Visual Content Promotions: 5 Lessons To Succeed (Examples)

Is Your Visual Content Promotion A Social Media Snore?

Toot Your Own Horn-Visual Content PromotionYou know you’re in trouble when digital B2B media gets more social media love than your comedy movie promotion.

Get Vince Vaughn to star in your next business presentation. Sounds like something that might get your boss’s attention or your friends?

It’s what Fox Twentieth Century Fox and Getty Images hoped.

They created a set of stock business photos spotlighting Vince Vaughn and the other actors to promote Unfinished Business, a movie about a business trip that goes terribly wrong. To get an idea about the movie, here’s the video trailer.

Photos and videos are short concise visual social currency. It’s how we communicate with family, friends and the public on social media platforms with spontaneous images captured with a few fast swipes on our ever-present smartphones.

While in most cases, stock photos might be a problem, It seemed like a great promotional idea since for the movie Unfinished Business.

  • Use of stock photos works perfectly with the movie’s theme of business gone wrong. By their nature, stock photos are a low cost content alternative that’s anything but impromptu and natural. They present actors in posed stereotype situations and clichés that are photoshopped to death.

Visual Content Promotion-Unfinished Business Stock Photo PageYet, ironically, AdWeek, a traditional print magazine turned digital media, gained more social media cred than the promotion for its article, Vince Vaughn and Co-stars Pose for Idiotic Stock Photos You Can Have for Free.

As of this writing, AdWeek has hundreds of thousands of social shares and hundreds of comments (many about legal rights) while there’s none on the promotion’s landing page. Visual Content Promotion-AdWeek

Just because you’re not in the movie business doesn’t mean that you can’t steal this great visual content idea. Here’s the actionable content marketing twist:

Leverage the power of the images you can use.


 5 Visual content promotion lessons

Here are 5 visual content promotion lessons you can apply to your business, whether it’s B2B or B2C. Toot Your Own Horn-Visual Content Promotion

1. Use photographs of real people whenever possible.

The Unfinished Business promotion doctored bad stock photos to include the movie’s stars. They didn’t even touch up Vince Vaughn’s unshaven face like a real stock photo would.

They’re promoting a movie that by its nature has outtakes left on the cutting room floor, which happens to be how stock photography came into being. Why not use the real outtakes?

Actionable Visual Content Marketing Lessons:

  • Ask your employees, customers and social media followers to use their snapshots. Of course, you have to get their permission to use the images.
  • Take additional footage and shots you can use in related content and social media when creating visual content, videos and live events.

Here are 3 more tips to make your photographs more memorable.

2. Allow broad usage.

“These photographs are for editorial use only,” a clause probably included by an overzealous member of the legal team. While protecting your intellectual property rights is important, in this case, it was the wrong approach.

The goal of these stock images is to get wide usage and become a business meme. Let them go wild and skip the commercial rights.

Actionable Visual Content Marketing Lesson:

  • Create content with broad usage rights. Take a page from the free photo sites. Let people use them. If I was a photographer seeking to build my reputation, I’d start a free photography site and ask for a link back in return for the images.

3. Remove the barriers to getting the photographs.

While I appreciate the desire to capture email addresses, in this case the objective is to get the stock images used by the most people possible.

Instead of helping to spread the images, the process stops visitors with a watermarked image followed by a gated, one size fits all landing page that forces them to create an account.

Get rid of the scary language and watermarking.

Visual Content Lesson- First Landing page

Once you click on the “Free download” button, here’s the even less inviting page you get. It makes me wonder whether anyone had the patience to get the images this way. I didn’t. Visual Content Promotion- Second Landing Page

Actionable Visual Content Marketing Lesson:

  • Understand your promotion’s objectives. The goal should have been to give these images wings to be used in real business presentations so that they appeared on Slideshare and elsewhere.
  • Eliminate steps to action. Understand that every question and new page load hurts your results. Beyond the writers contacted by the PR team, I wonder if they had 100 participants.

4. Involve participants.

Get people to share their finished work using your visual content assets. If your product isn’t well liked, I wouldn’t recommend this because there are examples of car companies that opened up this type of promotion and received content that was very negative about the brand.

