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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO
KNOW ABOUT VISUAL CONTENT
Table of Contents
II. What is Visual Content?
I. Intro
I
III. Why Visual Content Works for Brands
IV. Elements of Successful Visual Content
VI. Publishing
VII. How Visual Content Serves Your Marketing
VIII. Fastest-Growing Visual Platforms
IX. The ROI of Visual Content
XI. How to Get Started: Visual Content Strategy
XIII. How to Get Started: Visual Content Creation
V. A Taxonomy of Visual Content
Visual content is the new kid in school, and
everyone has a crush on it. But it’s more
than just pretty pictures in blog posts and
ever-popular infographics. It’s a powerful
medium that uses the human visual system to
communicate information in a way that is easy
to consume, understand and recall later.
Visual content makes your message stick,
while giving you an opportunity to creatively
connect with your consumers through great
design. Of course, that all sounds great, but how
do you know what visual content will work for
your goals? How do you make sure people see
it? How do you come up with the right idea?
We have you covered. Here’s everything you
really need to know.
Intro
Photos Slideshows Infographics
E-books
Motion
Graphics
Interactive
Graphics
Videos
II
What is Visual Content?
It is the graphics and images that you see, read
and interact with as you consume media,
including:
Why Visual Content Works for Brands
A month after Facebook debuted Timelines, infusing newsfeeds
with photos and videos, brands saw a 65% increase in engagement
(Simply Measured, 2012).
Whereas brand publishing was once relegated to traditional ads, sales collateral and the occasional press release, a visual
approach to content marketing lets you tailor and deliver an interesting message at various stages of the buyer’s journey,
supporting your marketing goals.
Old and new publishing platforms
alike are increasingly focusing
on visual content, attracting and
engaging enormous audiences.
Delivering your content through
these channels expands your reach
far beyond your company blog or
traditional marketing efforts. Visuals
are now the price of entry.
Aesthetic appeal is not the only
reason visual content is more
shareable. It is easier to publish
an image on media outlets and
social platforms than to copy/
paste an entire article.
Consumers are attracted to brands not
just for their products/services but for
their values and customer relationships.
Visual content helps you showcase your
company’s personality, culture and
values. Whether it’s through Instagram or
your blog, it provides a window into the
way you work and the things you care
about.
Expand Your Reach Build an Authentic RelationshipSpread the Word
III
Elements of Successful Visual Content
Visual content is effective because it provides three advantages in
communicating with your audience:
Visual content uses design to present information in a format that is
stimulating, attractive and engaging. This makes it easier to synthesize
and piques interest immediately. In short, visual content grabs your
audience’s attention.
The brain’s visual processing system is faster and more efficient than
other communication systems, which means we are able to interpret
visual information almost instantly and with minimal effort. Visual
content is easier to understand, making it more enjoyable to
engage with.
The visual processing system also works with our
long-term memory, connecting the images we see to
information already stored in the brain. This makes
visual content more memorable than other mediums.
Appeal:
Comprehension:
Retention:
1
2
3
IV
STATIC DYNAMIC
COST
FORMAT
E-BOOKS
REPORTS
ILLUSTRATIONS
MINIGRAPHICS
NARRATIVEINFOGRAPHICS
QUIZZES
SURVEYS
CALCULATORS
EXPLAINERVIDEOSANIMATEDGIFS
ANIMATEDGIFSDEMOVIDEOS
INTERVIEWS
COMMERCIALS
LONG-FORMVIDEOS
SHORT-FORMVIDEOS
DATAVISUALIZATIONS
ANIMATED
SLIDESHOWS
SLIDESHOWS
MULTI-PAGE
IMAGES
INFOGRAPHICS
INTERACTIVE
INFOGRAPHICS
LIVE-
ACTION
VIDEOS
MOTION
GRAPHICS
DATA
VISUALIZATIONS
COMICS
PHOTOS
MEMES
LOWHIGH
Visual content comes in
many forms, each of which
helps serve a specific
purpose. It is important to
first consider your message
and your objectives. Once
these are established, you
should select the best
format to tell your story to
the world.
V
A Taxonomy of
Visual Content
Publishing
Free; guaranteed placement
Free; guaranteed placement
Credibility with publication audiences; expanded reach
Credibility; expanded reach
Highly targeted; elevated exposure, guaranteed placement
Targeted thought leadership; elevated exposure
Website
PLATFORM BENEFIT
Social Media
Publications
Brand accounts
Media pickup
Social influencers’ accounts
Sponsored content
Sponsored posts
You can help your content reach an audience and gain
exposure through a variety of distribution channels. Based on
your budget and goals, choose the platforms that serve your
needs. When deciding which outlet to use, consider the
audience it reaches, as well as the content formats it supports.
