When it comes to creating premium content that generates clicks, views, shares and ultimately, productive conversations between a brand and its fan base, the competition can be pretty tough.
Content based solely on text no longer does the trick; not today nor in 2016 when most audiences have a huge appetite for bite-sized chunks of information served in the most digestible manner, which usually involves the presence of smart, funny, well-placed visual cues.
In an attempt to stay on top of their game, content creators are turning their attention to innovative forms of visual content to keep pace with the new demands and expectations of their public. One amazing way to create an engaging graphic is with a gifographic.
What Are Gifographics and How Can They Help Your Brand?
Gifographics are GIF-based infographics that ensure a better representation, visualization and understanding of the message through your content.
Also known as animated infographics, these fun, informative and engaging additions have been heavily promoted by Neil Patel on his blog, and have the substance and visual appeal that your writing requires to make waves in 2016.
In this post on Content Marketing Institute about the pros and cons of gifographics, a marketer says that these visual elements are clearly more complex than infographics, and thus, more expensive and difficult to produce. However, the author also says that since we all need to be creating better content, and gifographics are just that—a none-too-over-saturated better content type—you should invest in them right away, as a priority.
So, are they really worth it? I’ve created one of my own and will be discussing my findings below. Keep reading.
How to Craft Inspiring, Information-Rich Gifographics
Done right, informative and entertaining gifographics can put your brand in the limelight, improve your communication with your audience, and give wings to your social media marketing strategy by encouraging shares, comments and any other type of feedback.
In November this year, we put the gifographic to a test and created our own, A Guide To Writing & Optimizing Great SEO Content (Gifographic). It took us a month overall: one week to brainstorm and write the content together, another day for the staff to review, and one full week for our designers to put together all the visual and moving parts. Overall, it got about 200 percent more shares than our normal blog posts get, and several comments.
The investment was certainly worth it, for us.
3 Steps for Fundamental Creation of Your Gifographic
So, the next burning question on this topic: how exactly do you create awesome gifographics? Here are three basic steps:
1. Make a Storyboard. Start by creating a script based on the info that you wish to incorporate and the frames that you want to make.
2. Create the Draft of a Basic Infographic. Next, create a first version of an infographic to picture how things will eventually come together. Canva is a great visual tool that even has infographic layouts pre-made to play with.
3. Save Frames Individually, Load Images and Display Frames. Save every single frame as an individual numbered image; then load all images into the gifographic stack, and display your frames. Select the most suitable animation speed for your project, and save it. Now, this isn’t as easily done as said, so I stuck with my design team who also knew animation. I suggest you do the same, to get the best results.
Don’t forget to share your beautiful creation on different platforms, including Pinterest, which is heaven for gifographic curation.
5 Other Effective Social Media-Friendly Content Types to Create in 2016
In 2016, gifographics are still seen as a rarity, which means you have ample room to create your own—it’s another great avenue to prove you’re a thought leader and groundbreaking content creator.
On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that you should invest all your time and energy in innovative visual elements and ignore the traditional ones that still do a great job at getting you noticed.
Did you know that 90 percent of the overall amount of information that reaches our brains is visual? At the same time, it seems that presentations that contain a plethora of well-balanced visual aids are up to 43 percent more compelling and persuasive than the rest?
These numbers suggest the fact that any content marketing campaign developed to boost engagement and support your rapid growth should benefit from interesting, original visual elements added to reflect your uniqueness and offer you a competitive advantage.
Aside from gifographics, here are five other key visual aids that you should create and distribute in 2016 to set yourself apart with ease and facilitate a more successful communication with your audience.
1. Infographics. Inforgraphics are exceptional tools that you could make use of to sum up a rather complex message based on endless strings of numbers extracted from relevant industry stats. Infographics give you the perfect opportunity to put your succinct information on full display after collating it into a palatable, digestible visual display designed to stimulate the interest and curiosity of your readers.
To reach their target and offer you the expected results, your infographics should count on a perfect balance between layout, design and the quality of the information that you wish to offer to your readers. Just remember to distribute only quality, accurate information coming from trustworthy sources and do your best to achieve an ideal mix of fonts, shapes and colors to make your message stand out. Also, keep in mind that even the least interesting facts could benefit from the full attention of your readers, as long as they count on an amazing visual representation.
One infographic we put out in July of 2015 has picked up a lot of shares throughout the past month: How To Make Sure Your Brand Is Publishing High Quality Content (Infographic).
Tying into No. 2 below, we also syndicated it to SlideShare (uploaded as a PDF), where it reached “most popular” for the day there and was featured for roughly one to two hours on the home page. This infographic was one of our most actionable ones (the level was for any business owner wanting to increase the quality of their Web content), and I think that was the key to why it was one of our best-performing.