Ironically, to promote the movie, a Slideshare account was created but it doesn’t have any presentations using their stock photos. None of the presentations hits a nerve on Slideshare because no presentation reached 10,000 views. Here’s  area where contact information could be collected.  (Here are tips for using Slideshare.)Unfinished Business  Presentations on SlideShare Unfinished Business The Movie’s Presentations on SlideShare

Actionable Visual Content Marketing Lessons:

  • Maintain the right to curate user generated content (UGC). Here’s where you can include the legalese about rights, ownership, brand presentation and taste level.
  • Offer prizes for the best use of the stock photos. Movie related items and DVDs come to mind. Why not get an image firm involved?

5. Encourage participants to share the content.

This should be a social media no-brainer. Participants have more credibility than the stock photos.

AdWeek allows readers to print out or email the article as well as social shares, which research has shown is one of the top 5 ways people share content. It’s particularly important for business folks.

Actionable Visual Content Marketing Lesson:

  • Offer people the opportunity to send emails or social media content using the images. Again, reduce the friction between the viewer and the action you want them to take.
  • Give them some ideas. Take away the fear of failure. Put up a set of emails so that all they have to do is add an address.

Download your content marketing checklist


9 Ways to use visual content to maximize business success (with examples)

Here are 9 ways to work social media magic with photographs.

1. Take great photographs of your products.

Make your products feel real to viewers. Your goal is to make your prospects picture themselves using your products. Product Detail Photograph-Target-Pinterest

2. Spotlight the details.

Writers are great at selecting the key detail that makes a character real. Use photographs to do the same for your products. Wedding photographers are masters at choosing a few small details, like the bride’s shoes. What a great (and low cost) idea…love note on your shoe.Great Gatsby Wedding Inspiration

3. Put your products into context for your target audience.

Don’t assume that your prospects are able to visualize your product in their lives. Give them options. Target Product In Context-Pinterest

4. Answer your customers’ questions.

Prospects don’t buy until you answer all of their questions. It’s the Marcus Sheridan, “They ask, you answer” approach. We agree—it’s one of the 5 basic types of content potential customers actively seek pre-purchase. Here’s an example from Marcus Sheridan’s River Pools and Spa website explaining pool designs.Pool Shapes-Explain your product

5. Show your customers how to use your products.

Give prospects and customers step-by-step images so that they can rapidly grasp what they need to do. Remember people take in images 60,000 times faster than text. Kraft Foods does a great job of showing you photos of each step in the recipe. Show Me How Visual Content

6. Get your employees and customers into the picture.

Skip the stock photos. Show real people using your product. Make them your heros and spokepeople. People relate to people. Jesse Noyes shows how a business should use visual content on LinkedIn. Note that his header photograph is with his Kapost team. It says a lot without ever mentioning the words team player. Jesse Noyes and Kapost LinkedIn

7. Tell stories with your photos.

As Chip and Dan Heath pointed out in their book, Made To Stick, people remember stories not ideas. Think of each photograph as telling an entire story. Alternatively use a set of images to relate the store.Visual Content Tells A Story - JetBlue Tweet

8. Add emotion to your products.

Don’t let your products just sit on your digital shelf. Move your target audience to action by making them feel strongly about your offering. Check out how Mizzou gets their alumni feeling strong about their school with photos of their dogs. Visual Content Adds Emotion-Mizzzou

9. Show your product’s benefits.

This is a visual spin on the show don’t tell. People buy products based on whether it meets their needs. Show how your products can make your prospects’ lives better.

Download your content marketing checklist

Visual content is a critical element of your content marketing plans. It’s fast and easy-to-consume making it important for simplifying the complex ideas in your offering.

Wherever possible, use it to pull prospects and social media followers into your information. Don’t forget to incorporate your brand so that it’s recognizable regardless of where it appears. (BTW–here are some tips for re-imagining your brand in your visual content.)

What has your experience been using visual content to promote your products and services?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

P.S. Don’t forget to Download your content marketing checklist



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