example a quote image doesn’t always add depth, but it adds value and is likely to be shared – but if it doesn’t fit your content, then your audience are bound to let you know about it.

Social Media

The short answer here is that all of your social media updates should contain an image. Because updates with images have text-based ones beat, hands down, every single time.

They get:

 Combine that with the 94% more click-through to content and websites that you read about before, and you’ve got a recipe for social media success.

Buffer have this down to a tee across all of their social media feeds.

Whether it’s Facebook:

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Or Twitter:

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Or Google+:

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They’re always leveraging visual content to eek every last drop out of their feeds, whether it’s the first time they’ve shared a piece of content, or the 100th.

A Bit About Quality…

Don’t skimp on the quality of your visual content. It doesn’t matter if it’s video or a stock photo, higher quality is always better than lower quality.

And, you might be thinking, “But quality is expensive!”.

But the truth is that it doesn’t have to be.

All of the Stock photos on Canva are only $1 each, for example. Or you can create a high quality text based image – using shapes and stickers for absolutely free.

If your Smartphone is any model made after 2013, you’ve probably got a HD camera and video recorder that doesn’t cost you anything to use either.

Where there is a will, there’s a way. But don’t sacrifice quality for, well, anything.

68% Of Marketers Want To Know How To Create Better Visual Content

Phew!

For us this was a really great stat to read about. Because it means that marketers are no longer happy with general, run of the mill content that you could find anywhere.

Now, you’re striving for quality in the images you’ve used. And you want to have ownership over the content you create too.

And, adding that personal touch and creating your own higher quality images, can have a big influence on your branding; making you more recognisable and interesting in busy news feeds.

If you’re not one of the marketers looking to create better visuals, then now is the time for you to become one – you don’t want to get left in this dust here.

And in-depth review of how to create better visual content is a little beyond the scope of this article. But, the good news is that the fantastic Mary Stribley has already written about if for you over at this post right here.

Or, if you want the short-and-snappy version, heress an Infographic showing you the basics of the type of content you should be using:

Putting This Data To Use…

Understanding what other marketers are doing is always a good wake up call and can give you hundreds of ideas of how it could work for your own strategy.

If nothing else, this post should serve to show you just how powerful visual content has become across social media – or marketing in general – and that it’s impact is only getting stronger and stronger.

But let’s recap the main points in this article, shall we?

  • If you’re in B2C Marketing use visuals to help you tell stronger stories to your consumers
  • For B2B Marketers, use visuals to create strong emotional connections – and trust – with your buyers (after all, they’re crying out for it!)
  • Increase your amount of visuals to every update for social media, and every 75-100 words for a blog post
  • Don’t ever skimp on quality
  • Always use images that are relevant to your topic

Now, it’s time for you to head back to your strategies and see where visual content fits in with it. If you need any help – or want to tell us where it fits in – don’t forget to leave a comment at the bottom of the article!

James is the founder of the Freelance Writers School where he teaches normal people how to make money through freelance writing even if they failed English at school.