“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” That quote from newspaper editor Tess Flanders appeared in a 1911 article on the topic of journalism and publicity. 106 years later, the recommendation is as relevant—and accurate—as ever. In our screen-and-be-seen world, visuals definitely matter, and we’re not just talking still photography. Today, video content, animated GIFs—and yes, good ol’ static images—are essential for success in digital and social media marketing.

Focus on the Stats and the Facts

The statistics about visual content in social media and digital marketing is compelling and downright fascinating (at least to an internet nerd like me!). If you’re in the business of selling stuff, you need to read and heed.

Use of images (photos, graphics) increases social media success significantly.

  • Twitter posts with photos get retweeted 150% more than text-only tweets.
  • Facebook posts with images generate 2.3 times more engagement than those without visuals.
  • Pairing a relevant image with information increases recipients’ recall by 55% within three days of receiving the message.

Video content is growing in importance and popularity.

  • The number of consumers who prefer to view product videos is quadruple those who would rather read product info.
  • Including the word “video” in an email subject line increases open rates by 19% and click-throughs by 65%.
  • In this calendar year, video content will comprise 74% of all internet traffic.

Social platforms for which visual content (Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest) is fundamental are growing rapidly.

  • Instagram has 600 million active users, with 300 million using the app daily.
  • Snapchat users watch 10 billion videos per day; that’s 2 billion more than Facebook users.
  • Shoppers referred to e-commerce sites via Pinterest spent twice as much money ($80) as shoppers referred by Facebook ($40).

Envision Your Visual Content Action Plan

As the stats confirm, visuals matter when it comes to capturing attention and motivating response from your audiences. How can you incorporate video content into your marketing and parlay the effort into increased success for your business? Here are some practical and tactical ideas.

1. Add “Reporter” to Everyone’s Job Description.

To share visual content, you must capture it first. In our design-oriented industry where a picture really is worth a thousand words, I hope you’re already focused on constantly acquiring photos. Now more than ever, this must become a priority and a task shared across your entire staff. Encourage your team to think like reporters, documenting shareable moments and seeking photo—and video—opportunities in the midst of their work days.

Determine who has administrative access to social profiles in order to streamline sharing. To make collection of visual content more simple, create a shared folder that everyone can access to upload their images. You can do this on a shared server or through a file sharing service like Dropbox. When people upload their images, require them to include pertinent info so that the person responsible for posting has all the details.

What could be shareable visual content?

  • Before and afters - Capture spaces transformed by the products you sell. (Yes, I know this can be very challenging! Look for ideas for attaining project photography on my blog; see link at end of article.)
  • New product arrivals - Get video of your staff receiving samples of new collections.
  • Product close-ups - Snap shots of products around your showroom to use as stock images.
  • Smiling faces - Have your staffers take shareable selfies so customers can see who’s working the showroom floor.
  • Hashtaggable moments - Take photos that capitalize on popular hashtags such as #ihavethisthingwithfloors and #interiorinspiration.
  • Events - Capture video clips when you host events at your showroom, focusing on people, products and pretty vignettes.

2. Use Manufacturers’ Images and Videos.

Make the most of the bounty of photography and video content created by the various manufacturers you represent in your store. These brands have already done the heavy lifting when it comes to creation of visual content and welcome your use of their imagery. Keep an inventory of this stock content handy at all times, as it will prove to be helpful not only for social posting but for supplementing the visual appeal of your website, e-newsletters and other marketing materials.

Don’t hesitate to ask brands for various size options for the photography they provide. For social posts and your website, you need smaller files that are quicker to upload and don’t hog space. Rather than resizing images yourself, request options from the source to save time and effort.

Here’s another tip. If you’ve sold (or are in process of selling) an exceptional installation in your area, reach out the manufacturer to see if the company would be interested in pursuing professional photography. It’s certainly worth asking, as visual content is mutually beneficial and has many valuable uses for brands, distributors and retailers.

3. For Video, Keep It Short and Prioritize the Picture.

85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound, and more than 80% of adults use multiple screens simultaneously to view content. That means your videos must offer immediate visual interest, or viewers will quickly scroll past what you post.

To create more interesting clips, follow a few tips.

  • Testing 1, 2… Check the lighting and framing of what you’re featuring before you start to make sure things look great out of the gate.
  • There’s an app for that. Check out smartphone apps to create animated posts or edit video clips. Popular options include Ripl, Spark Post, Photo Grid and Splice (find more details on my blog; see link at end of article.)
  • Be platform specific. What you shoot for Facebook might not be the best clip for Instagram. Keep your preferred social platform in mind when creating your clips for sharing.

4. Encourage Your Team to Up Their Skills—And Go Pro When You Can.

Good quality, attractive images are more likely to get attention and be shared. While it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to attain professional-level smartphone photography skills, it is possible to arm your team with some fundamental “how to” information. There’s an abundance of articles and training videos on the internet that can help everyone up their game. Search “smartphone photography tips” in Google and directly in YouTube to find a plethora of resources.

Whenever possible, hire a professional to capture images and video content for you. I find professional photography to be a particularly good investment for room scenes of exceptional installations, head shots of your staff, print-worthy images of your showroom and smiling-face-pix at special events. Ditto the preference for professionals when filming training or instructional videos for which light and sound are essential or creating romance videos that involve artful editing and inclusion of voiceovers and music.

Feel free to reach out to me with specific questions about visual content marketing and find more ideas and information at msg2mkt.com/blog; I’m here and happy to connect. Until then, I’ll see you on social media!