VI
KEY
Paid
Earned
Owned
This content is a mix of
all three, providing
value to the audience
and including CTAs
that encourage
spreading the
word.
This content educates
viewers on the benefits of
what you are selling and
provides clear calls to
action for purchase.
This content builds the
viewer’s trust and
establishes your brand’s
credibility.
This content appeals to
the broadest segment of
your target audience. It
captures attention and
provides something
of value to the
viewer.
Thought leadership and
useful resources:
A healthy mix:Product or service
information:
Informative or
entertaining:
How Visual Content
Serves Your Marketing
Visual content can help support efforts at every stage of the customer journey.
Content should be optimized to reach specific audiences, helping move them along
the path to purchase.
VII
AWARENESS CONSIDERATION CONVERSION LOYALTY + ADVOCACY
Fastest-Growing
Visual Platforms
200 Million Users
= 2 Million UsersKEY
70 Million Users
60 Million Users
SlideShare Tumblr Instagram Pinterest Snapchat Vine
117 Million Users
26 Million Users
40 Million Users
Publishers are taking a more
visual approach to publishing—
whether that’s creating
more photo-heavy posts,
incorporating infographics or
allowing users to create and
share their own visual content—
but certain visually focused
platforms have experienced
enormous growth. Building a
presence on these platforms
connects you with a highly
engaged audience.
Year Founded
VIII
The ROI of
Visual Content
Online marketers have long focused primarily
on the volume of visitors they can attract to a
site, relying on the almighty page view as the
most significant metric to gauge ROI. But that
measurement is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
Audience interaction with the content is no
longer a given; a one-off piece of content can
receive millions of hits, but it won’t necessarily
help nurture a relationship with your brand.
Genuine interactions and engagement—the true
value to a brand—can be measured by other
more meaningful metrics.
IX
Word of mouth is the most powerful
form of marketing. When consumers
share your content, they are putting their
own stamp of approval on it. Although
a share does not necessarily guarantee
that consumers have read all content,
this credibility is tremendously valuable,
helping expand your reach through your
audience’s personal networks.
When you compel your audience
to interact with you, you are
creating true engagement.
This interaction cements your
relationship, allowing you to
nurture it over time. Interaction
can be gauged by things such as
comments, likes or new followers.
Effective visual content compels
action. As visitors explore your
content, they encounter related
CTAs that nudge them to take
the desired action, whether
that’s a newsletter sign-up or
product demo download.
Shares: Conversion Rate:Interactions:
It isn’t just about getting an audience to your site; it’s about providing that audience with a
meaningful experience that will form a lasting connection. The longer a consumer spends watching a
video, scanning through photos or interacting with your content, the closer you are to forming a bond.
Metrics such as time on page and completion rate help track this engagement. But new, more refined
metrics such as page scroll and article completion offer more insight.
Time on Page/Completion Rate:
X
How to Get Started:
Visual Content Strategy
Successful content is created with intent, based on strategic thinking. Before
you begin to create content, define the following.
The first thing you need to understand is the audience you are
trying to reach. Creating content without knowing who you’re
creating it for is a recipe for failure.
Audience
Who are you trying to reach?
What type of content do they consume?
What level of knowledge do they have?
Engagement
With your audience and end-goal in mind, determine the best
channels for distributing the content you create.
Distribution Strategy
Once you understand how to engage and reach your
audience, your task is to develop captivating content that
addresses both your audience’s need and your own goals.
Creative Strategy
What unique value can your content provide your audience?
What do you want them to do or know as a result of seeing
your content?
XI
Where does your audience spend time online?
Which publications can amplify your reach?
What content will engage them to take the desired action?
INPUTS
OUTPUTS
Identify exactly what goals you are trying to achieve with your
content, and define how you will measure success. This may be in
traffic, shares, media pickup, views or conversions. Regardless, all
content should serve that goal.
It takes more than a great idea to produce great visual
content. There are many moving parts, including multiple
roles and phases. Follow these steps to create effective
visual content.