2. SlideShare Presentations. Presentations are no longer an element associated exclusively with more or less tedious boardroom meetings. At this point, SlideShare presentations are an exceptional ally for any business seeking a simple and effective method to inform, educate and entertain the targeted audience.
Presentations make it easier for you to dress up, pack and serve a larger amount of information, slide by slide. You can also upload other forms of media (infographics, whitepapers) to SlideShare as syndicated content.
Nonetheless, it goes without saying that even the amplest, data-rich presentation can preserve its appeal and superior entertainment value, as long as you create multiple slides, present your food for thought in an elegant, concise manner, adopt a tone of voice that resonates with your audience and stay consistent with key visual elements, such as colors, logos, fonts and borders.
3. Branded Images and Custom Drawings. Branded images and custom drawings are listed in broader category called “brand visuals.” These two handy elements allow you to reflect the uniqueness of your brand and make it recognizable on a larger level. While stock photography represents a simple and cost-effective method to add new visual cues to your articles or blog posts, in all honesty, first-hand, personalized, one-of-a-kind images that tell the story of your company, products, services and clients are the ones that could actually help you reflect your individuality and boost brand awareness.
Check out this custom drawing of Scheherazade, legendary queen and Arabian Nights storyteller heroine, that we had drawn for The Art of Storytelling: Is Your Story Worth Talking About?
This blog image has been widely used since by us quite successfully, as an image on Instagram, a tool in a Twitter chat conversation about visual imagery (it had a lot of retweets and favorites), and has had more than 100 shares on its own.
4. Memes. The term “meme” is not nearly as trendy and innovative as you may think it is. As a matter of fact, it was coined by Richard Dawkins almost four decades ago, in 1976. This concept refers to an idea, emotion, style or type of behavior that spreads from one individual to another within a community or culture. These days, most people associate memes with funny messages attributed to real or fictional characters such as The Overly Attached Girlfriend, Grumpy Cat or Jonathan Goldsmith as The Most Interesting Man in the World.
Aside from their obvious benefits (we can all agree that some memes are funny, catchy, shareable and totally relatable), memes give you a great opportunity to resonate with a younger audience, create a solid community around your brand, and tell memorable in-jokes about your niche, which may help you separate yourself from your competitors and make your brand cool. After all, a high-impact, original meme that can be traced back to your brand could go viral in a matter of seconds and offer you more than a few minutes of glory and power. Moreover, memes are extremely easy to make, given that you could use one or more free or almost free tools, like Quickmeme for instance, to create your own versions, using a wide range of templates.
5. Screenshots. Screenshots enable you to add a personal touch to your content and reflect its authenticity. Unlike other visual elements that could be linked to several other players operating in your industry (think stock photography), screenshots can help your prospects become more familiar with the characteristics of the products and services that you sell. Furthermore, as Kissmetrics suggests, screenshots are also a great option given that they support some of the claims that you may want to make in your content designed for sales enablement. In addition, you could also add and use screenshots as a tool to build trust and authority, by putting into the spotlight some of the most inspiring client reviews and testimonials that you have gathered so far.
Conclusion: Factors for Creating Awesome Imagery
This brings us to the next question: what are the factors that you should focus on when it comes to creating awesome branded images and custom drawings? As a recent blog post published by Hubspot indicates, one should apply the recipe for social media success to come up with awe-inspiring and 100 percent effective brand visuals.
This standard formula is based on a mix of elements, including:
- A consistent color scheme;
- Font pairings that are fully compatible with your brand image;
- Suitable filters and imagery;
- Social media templates added and followed to speed up the entire design process.
In a nutshell, you will need to select the most appropriate fonts and colors for your company and products, feature images in accordance with the message and visual elements that you have in mind, and add filters that portray your brand in the best light. I can tell you right now that a professional designer is going to help you best here. You won’t know what color palette jives the best with your brand logo colors, but a designer will. Save yourself from putting out crappy stuff by hiring a professional designer.
Use Quality Visuals to Increase Brand Engagement and Growth
These days, text-based content is clearly not the most effective weapon of seduction that you could count on to stay on the same page with your readers, boost brand awareness and stay competitive in your industry.
Don’t hesitate to create and incorporate attractive visual elements designed with your audience in mind, and remember that quality and consistency should be the main factors driving the process of visual content creation.
Julia McCoy is a writer and entrepreneur. She created three businesses and wrote a book at 16; at 20, she dropped out of nursing school to teach herself online writing and start Express Writers. Today, her content agency has more than 70 writers and thousands of worldwide clients. Julia hosts The Write Podcast and #ContentWritingChat, and is the bestselling author of So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.