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Visual Content Strategy: How to Source Eye-Catching Visuals That Tell a Story
Chris VelascoWednesday, 3rd May 2023
Julia McCoy5 min read · Jan 11 2022
Did you know 65% of the population are visual learners? In fact, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
In today’s age of visual information, creating visually stimulating content is no longer optional. It’s a must.
The only way to stand out is to publish memorable content — and visuals have been proven to stick to long-term memory.
According to education consultant Dr. Lynell Burmark:
“…unless our words, concepts, and ideas are hooked to an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about seven bits of information, while images go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”
No matter how good your content is, people won’t remember everything that you wrote. What they WILL remember are the images, illustrations, gifs, and videos that they saw and watched on your page.
This brings us to the “A” in our CRAFT framework: adding visuals. (This is an important piece for your content and your overarching visual content strategy.)
Want to learn every step involved in our C.R.A.F.T. framework? You’re in the right place. To learn more about AIO and C.R.A.F.T, read our individual guides:
- C – a full guide on cutting the fluff
- R – a full guide on optimizing your content for SEO
- A – a full guide on adding blog images and visuals
- F – a full guide on how to fact-check
- T – a full guide on how to trust-build in your content
In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of adding visuals as part of building trust with your audience (and a robust visual content strategy). And we’ll show you two ways of adding images and gifs to your blogs effectively.
Visual Content Strategy: The Importance of Visuals in AI Content
Adding visuals is one of those content topics that seems simple on the surface but is a bit more complex than you’d think.
Visuals, images, and media can do a lot of work in your content piece. 💪
The obvious purpose is to break up the text so it’s easier to read. But the deeper purpose is to add more meaning and context to your content.
Build Trust Through High-Quality Images
I can’t emphasize this enough: Images are trust builders.
When readers see visually appealing and relevant imagery accompanying well-written text, it increases their confidence.
If they see crappy or generic images, these will reflect poorly on your content and your brand.
Think about this: The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
So it’s important to do this part of CRAFT right.
Meeting Google’s E-E-A-T Guidelines
E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness — the criteria that Google uses when evaluating the quality of your website. By adding visuals to your AI content, you demonstrate:
- Expertise: Infographics or charts help establish subject matter expertise in your industry niche.
- Authoritativeness: Original photography or illustrations can set you apart from competitors and position your brand as an authority in the field.
- Trustworthiness: Ensuring all images are properly attributed demonstrates transparency, further building trust with your audience.
The importance of visuals in AI content cannot be overstated. They are essential not just for meeting Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines but to improve the user experience.
How to Add Visuals to AI Content
First let’s address the elephant in the room: unedited stock photos.
I have a strong dislike of stock photos in content. They’re generic at best, and irrelevant at worst. The best that can be said of them is that they break up the text in your content. Most of the time, they add nothing else.
Just look at how stock photos performed against original graphics in a survey of marketers. (Stock photos performed the worst; original graphics performed the best.)
If you want to use stock photos for your header images or thumbnails, that’s fine. But for your content, it’s better to be more creative.
Sure, it’s more work, but remember every element in your blog contributes to the trust you build — and that includes images.
Bring Statistics to Life with Charts, Graphs, or Screenshots
For this tutorial, I’m going to show you two ways you can add visuals to your blog.
Let’s look at this article that we wrote on Project Magi, which is Google’s new AI-powered search engine currently in development.
There are some good opportunities on this blog to add some images.
First, we have a statistic on the Bing search engine that mentions a 25% growth after they integrated ChatGPT. We pulled this information from SimilarWeb and, lo and behold, it came with a graph!
Instead of just writing it in text, why not demonstrate this piece of information in visual form to make it more powerful?
When presenting data or statistics in your content, consider using visual elements like charts, graphs, or infographics to convey the information more effectively. These visuals help readers grasp complex concepts quickly and easily.
For instance, if you’re discussing trends in social media usage over time, a line graph would be much more impactful than simply listing numbers in a paragraph.
In our example, an illustration would help the reader better understand the relationship between numbers so we added a graph from the statistic source to show what 25% growth looks like.
Since the graph was not a downloadable image, I took a screenshot of the graph with a tool called Nimbus Capture. Simply highlight the part of the screen that you want to capture and crop it. Nimbus has several editing tools to help you draw the reader’s eye to a specific part of the image.