The creative brief clearly outlines the relevant
information for a project, including:
1) Write a Creative Brief
1. Background Information: Project, department, initiative, campaign
2. Objectives: Specific action, such as an e-book download or site visit
3. Goals: Ultimate goal, such as increased brand awareness
3. Audience: Who you are looking to reach
4. Specifications: Formats, distribution channels, dimensions, branding guidelines, etc.
Creative Brief Checklist
Project Name:
Project Format:
Design Hours:
Project Overview:
Objectives/Audience:
Dimensions and Orientation:
Style:
Inspiration:
Timeline:
XII
How to Get Started:
Visual Content Creation
How to Get Started:
Visual Content Creation
5 Questions to Vet Your Idea
1) Will it be interesting to your audience?
2) Can it be distributed effectively to
reach them?
3) Does it align with your engagement
goals?
4) How original is this idea?
5) Does it fit your brand?
Once you have completed your brief, it’s time to
brainstorm your creative idea. This stage relies on
successful collaboration, creative inspiration and
critical analysis of your ideas. Assemble a group of
individuals from different disciplines to increase your
pool of thought. Every idea you generate should
be able to achieve the objective designated in the
creative brief.
2) Ideate Around the Brief
After your idea is vetted, begin creating your
content. Create a timeline to guide the process,
and decide whether you’ll use internal resources
or outside vendors or freelancers. This phase
may require research, source materials, outlining,
copywriting, or scripting, depending on the type of
content you are developing. Make sure content is
approved by required teams at each stage.
3) Craft Your Content
XIII
How to Get Started: Visual Content Creation
Good art direction and design is the
foundation of successful visual content.
Having a professional (whether that’s an art
director, creative director or lead designer)
oversee the project is essential to ensure
the end result is both beautiful and effective.
Whether you use an in-house designer or
hire a freelancer, make sure the designer is
familiar with best practices for the specific
type of content you are creating.
4) Design Your Content
PRESCHOOLS
OF THOUGHT
The who, what and why of the case for early childhood education
A NATIONAL SNAPSHOT
ECE THROUGH THE YEARS
With its viability no longer in question and a strong endorsement in President Obama’s
State of the Union address, early childhood education (ECE) has hit mainstream. We
explored further to learn who’s spending the most, what good it does and what that means
in the long run for our leaders of tomorrow.
this is where we will have the heat map of the United States. Temperature will be
determined by the spending per child by each state.
Data is in the State ECE Data shared spreadsheet.
a line graph showing the national, average percent of 4 year olds enrolled in an
ECE program.
25
30
FINAL
DRAFT
WIREFRAME
XIV
info@columnfivemedia.com
949.614.0759
@columnfive
For more on creating effective visual content, download our free e-book, A Business Guide to Visual Communication.
Column Five is an industry-leading visual communication agency, specializing in infographic
design and data visualization, with offices in Newport Beach, Calif., and Brooklyn, N.Y. The
company was founded in 2009 by Ross Crooks, Jason Lankow and Josh Ritchie, professors of
Visualization of Information at Columbia University and authors of Infographics: The Power of
Visual Storytelling (Wiley, 2012).
We are always happy to help you solve any visual
content challenges. If you have a project in mind,
let’s talk about it.

