Visual storytelling has been a growing trend for quite a while and is used by all sorts of businesses today. It is a great way to create a connection with your audience in a quick and concise way. It’s also a great way to build a brand image and identity and convey it either to your clients or employees.
However, as powerful as it can be, it can also fall flat or even backfire if used incorrectly. In this article, we’re going to give you an introduction to visual storytelling, a few things you should avoid, and how to use it correctly in your business.
What is Visual Storytelling Exactly?
Simply put, visual storytelling is the art of communicating messages through the use of visual multimedia. Though it may have been gaining in popularity over the last few years, the concept is nothing new. But what makes it more relevant than ever is the increasingly visual nature of our society today, with the widespread use of screens and the shrinking attention spans of consumers.
Visual storytelling today can be done through the use of infographics, videos, and pictures to engage with your audience and trigger an emotional reaction.
But visual storytelling is about more than snazzy graphics or pairing nice images with a piece of content. It’s about finding the right way to make the content compelling and relevant to your target audience. When the visual component is at its most powerful, the content’s impact is magnified.
Why Is It so Important Today?
It has been shown that humans connect with images much better than they do with text. As a matter of fact, the human brain can process images over 60,000 times faster than plain text. It has also been found that a piece of content with images will get 94% more views on average than one without.
Then there’s the visual nature of social media. For instance, tweets that contain an image are 150% more likely to be retweeted, and nearly 66% of all content shared on social media has at least one visual component. So, if you want to connect with your audience online or if social media is a major part of your marketing strategy, you’ll need to be able to master visual storytelling.
What to Do and Avoid When Using Virtual Storytelling
One of the first things you should watch when using visual storytelling is not making your brand the central character. You want to make your audience the center of the story and show how you can fix their problem.
If you’re offering mobile fraud protection services for businesses, for instance, you don’t want to simply talk about statistics and what your business does. You want to tell the story from the developer’s side, and speak about the issues that might concern them, such as fraud protection, for instance. Only then can you present yourself as a solution.
But to be able to do this, you also need to know your audience. If you don’t, you won’t be able to present a problem and a character that your consumers will be able to connect with. And this can only be done by collecting data on your audience.
If you want to get a real demographic snapshot of your core audience, you have to find ways to get their age, gender, and profession at the very least. If you don’t know how to do this without being intrusive, you could simply send them a survey and extract as much relevant information as you can.
10 Tips for Effective Visual Storytelling
Creating effective visual stories really boils down to a few principles. Once you understand how this works, you’ll be able to consistently create content your audience will react to. Here are some of the principles you should follow.
1. First Impressions Count
You want your message to make an immediate impact. You want to grab your audience’s attention immediately. If they’re bored or get the wrong idea, they will tune out and look elsewhere.
2. Show, don’t Tell
If you can show someone using your products, don’t tell your audience about it. Instead of telling them what a product can do, show someone actually using it. Try to convey as much as you can without text or dialogue. You want your audience to get the gist of the message through the visuals.
3. Make Stories Move
We’re not talking about video or animated GIFs here. Even images can be static. If you want to make your images “move”, use interesting angles and images that will force your audience to look at different elements.
4. Follow an Arc
Your visual stories should follow an arc just as any story would. Make sure that your stories have a clear beginning, which is usually the presentation of a problem, the climax, which is a revelation or a solution, and the story’s resolution, which is where your call to action should be.
5. People Like People
Make sure that you don’t focus only on your product, but the actual people behind it. This means your team and your clientele. Showing your team fully engaged in helping clients will create a sense of connection with your audience.
6. Be a Teacher
People love knowledge as well, and they will always appreciate it if you can educate them in some way. This could be by introducing a few powerful facts they may have not heard about. Teach them about their problem and they’ll be more likely to listen to your solution.
7. Use Eye Candy
Images don’t need to be as aesthetically pleasing as much as they need to be eye-catching. That means using strong images that stimulate all the senses. To be a good visual storyteller, you have to find images that can catch the eye, captivate, and are even aspirational.
8. Focus Your Message
You should never lose focus of the message, however. As much as you want your images to get your audience’s attention, you want them to remember your message. So, make sure that you use images to emphasise the most important elements of your message.
9. Use the Hitchcock Rule
Albert Hitchcock came up with a simple but powerful rule to determine the placement of images in frames. According to him, the size of the images should be proportional to their importance in the story. So, make sure images that are central to your story are central to the frame as well.
10. Use True Stories
When possible, try to use true stories. True stories with true people will have a much deeper impact than characters. If you can find a client that represents your core audience to a tee, try to ask them if they’d like to be part of a visual storytelling video.
Now that you know a little bit more about visual storytelling and how to use it, you’ll be able to build a stronger connection with your audience and get them to engage with your message. Make sure that you always find ways to improve your message, and work with the right team to help you convey it effectively.