Marketing online is an interesting task. On one hand it is easier than it ever was before thanks to our improved platform for such advertising. Likewise, our reach is more impressive than it has been in the past. You can attract customers from all over the world, while still focusing a strategy on localized business, without diluting your results.
But there are some cons. Like how oversaturated the market – every market – happens to be.
Getting seen is difficult at best and you have to be constantly vigilant to make the most of your campaign. Squeezing every little bit that you can out of a single marketing source is stressful, even if it is beneficial.
With the introduction of social media, things have changed even more drastically. But perhaps the biggest change in that regard is the way it has adapted over time to include more visual content. In that media lies our biggest and most effective marketing tool. With it, we can create visual marketing.
1. Stop Using Average Stock Images
First things first: avoid average stock images. There is a reason people make fun of stock photos; they look bad, and they are cheaply produced. A room full of laughing people in business suits might get a message across, but that doesn’t mean it actually enhances your content. Which is precisely what your images are there to do.
Cracked uses basic stock images on their content because it looks ridiculous. They use witty captions that underline the boring, mundane aspect that each picture is illustrating.
Stay away from basic stock photos: They make your content look unnatural and cheap!
2. Instead…, Reinvent Stock Images More Creatively
You don’t have to keep your stock images as they are. Borders. filters, crops, additions, changes… These all give stock images a more unique bent, and all rely on your aesthetic and creativity to work.
Be sure to check licenses prior to changing any images. Some will prohibit the work being used if it is not fully intact, as it was published. If you are on a subscription service and there are no licensing specifics on each image, you may want to double check the service FAQs.
PicMonkey is a great tool for that: From filters to collages and nice-looking text overlays, you can easily make any basic image look unique and cool.
3. Stop Using Thumbnails: UPLOAD Your Visuals to Social Media Channels
Social media platforms are wicked beasts: Like any other sites they don’t want their users to abandon them by clicking the link you share there.
They want their users to stay and keep browsing: This is why, if you upload content versus just linking to it, they will give it a boost.
Don’t believe me? Look at your social media stream: Notice that if you share a link, all you get is a couple of likes. But as soon as you upload a picture, there’s a flood of likes and comments.
That’s not just because your friends like to see pictures more than read your blog posts: It’s because Facebook will show your pictures in overwhelmingly more feeds than it will show your links.
4. Think In Memes
Memes are a great way to connect with the collective consciousness of the web. Of course, you want to do this the right way. There is nothing clever or helpful in misusing a meme. You should know how it applies, and make it funny and relevant. Don’t just toss a meme in for no reason, or it will backfire.
It is like when you see a marketing blog putting up an image of Boromir, with the caption “One does not simply forget about email newsletters”. You can almost see the eye roll of the reader.
5. Make the Most of Visual Quotes
Visual quoting may be overused and sometimes abused (Many of the visual quotes you see these days are fake: Those people never said that) but, hey, they still work! And if you approach visual quoting responsibly, you’ll see great results.
Try using these visual marketing and creation tools to put your favorite words into images. And don’t forget what we just said: #3!
6. Mix Up Your Media
Finally, who says all of your visuals have to be pictures? It is better to think of visual content as an expanded category, filled with different types of media to appeal to your site visitors.. Buzzfeed is a great example of this in principle, with their GIF based content that allows moving images to tell a story.
But earlier examples are introduction videos, integrated animations embedded in stationary backgrounds, and really anything that catches the eye.
7. Collect Your Media to Create New Channels
Look back at your visuals you were publishing over the past 12 months. Are there any that can be collected together and turned into a cool slideshow or video?
Do you know that visual quotes make an incredibly popular Slideshare content?
Or do you know that you can collect those visuals and pack them into a cool video? It can take around 20 minutes to do so with tools like Animoto! And those videos look fabulous!
8. Enhance Your Tutorials with Animated GIFs
Do you describe simple steps using lots of screenshots? Try using an animated GIF to make your point clear: These are very sharable and really amusing. As an additional incentive, you’ll be able to re-use those to market on your Pinterest, Twitter and Google Plus channels: These all play animated GIFs right in the feeds making them impossible to miss.
RecordIt is an incredibly easy tool to create those animated GIFs easily: just do your steps and the tool will turn those into a GIF image:
9. Take It Offline
Believe it or not, advertising in the real world still works. Less crowded than the ad-heavy Internet, you can use business cards, fliers and creative print marketing to drive traffic to your site, and generate leads for future profits. It is also ridiculously cheap and easy to do.
Keep an eye out for opportunities to get out into the community, such as related public events. While we won’t name a specific example here, multi-level marketing (while shady) proves the concept.
10. Start Using Visual-Marketing Oriented Tools
While popular digital marketing platforms like Hootsuite provide options for image uploads, they lack visual marketing features. The most visual-strategy-friendly platform out there is MavSocial.
They let you upload images or use built-in search to use visuals they provide. You can bulk-schedule visual updates to go live on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.
Do you have any ideas for unique photos on your site, that don’t require you to be a professional photographer? Let us know in the comments!