The numbers are staggering – marketers are investing heavily in visual content:

  • 74% of marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing – Social Media Examiner
  • 93% of senior marketers say photography is either important or critical to their overall marketing strategies – CMO Council
  • Video will account for 80% of all internet traffic by 2019 – Cisco

How do you produce visual content and use it to catch your audience’s attention? Earlier this year, I conducted a webinar on the topic. Now, I share with you the 16 tips your content marketing team needs to try.

1. Always use a visual

Now, this may seem like an obvious tip, but it needs to be reinforced. It’s crucial that your team is communicating visually across platforms.

Does your team have a policy to always include a visual on Facebook or Twitter? Posts with images get 2.3 times more engagement on Facebook.

Buffer found that its tweets with images were retweeted 2.5 times more than non-image tweets.

The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens have a mandated policy to include an image in a Facebook post, according to Digital Media Manager Erin Herbert. When the team applied this visual-first approach across all its digital channels, engagement increased across the board.


When the team redesigned the Ravens website to put photos and videos in the spotlight, it saw a 23% increase in time spent on the home page, and a 2.4% increase in users clicking to watch a video or view a photo gallery.

Do an audit of your website, social media channels, emails, apps, and more, and make sure you’re using photos and videos to catch and retain your fans’ attention.

2. Start with a creative pitch

Now that you’re focused on using visual content, how can you make sure that content stands out? Start with an irresistible idea.

The Visit Norway team challenged several agencies to pitch a creative idea for a summer campaign. One pitch caught its attention from the start: #SheepWithAView, the chance to see Norway through the eyes of its roaming sheep.

Throughout the production and rollout of the campaign, the creative team stayed true to the simple, quirky concept. As a viewer, you could meet a sheep on Instagram, click to a landing page to watch a video about the sheep’s life, and fall down a rabbit hole of similar content.

The campaign went viral, racking up 87 million impressions and a million engagements on social media between June 25 and August 13, according to Beate Gran, digital media manager for Visit Norway New York office.

3. Build a consistent visual identity across platforms

The strongest brands have a consistent visual identity. When you build your brand guidelines, include a photography section that outlines your photography style, key photo characteristics, and guidelines on image use on social media and your website. Include examples so everyone is on the same page.


Pandora recently hired its first in-house photographer and digital asset manager, Michael Baca. While Michael shoots most of the brand’s custom photography, he also sources stock photos and hires freelance photographers. No matter the image source, his goal is to create a consistent look and feel across platforms.

We want any photography that’s on social, in our marketing, to look like it came from the same camera. It’s consistent, it’s coherent, it’s speaking the same language. Michael Baca

Make sure your photographers, videographers, designers, and marketers are all on the same page about your brand’s visual guidelines and standards so your audience has a coherent, familiar experience with your content.

4. Connect with a value

As Simon Sinek says in his TED Talk, “It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it.”

Customers don’t connect with products or services, they connect with a brand’s values.

Red Bull sets a fantastic example of how to connect with a value through visual storytelling. Rather than making videos about energy drinks, Red Bull makes videos about energy. They know what their customers care about, and they produce content with those values at the core.

What do your customers care about? What makes them tick? Creating a video that tells that story will get more attention than a video about your product.

5. Source gorgeous photography

Do you know how to think more like a photo editor than a marketer? The right photo will engage your audience better than just any photo.

Hiring a professional photographer can help you tell a more accurate and compelling story. The design team at Applegate Natural & Organic Meats draws a direct line from sharing professional photography on social media to sales.

People will see the recipe and say, ‘oh that looks delicious,’ and they’ll go out and buy our products. – Holly Sellner, graphic designer for Applegate

Plan ahead. Make sourcing high-quality photography a priority. Otherwise, you might find yourself picking a boring stock photo the day you need to publish your content.

6. Get started with video

There’s no denying it – video content is capturing everyone’s attention. Your team has no excuse not to focus on video.

Wherever you are, go with it. You can start shooting short videos for social media with your iPhone or step up your video production by setting up an in-house video studio.

Here are three examples to inspire you:

  • Minnesota Vikings’ short, snackable videos on Instagram, better known as “Vinekings” (the series started on Vine)

7. Geek out on GIFs

The Graphics Interchange Format was introduced in the 1980s, and now – lucky for us – we are experiencing a GIF renaissance.

The only thing better than finding your perfect getaway home, is arriving there. #bookingyeah

— (@bookingcom) November 3, 2016

GIFs are great for sharing fun, light-hearted content. Twitter has made it easy to add GIFs to your tweets as well as your replies, with a built-in GIF option that lets you choose a prepopulated GIF around phrases like “mic drop” and “no.”


You can also use Giphy Capture or Adobe Photoshop to create your own GIFs. You can repurpose video clips, share teasers for upcoming content,…