Video Tips: Even B2B Marketers Can Tell A Story

As storytelling becomes more and more part of marketing, another trend is coming into focus: Brands are becoming more visual. They’re using emerging image-driven networks such as Pinterest and Instagram, and they’re making compelling visual updates to venerable platforms such as Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.

Businesses that aren’t ready for this visual revolution will get left behind.

How can you prepare your brand to benefit from the power of visual content such as photos, slides, info-graphics, cartoons, and more? What kind of content works best for telling a visual story that packs a punch? And how can inherently boring organizations (we’re looking at you, B2B!) create compelling visual content?

Here are some ideas for including the visual opportunity for brands, and how they should embrace it.

Recent data from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute found that B2B marketers’ chief concern is to produce enough content to attract customers. Brand-builders need to better understand how all newer forms of content, especially visual forms, can help them both produce enough content and differentiate themselves in a sea of sameness.

New Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms are (in part) driving this visual revolution:

Google+. In many ways, the visual revolution launched in the summer of 2011 when Google launched its own social channel, offering up plenty of eye candy, including plentiful white space, larger photos, post thumbnails, avatars, and the very first version of what we now call cover photos.

Pinterest. Around this same time, Pinterest launched its unique and addictive visual platform that quickly skyrocketed, becoming one of the top social sites. Marketers took notice: For some brands, referring links from Pinterest bought more visitors to their sites than Facebook and Twitter—and more users liked/followed those brands on Pinterest than they did on Facebook and Twitter.

Instagram. This fun photo-sharing network wasn’t far behind, racking up honors such as App Store App-of-the-Year and reaching user benchmarks faster than other networks, and, of course, being acquired by…

Facebook. In addition to adding Instagram to its portfolio, Facebook has spent the last year releasing many new visual features, including (more in-line with Google+) cover photos, larger photos, post thumbnails, and avatars—and its Timeline update, which boosted engagement via brand history and fun photo milestones. They even allow VIDEO posting now, too!

Twitter. For its part, Twitter got into the game in a different way by closing off their once wide-open API and shutting out third-party content, such as Instagram’s, from its fast-moving stream. Twitter quickly replaced those fun, visual snacks with (very) short-form video, via its own acquisition of video app Vine which plays in-stream and gives brands new storytelling opportunities.

Five Key Considerations

What do all those recent development mean for you and your brand? Brands must consider five key things when they think about telling their visual story across one or more of those platforms.

1. Brands have an unprecedented opportunity

We all are witnessing a new dawn in marketing, which is embracing content and story as its cornerstone. This visual revolution and the growth in new platforms give us not just new tools but a whole new opportunity to rethink the way we tell stories.

Marketing takeaway

Are you producing the content you’re producing by default (“whitepapers have always worked for us”), or are you experimenting with new platforms and new methods of storytelling? When in  doubt, consult a professional video house– it is OUR JOB to know the answers you seek.

2. Brands have an imperative to engage

Along with the opportunity, you have an imperative to engage. Consider how your visual content can extend your brand story—and how it can help you differentiate. How might your visual story help you stand out? In a world where every brand is a publisher, you need to express your inherent uniqueness  (USP) using every tool in your tool shed. Visuals can help you differentiate who you are, what makes you unique, and why you are different.

Marketing takeaway

Images and graphics can help you project depth to your brand’s character—perhaps a lighter side or a behind-the-scenes snapshot—as well as offer you an opportunity to tell your story in a way that helps you stand out from the crowd of competitors. Again, a professional video house can help you with ideas, trends and suggestions to make your videos engage, differentiate and stand out. Just ask!

3. The best content—visual and otherwise—is content worth sharing

What can you create that brings your prospects and customers into your story—that makes your story their own?

Marketing takeaway

Use visual channels as an opportunity to involve your prospects and customers in your story. Give them a change to tell your story for you. Hashtags on visual channels can help connect offline and with online.

4. Be a Content Brand not a brand with content

What that means is that you should tell your story strategically across channels, to ensure a cohesive and consistent message.

Marketing takeaway

Even a small brand can have greater impact by acting like a content brand, and not a brand with random acts of content.

5. Show how your product lives in the world

Show how you help the people you are trying to reach, and use your visual content to give your audience better insight into your brand.

Marketing takeaway

Use visual channels to tell stories, not just showcase the things people already know. Even if you are a technology company, your story is always about people whose lives your technology improves.

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So now it’s your turn to execute on a bit of your own inspiration. How might you tell your visual story? What other examples have you seen and loved? Leave a comment below and as always, I am glad to talk via phone, or in person and offer suggestions and tips for you. Just give me a call or drop me an email.


Excerpts from a presentation by  Ann Handley, Nick Westergaard

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