Here I added a red box to highlight the 25% monthly growth rate.
To add an image to your blog on CaS, click the + sign on the floating toolbar to upload an image.
Once the image is uploaded, an image editing toolbar will appear where you can add a caption, set alignment, and add a link to your image. It’s always good practice to add a caption below the image and mention your image source.
So now we have anchor text with the source link within the preceding paragraph, and a screenshot below to go with it.
Screenshots also can serve as excellent visual aids when explaining how to use software features. A few tips on how to take screenshots for your blog:
- Take high-quality screenshots: Use tools like Nimbus, Lightshot Screenshot Tool, Greenshot, or the built-in print screen key on your computer to capture clear and professional-looking images.
- Add annotations: If necessary, add arrows, text boxes, or other visual elements to emphasize specific points within the screenshot. Tools like Skitch can help you do this with ease.
- Include proper attribution: When using screenshots from third-party sources, always include a link back to the original source in your content as a sign of respect and transparency.
A word on attribution: For most screenshots, you don’t have to ask permission. Most websites these days are happy to get more visibility this way. They want you to share their images, link back to them, and mention them.
Add GIFs to Match Your Brand Voice
Another way to keep your reader hooked is to add GIFs. But this is only useful for specific brands, specifically those with a brand voice that’s irreverent or witty. In these cases, a well-chosen, well-placed GIF can help add personality to your posts.
Using our previous example, the article mentioned “widespread internal panic at Google” due to the potential loss of its Samsung contract. This is one of those instances where you can add a gif to emphasize Google’s reaction.
So I went to Google Images and searched for panic GIFs, and there were a lot!
This is how I imagined the team at Google running around in reaction to the firestorm of AI competition now on their horizon. 😂
A word of caution: Don’t spam your posts with GIFs! Use them sparingly — no more than one per post — and add them to the right places.
GIFs are a fun way to add a touch of humor or emotion to your content without distracting from the main message. They work best when they complement the text and provide additional context for readers.
Here are some tips for adding GIFs effectively to AI content:
- Select relevant GIFs: There’s a huge collection at GIPHY you can use for your blogs. Choose a GIF that accurately represents the point you’re trying to make in the text.
- Avoid overuse: While it’s tempting to include multiple animated images, too many can look amateurish and detract from your content’s readability.
- Add descriptive alt-text: Ensure that each image has an appropriate description so search engines understand its purpose within the post. This also makes your content more accessible for users who rely on screen readers.
Adding screenshots and GIFs are just two examples of finding opportunities to add visuals to your content based on topic and brand voice.
How to Stay Consistent in Visual Branding
Maintaining consistency in visual branding is essential for building trust and increasing brand recognition across various marketing channels. To achieve this, follow these guidelines when incorporating visuals into AI content:
- Create a style guide: A comprehensive style guide helps ensure consistent use of colors, fonts, logos, imagery styles, and other visual elements across your content. When working with multiple individuals on content and design, it’s smart to have a unified style defined for your visual content strategy.
- Use custom illustrations: Invest in custom illustrations that reflect your brand’s unique identity and messaging. These can be more engaging than generic stock images and help set your content apart from competitors.
- Adapt visuals for different platforms: Ensure that the visual assets you use are optimized for various devices and social media channels to maintain consistency across all touchpoints. For example, an image designed for a blog post may need resizing or cropping before being shared on Instagram or Twitter.
Create Engaging Visuals That Captivate Your Audience
In a world where attention spans are getting shorter by the day, adding visuals to your content can make a huge difference in capturing your audience’s attention and keeping them engaged. By using images, videos, or infographics, you can make your content more visually appealing, easier to understand, and more memorable.
Visuals help to break up long blocks of text and provide a welcome change of pace for your readers. They can also make complex information more digestible.
If you’re publishing content with the help of AI, visuals become all the more important as AI output tends to sound cold and mechanical. If you don’t want to bore your readers with 2,000 words of pure text, it’s time to start adding visuals to your content.
Experiment with different formats and see what works best for your audience. With a little creativity and some eye-catching visuals, you can take your content to the next level and make a lasting impression on your readers.
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