Visual Storytelling: 4 Ways to Pick the Right Medium for Your Story

Visual Storytelling Ways to Know Which Medium

Telling a great story is notoriously difficult. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be so many bargain-rack books, disappointing sequels, and flop TV shows out there. Knowing how to tell your story well as part of a marketing campaign is no easier. Once you decide to leave text-heavy copy behind and adopt a visual storytelling strategy, you face a more daunting challenge: choosing the right medium for your story.

Here are some guidelines for telling the best visual story possible, based on the nature of your content, who your audience might be, and what your goals are.

1. Your content is a little dry.

It’s hard to tell the story of your brand to a broad audience when that brand is highly technical and niche. It may feel impossible to tell your story in a way that readers can really connect with.

One solution here could be a motion graphic that relies heavily on illustration and a strong narrative. This way, you can personify key elements of what you do (check out how Carrington College personified viruses and bacteria here). Another option is to personify a typical customer — someone you think your audience might relate to. Then show that customer on a journey with your company as her guide. Focus on what will matter to the customer most and convince her to learn more.

2. You’ve got a lot of data.

Data can tell incredible stories — but sometimes it needs a little help. First, you need to pull the most compelling information and leave the rest behind. Then, you’ll need connective tissue to help readers interpret that data.

If you’ve got a huge dataset — say, you’re sharing the results of a survey that offer key insights into your brand — consider putting together a visual ebook. This will allow you more space to tell a more complex story.

If your dataset is a bit more manageable or easily broken up into subsections, try a static infographic or series of infographics. This allows people to spend as much time with each chart as they like, and makes your data easier to share. With a series, you can customize each infographic to each category of information. Likewise, you can break up a long-scroll infographic into smaller snippets for sharing on social media. It’s a great way to drive traffic back to your site.

Learn more about storytelling through data visualization.

3. You’re speaking to a broad audience.

Each piece of content should be optimized for its target audience. For younger audiences who prefer Snapchat and Instagram, try creating short videos optimized for vertically oriented Stories. For older audiences, longer-form horizontal video for sharing on Facebook may be a better option. But what if you’re trying to reach all of these audiences and more?

Your best option in this case is a visual campaign. A visual campaign incorporates multiple types of media, shared across a broad array of platforms. Each piece of media — whether it’s a motion graphic, a GIF, or a static micro-narrative — should be optimized for the platform where it appears.

There’s a way to create such a campaign without breaking the bank. Start by creating a visual language — a consistent look and feel that the entire campaign will adhere to. Then create a workbench, or a group of illustrations, charts, and icons that you can repurpose again and again for different mediums. This will help you keep costs low and maintain that same look across all your assets.

4. You want to boost conversions.

If you want to keep people on your site longer and nudge them farther down the sales funnel, consider an interactive web page or widget. Visual interactive content boasts a 70% conversion rate. Why? Because it encourages people to interact with the content on the screen that keeps them active and engaged. Interactive widgets, calculators, and web pages urge people to input information about themselves and offer recommendations based on that information. For instance, a widget might recommend a particular product out of your company’s suite of products for a person based on her goals, income, budget, or other factors. The results therefore feel more highly personalized to that reader, and your product feels like a better fit.

The bigger the visual campaign, the bigger or more complex the goal may be. You may find that more than one of the above scenarios applies to you. Most visual campaigns will incorporate multiple kinds of content across platforms. Use the above criteria to determine what medium is right for each component of your campaign.

Erin McCoy

Author Erin McCoy

Erin McCoy is director of content marketing and public relations at Killer Visual Strategies. She earned her BA in Spanish with minors in French and Russian, and holds 2 master’s degrees from the University of Washington: an MFA in creative writing and an MA in Spanish literature. She has won nearly 2 dozen awards in photojournalism, and has dedicated those skills to boosting Killer’s brand recognition and thought leadership in visual communication. Since Erin took on her marketing/PR role, Killer has been named a member of the Inc. 5000 for 4 years in a row; has been featured in such publications as Inc., Forbes, Mashable, and the Huffington Post; and has been invited to present at such conferences as SXSW and SMX Advanced.

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