The Internet is overflowing with visual content. It’s everywhere you look and thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices, it’s also everywhere you go all the time. To say the volume of visual content can be overwhelming is certainly an understatement, for consumers and advertisers alike.
Luckily, we’ve got some advice for those on the marketing side of content. We reached out to some higher-ups in various facets of visual content – Tumblr, Pinterest, Seattle visual communications agency Killer Infographics and Giphy, a search engine specializing in GIFs – and asked, “What are your visual content marketing best practices?”
David Hayes, Head of Creative Strategy, Tumblr
David Hayes points out that the first – and easiest – thing you can do is to create tall, narrow content with mobile screens in mind. “You want to build buildings over bridges,” he says, offering stacked GIFs and vertical infographics as examples. “The taller the piece of content, the longer the impression and the more likely you’ll get engagement.”
To achieve that engagement, he recommends starting by creating the highest-resolution asset first, something most Tumblr partners don’t realize. “Most people will start in the middle and say, ‘We want a bunch of GIFs,” Hayes says. “But you can make a high-quality video and chop it up into a bunch of GIFs and release them in a new way, and you can also distribute stills in that way.” He offers Lexus as an example of a brand that does that particularly well. The luxury automaker is also notable for becoming a part of its social communities, rather than blindly pushing content that may or may not fit. On Tumblr, for instance, users tend to communicate through content and visual media, rather than words.
“In a mobile-first, social-first world, the best brands come onto these platforms expecting that they’re not channels but neighborhoods where people live their lives,” Hayes says. “By studying, respecting and emulating people, and then becoming one of them, people go beyond being customers because they’ve create a relationship.”
Charlie Holbert, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Killer Infographics
If Charlie Holbert were to boil his best visual content marketing tips down to the simplest terms, he’d say to keep it simple and keep it brief. For an infographic, that means fighting the urge to cram in every possible piece of information. Killer Infographics tries to stay away from anything too text-heavy, instead focusing on the visuals.
“If you take the text out of the infographic, it should still be understandable,” Holbert says. “We want a piece of text to complement the image, not the image complementing that piece of text.
“The biggest danger is not catching a person’s interest. Someone will look at [the infographic] and if there’s too much stuff, they don’t know where their eye is going and it’s overwhelming,” he adds. “It may be extra helpful but if it doesn’t catch someone’s eye in the first three seconds, they’re gone.”
Kevin Knight, Head of Creative and Brand Strategy, Pinterest
First and foremost, Kevin Knight recommends staying away from “one size fits all” visual content. As Tumblr’s Hayes said when talking about “neighborhoods,” Knight notes that every platform has a different format, audience and vibe, and as a result, every platform should merit unique content.
“Something that works well in a window at Bloomingdale’s might be a great Pin, but not a great Instagram post,” Knight says. “I use Instagram plenty and I really use it as an escape of the day, to go look at something and be transported somewhere else. When I look at Pinterest, I’m looking at it as a future-planning tool: we’re going on a trip, we’re going to make dinner, we’re going to take the kids somewhere fun in the Bay Area.”
Knight’s point illustrates a larger one he has about Pinterest: it’s not so much a social network, which makes it totally different for advertisers. While platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter strive to have native ads so as not to disrupt the user experience, people go on Pinterest precisely for the branded content. “[Users] want travel tips from Four Seasons or Virgin, they want recipes from Kraft,” he explains. “The brand on Pinterest is the main event so we don’t aspire to have the brands be as good as the content; the brand is the content.”
Brad Zeff, Head of Content and General Counsel, Giphy
Because people are constantly bombarded with content, Brad Zeff recommends being respectful of their time. Get your message across quickly, pack a punch, and make it as easy as possible to consume and engage.
“These days, it’s asking a lot of someone to watch a one-minute video, for example, especially when it’s loaded with pre-roll and might buffer,” Zeff says. “At Giphy, we’re about GIFs, and GIFs animate and autoplay everywhere. They usually last only a few seconds, eliminating any barrier to entry.”
Zeff also thinks it’s important for visual content to be universal and accessible, not something that’s likely only going to appeal to your existing fans. For Giphy, that means having a vast number of GIFs that express universally-understood feelings and thoughts. “If you can get your branded content in front of folks who aren’t even looking for it, and satisfy their need in the process,” Zeff says, “well, that’s where the magic happens, as they say.”