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Everything You Need to Know About Visual Content

  • 1. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VISUAL CONTENT
  • 2. Table of Contents II. What is Visual Content? I. Intro I III. Why Visual Content Works for Brands IV. Elements of Successful Visual Content VI. Publishing VII. How Visual Content Serves Your Marketing VIII. Fastest-Growing Visual Platforms IX. The ROI of Visual Content XI. How to Get Started: Visual Content Strategy XIII. How to Get Started: Visual Content Creation V. A Taxonomy of Visual Content Visual content is the new kid in school, and everyone has a crush on it. But it’s more than just pretty pictures in blog posts and ever-popular infographics. It’s a powerful medium that uses the human visual system to communicate information in a way that is easy to consume, understand and recall later. Visual content makes your message stick, while giving you an opportunity to creatively connect with your consumers through great design. Of course, that all sounds great, but how do you know what visual content will work for your goals? How do you make sure people see it? How do you come up with the right idea? We have you covered. Here’s everything you really need to know. Intro
  • 3. Photos Slideshows Infographics E-books Motion Graphics Interactive Graphics Videos II What is Visual Content? It is the graphics and images that you see, read and interact with as you consume media, including:
  • 4. Why Visual Content Works for Brands A month after Facebook debuted Timelines, infusing newsfeeds with photos and videos, brands saw a 65% increase in engagement (Simply Measured, 2012). Whereas brand publishing was once relegated to traditional ads, sales collateral and the occasional press release, a visual approach to content marketing lets you tailor and deliver an interesting message at various stages of the buyer’s journey, supporting your marketing goals. Old and new publishing platforms alike are increasingly focusing on visual content, attracting and engaging enormous audiences. Delivering your content through these channels expands your reach far beyond your company blog or traditional marketing efforts. Visuals are now the price of entry. Aesthetic appeal is not the only reason visual content is more shareable. It is easier to publish an image on media outlets and social platforms than to copy/ paste an entire article. Consumers are attracted to brands not just for their products/services but for their values and customer relationships. Visual content helps you showcase your company’s personality, culture and values. Whether it’s through Instagram or your blog, it provides a window into the way you work and the things you care about. Expand Your Reach Build an Authentic RelationshipSpread the Word III
  • 5. Elements of Successful Visual Content Visual content is effective because it provides three advantages in communicating with your audience: Visual content uses design to present information in a format that is stimulating, attractive and engaging. This makes it easier to synthesize and piques interest immediately. In short, visual content grabs your audience’s attention. The brain’s visual processing system is faster and more efficient than other communication systems, which means we are able to interpret visual information almost instantly and with minimal effort. Visual content is easier to understand, making it more enjoyable to engage with. The visual processing system also works with our long-term memory, connecting the images we see to information already stored in the brain. This makes visual content more memorable than other mediums. Appeal: Comprehension: Retention: 1 2 3 IV
  • 7. Publishing Free; guaranteed placement Free; guaranteed placement Credibility with publication audiences; expanded reach Credibility; expanded reach Highly targeted; elevated exposure, guaranteed placement Targeted thought leadership; elevated exposure Website PLATFORM BENEFIT Social Media Publications Brand accounts Media pickup Social influencers’ accounts Sponsored content Sponsored posts You can help your content reach an audience and gain exposure through a variety of distribution channels. Based on your budget and goals, choose the platforms that serve your needs. When deciding which outlet to use, consider the audience it reaches, as well as the content formats it supports. VI KEY Paid Earned Owned
  • 8. This content is a mix of all three, providing value to the audience and including CTAs that encourage spreading the word. This content educates viewers on the benefits of what you are selling and provides clear calls to action for purchase. This content builds the viewer’s trust and establishes your brand’s credibility. This content appeals to the broadest segment of your target audience. It captures attention and provides something of value to the viewer. Thought leadership and useful resources: A healthy mix:Product or service information: Informative or entertaining: How Visual Content Serves Your Marketing Visual content can help support efforts at every stage of the customer journey. Content should be optimized to reach specific audiences, helping move them along the path to purchase. VII AWARENESS CONSIDERATION CONVERSION LOYALTY + ADVOCACY
  • 9. Fastest-Growing Visual Platforms 200 Million Users = 2 Million UsersKEY 70 Million Users 60 Million Users SlideShare Tumblr Instagram Pinterest Snapchat Vine 117 Million Users 26 Million Users 40 Million Users Publishers are taking a more visual approach to publishing— whether that’s creating more photo-heavy posts, incorporating infographics or allowing users to create and share their own visual content— but certain visually focused platforms have experienced enormous growth. Building a presence on these platforms connects you with a highly engaged audience. Year Founded VIII
  • 10. The ROI of Visual Content Online marketers have long focused primarily on the volume of visitors they can attract to a site, relying on the almighty page view as the most significant metric to gauge ROI. But that measurement is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Audience interaction with the content is no longer a given; a one-off piece of content can receive millions of hits, but it won’t necessarily help nurture a relationship with your brand. Genuine interactions and engagement—the true value to a brand—can be measured by other more meaningful metrics. IX
  • 11. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. When consumers share your content, they are putting their own stamp of approval on it. Although a share does not necessarily guarantee that consumers have read all content, this credibility is tremendously valuable, helping expand your reach through your audience’s personal networks. When you compel your audience to interact with you, you are creating true engagement. This interaction cements your relationship, allowing you to nurture it over time. Interaction can be gauged by things such as comments, likes or new followers. Effective visual content compels action. As visitors explore your content, they encounter related CTAs that nudge them to take the desired action, whether that’s a newsletter sign-up or product demo download. Shares: Conversion Rate:Interactions: It isn’t just about getting an audience to your site; it’s about providing that audience with a meaningful experience that will form a lasting connection. The longer a consumer spends watching a video, scanning through photos or interacting with your content, the closer you are to forming a bond. Metrics such as time on page and completion rate help track this engagement. But new, more refined metrics such as page scroll and article completion offer more insight. Time on Page/Completion Rate: X
  • 12. How to Get Started: Visual Content Strategy Successful content is created with intent, based on strategic thinking. Before you begin to create content, define the following. The first thing you need to understand is the audience you are trying to reach. Creating content without knowing who you’re creating it for is a recipe for failure. Audience Who are you trying to reach? What type of content do they consume? What level of knowledge do they have? Engagement With your audience and end-goal in mind, determine the best channels for distributing the content you create. Distribution Strategy Once you understand how to engage and reach your audience, your task is to develop captivating content that addresses both your audience’s need and your own goals. Creative Strategy What unique value can your content provide your audience? What do you want them to do or know as a result of seeing your content? XI Where does your audience spend time online? Which publications can amplify your reach? What content will engage them to take the desired action? INPUTS OUTPUTS Identify exactly what goals you are trying to achieve with your content, and define how you will measure success. This may be in traffic, shares, media pickup, views or conversions. Regardless, all content should serve that goal.
