The race for attention on social media has, in many ways, led to extra noise as people and companies produce even more content. However, as organic visibility on social media platforms has declined, the solution to the problem ultimately lies in asking the right question.
Instead of asking, “How can I stand out on social media?” perhaps a better question is, “How do I connect with my target audience on social media?”
While finding your audience is part of the answer to connecting with them, you need to gain their attention and keep it. In other words, you have to focus on topics that are of interest to your audience.
To capture attention and gain the recognition, awareness, and engagement required to get ahead, your social media visual content is critical. Given recent social media visual content trends, it will be hard to ignore them if you want to boost your marketing results.
According to Social Media Examiner’s influential 2018 report, 66% of those interviewed use Instagram, up from 54% in 2017. One word⎯visuals—sums up its popularity. However, it’s not just about images; the use of Video has only increased over the years and the statistics below support the continuation of the trend.
- 70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video.
- 72% of businesses say that the video has improved their conversion rate.
- 52% of consumers say that watching product videos increases their confidence in online purchase decisions.
IGTV is only the latest development in the rise of social TV and vertical videos. These developments only serve to encourage more brands to become broadcasters that cater to users via their mobile devices.
On Instagram, a video can be up to one hour long. In many ways, this trend in increasing video length is reflective of traditional TV channels; however, on Instagram, different channels are for Instagram users. Features like these will continue to boost Instagram’s popularity among users in 2019, and this will certainly be the case with similar social media platforms, thereby opening new avenues of social media marketing.
Home Depot, a popular home improvement brand, uses video as part of its overall strategy to drive traffic to its main site. They post eye-catching videos on Facebook that feature products in each video, which includes a web link in the caption so viewers can explore each product further, like in the example below.
When using video, consider several of the following tips to increase your engagement:
- Use captions: Most viewers watch Facebook videos without sound, so add captions to ensure viewers receive the message.
- Front-load your key messages: if a user notices your video, the most critical moment to capture their attention is during the first few seconds. Deliver key messages early and make the first part of a video compelling enough to earn more extended views.
- Try live video: Many of the largest social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, give brands the opportunity to go live anytime, and those features are delivering results for marketing teams. 81% of marketers who used Facebook Live found it to be an effective strategy. You can use these features to promote events, capture authentic moments, and share your brand’s personality in an informal setting.
- Experiment: Several variables can make a social video resonate with your audience, including the length of the video, subject, platform, copy, and more. Regardless of how much you know about videos that perform well for your business, trying new content and formats—and measuring the results⎯will only help you better your campaigns.
- Analyze your data: With so many social media analytics tools available, it helps to look at the data to identify what is working well for you and then build content based on that.
To capture your audience’s attention, you need to create experiences and messages that speak directly to them. Personalizing your content on social media is key; in fact, 96% of marketers believe that personalization advances customer relationships.
Businesses like Netflix and Amazon are already leveraging the power of personalization. Logging on to your Netflix account, for example, immediately shows you the evidence of personalization; they tailor the banner, carousels, order, artwork, text, and search to you. Personalization could, therefore, be summed up as:
Personalization = Maximize enjoyment + Minimize search time
It can be difficult to implement but implementing personalization in your content can be well worth the effort.
Highly relevant, targeted ads enabled Lexus to reach over 11M unique Facebook users and increase engagement by a whopping 1678%. Take a look:
How to make use of personalization:
- Know your customer segments well and produce content for each group
- Implement the use of re-targeting ads
- Use personalized quiz results in videos or visual formats
- Turn social media polls into action
- Encourage users to personalize the content they produce
- Celebrate holidays that are relevant to your geographic area
- Follow up with a targeted landing page
- Personalize your messages both online and offline like Coca Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign
The key to capturing your audience’s attention usually starts with a visual. Research has shown repeatedly that, for most people, visuals are more engaging and are more effective at conveying a message than non-visual content like a text-based ad in a newspaper.
However, since there is more visual content what types of visual content will help you stand out from the crowd?
Higher quality visuals are part of the answer, but consider the growing trend of producing bold, memorable, and creative visuals that generate conversation about your brand, cause, or product. Take this one, produced by Y&R Prague, for example, which appeared in Reporter Magazine.
The idea behind creative provocation is to help people to move beyond the usual mental models and tracks, allowing the person to come up with solutions they would usually not think of to the problem at hand.
Influencer marketing is much like word-of-mouth marketing that leverages the audience of influencers in a field to deliver your message to a broader audience.
Since people generally trust consumer opinions over corporate statements, frozen food retailer Iceland decided to use an influencer marketing campaign that tapped into a dedicated community of micro-influencers ”like “real mums” as opposed to celebrities.
After partnering with Channel Mum, Iceland’s approval ratings skyrocketed from 10% to 80%, which was a 72% increase above the agreed digital KPIs.
Use influencer marketing by:
- Determining your objectives and target audience
- Identifying what type of influencers you need
- Deciding on general content, brand guidelines, and goals
- Developing a budget and compensation
- Recruiting influencers who actively engage with your target audience by reaching out personally and privately
- Following the rules when it comes to advertising and sponsoring
- Showing willingness to give up most of your creative control to your influencers
- Boosting your credibility with influencer messaging on your channels
- Measuring campaign results
Social media stories
This accessible format of content first came to prominence as Snapchat released its “My Story” feature. Instagram and Facebook stories, as well YouTube Reels, soon followed this format. According to research by Statista, over 400 million Instagram users use Instagram Stories each month and this number has grown steadily since 2016. With millions of daily views across Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and other social media platforms, it is evident that the stories format is likely to become the primary social sharing feature, overtaking the News Feed layout.
Mobile usage and shorter attention spans will continue to fuel the popularity of Stories in 2019, especially among the millennials and Generation Z-ers who thrive on their relationships with brands being authentic and meaningful.
For businesses, it will become a necessity to establish a robust video strategy for ephemeral content, utilizing content that allows the user to engage with the brand but that also leverages FOMO (fear of missing out) much like soap operas on TV.
Content ideas could include featuring your employees in Stories, showing behind-the-scenes interviews or the making of a product, or asking for reviews. It may be time to get creative like Travel + Leisure, who creates guessing games to stimulate and entertain their audience like in the example below (image source: Tubular insights).
How can you use stories as social media content to build your brand? You can:
- Consider using Instagram Stories, especially if you are new to social media; they are growing the fastest and have a range of tools to help with your story creation.
- Ensure your stories evoke emotion so that your audience will more likely act on your call to action
- Use polls within Instagram Stories to extend or enhance existing experiences like sports events
- Add links to your stories to drive traffic and conversions
- Repurpose your stories for use on other platforms
- Use geofilters to engage your audience
- Add location tags to help others discover your business
- Mention your fans and give a shout-out to other brands on Instagram Stories to show your appreciation
- Try live video when creating stories, which can create more engagement and appear more authentic to viewers
- Add calls to action (CTA’s) to encourage your audience to take the next step and do something
Creating visual content for your social media marketing can be challenging. Having said that, trends show that it is a critical element for capturing your audience’s attention and engaging with them. Using visual content is not a guarantee for success. But, it does have the potential to achieve massive engagement if used correctly. The strategies and tips outlined in this article can help with using visual content in your social media channels; however, testing how each post performs is critical. Monitor your social media analytics and use the data to see what type of visual content works with your target audience and what content you need to discard from your social media strategy.