  • 13. It takes more than a great idea to produce great visual content. There are many moving parts, including multiple roles and phases. Follow these steps to create effective visual content. The creative brief clearly outlines the relevant information for a project, including: 1) Write a Creative Brief 1. Background Information: Project, department, initiative, campaign 2. Objectives: Specific action, such as an e-book download or site visit 3. Goals: Ultimate goal, such as increased brand awareness 3. Audience: Who you are looking to reach 4. Specifications: Formats, distribution channels, dimensions, branding guidelines, etc. Creative Brief Checklist Project Name: Project Format: Design Hours: Project Overview: Objectives/Audience: Dimensions and Orientation: Style: Inspiration: Timeline: XII How to Get Started: Visual Content Creation
  • 14. How to Get Started: Visual Content Creation 5 Questions to Vet Your Idea 1) Will it be interesting to your audience? 2) Can it be distributed effectively to reach them? 3) Does it align with your engagement goals? 4) How original is this idea? 5) Does it fit your brand? Once you have completed your brief, it’s time to brainstorm your creative idea. This stage relies on successful collaboration, creative inspiration and critical analysis of your ideas. Assemble a group of individuals from different disciplines to increase your pool of thought. Every idea you generate should be able to achieve the objective designated in the creative brief. 2) Ideate Around the Brief After your idea is vetted, begin creating your content. Create a timeline to guide the process, and decide whether you’ll use internal resources or outside vendors or freelancers. This phase may require research, source materials, outlining, copywriting, or scripting, depending on the type of content you are developing. Make sure content is approved by required teams at each stage. 3) Craft Your Content XIII
  • 15. How to Get Started: Visual Content Creation Good art direction and design is the foundation of successful visual content. Having a professional (whether that’s an art director, creative director or lead designer) oversee the project is essential to ensure the end result is both beautiful and effective. Whether you use an in-house designer or hire a freelancer, make sure the designer is familiar with best practices for the specific type of content you are creating. 4) Design Your Content PRESCHOOLS OF THOUGHT The who, what and why of the case for early childhood education A NATIONAL SNAPSHOT ECE THROUGH THE YEARS With its viability no longer in question and a strong endorsement in President Obama’s State of the Union address, early childhood education (ECE) has hit mainstream. We explored further to learn who’s spending the most, what good it does and what that means in the long run for our leaders of tomorrow. this is where we will have the heat map of the United States. Temperature will be determined by the spending per child by each state. Data is in the State ECE Data shared spreadsheet. a line graph showing the national, average percent of 4 year olds enrolled in an ECE program. 25 30 FINAL DRAFT WIREFRAME XIV
  • 16. info@columnfivemedia.com 949.614.0759 @columnfive For more on creating effective visual content, download our free e-book, A Business Guide to Visual Communication. Column Five is an industry-leading visual communication agency, specializing in infographic design and data visualization, with offices in Newport Beach, Calif., and Brooklyn, N.Y. The company was founded in 2009 by Ross Crooks, Jason Lankow and Josh Ritchie, professors of Visualization of Information at Columbia University and authors of Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling (Wiley, 2012). We are always happy to help you solve any visual content challenges. If you have a project in mind, let’s talk about it.