Is Your Content Like Spinach? 8 Ways to Make it Taste Like Chocolate Cake

kid doesn't like spinach

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Posted: March 11, 2014 | Content Marketing

Is your content marketing like spinach?

In other words, is your information healthy, but unappealing? Does it provide one of the five essential content vitamins (product information, customer FAQs, how to’s, styling, and ratings and reviews) but still gets left untouched on marketers’ plates?

If your content isn’t being consumed, the problem may be that your information isn’t visually appealing to your target audience.

Humans are visual. We take in visual information 60,000 faster than text. In today’s connected world, your content marketing needs to stand out, integrate your 360° branding, and be consumable across social media platforms and devices. All of these qualities are part of your visual content marketing strategy.

Luckily for marketers, there are plenty of ways to give your content marketing a makeover, which you can explore in my new ebook with Marketo: Let’s Get Visual! Visual! Here’s a sneak peak at some of the ways to make your “spinach” taste like chocolate cake:

1. Photos

Photographs can be used either unaltered, or modified to augment your content. Since most mobile devices now come equipped with easy-to-use cameras and image enhancement apps, anyone can quickly take, edit, and share photographs.

  • Create social profiles on photo sharing sites. Is your brand on Instagram? Take advantage of Instagram, and other photography-focused social media sites to engage followers and spotlight your brand.
  • Add photos to your other social profiles. Sharing photos on Facebook and Twitter will increase engagement and sharing. You can also engage proactively by re-sharing photographs posted to your followers’ accounts — be sure to ask first! Take a look at Marketo’s Facebook page to see social photo sharing in action.
  • Use text to provide additional context. Don’t leave everything up to the caption — it’s just as simple to add a few lines of text inside of a photo. This is particularly useful on visual sites like Pinterest, where visitors are scrolling through hundreds of photos.
  • Feature photos on your blog posts. A compelling photograph will draw readers in.
  • Show your fun side with memes and photobombs. Try adding a funny caption to your photographs, especially if you can tap into a pre-existing meme (search for “Grumpy Cat meme” or “Willy Wonka meme” if you aren’t sure what we mean). Photobombs, in which other people/animals unexpectedly “bomb” your photograph, are also popular and easy to create.

2. Videos

Videos are increasingly filmed and consumed on mobile devices. But from a brand perspective, video quality matters. Content marketers can choose to broaden their offerings with high quality, professional videos (usually with a high price tag); “low budget” footage captured via a mobile device, computer, or camera; and/or enhanced slideshows or webinars augmented with audio.

  • Take videos of live events. This is a great way to turn a live event into a ready-made asset. Marketo recently filmed their electric Smart Car giveaway, which (with a little editing) created an awesome asset.
  • Create how-to and styling videos. How-to and styling videos explain to prospects and customers how to use your product, and put your product in context. These kinds of videos are also good for entertaining your prospects and pulling them in — the “Will It Blend?” videos are a great example.
  • Enhance blog posts. Peppering your company blog with videos creates visual variety, and encourages visitors to stick around.
  • Share videos on social media platforms. YouTube and SlideShare are the obvious channels, but you can also share videos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

3. Comics/cartoons

As simplified drawings with text, cartoons are a great way to make your point clearly and dynamically. Cartoons are easy to understand, often funny, and  highly shareable.

  • Use cartoons to simplify your message. If you wrote a lengthy ebook on a subject, why not boil down some key points in an easily digestible form?
  • Capture short attention spans. Not all of your potential readers have the time (or energy) to read a longer piece — especially during work hours. Give them a break with a short, funny cartoon.

4. Infographics

Infographics present complex information using a combination of images and text to simplify core concepts. More frequently used by B2B organizations, infographics add visual interest to dense material. Consumer marketing firms can use infographics to attract consumer attention and simplify complicated information, like warnings and instructions.

  • Streamline information for a broad audience. Use infographics to convey complex information simply and appealingly.
  • Incorporate infographics into your content offering to attract backlinks. Distribute your infographic widely to support your SEO strategy. Remember, quality counts — the better and more useful your infographic is, the more likely people will be to share it.

5. Visual notes

Often used to document the key concepts from live events, visual notes represent, summarize, and organize ideas to make information easier to digest and share. This visual format requires an individual who has the skills to transform presentations, in real time, with the appropriate tools.

  • Create visual notes during conferences and events. Visual notes help the entire audience map and make sense of a group session. Display the note after your session to keep the conversation alive.
  • Use visual note-taking to record brainstorm sessions. You don’t need a huge public event to create ideas worth recording — why not try visual note-taking at your next office brainstorm? Give your audience a peak at your company culture, and show your human side by sharing visual notes on social media platforms.

6. Presentations

While most presentations are intended for a live audience, you’ll get a bigger return on investment if you also post presentations online. To make presentations come alive without the aid of your charismatic presenter, your slides should be highly visual.

  • Share presentations on social media. SlideShare is an excellent (and very popular) choice for sharing your slide presentations.
  • Augment online presentations with additional text. While a live presentation calls for image-heavy slides and very little text, online presentations should have enough text that the information stands alone.
  • Promote the presentation in a related blog post. A blog post gives you space to provide additional information and context for readers. It’s also a great way to reach a bigger portion of your audience.

7. Ebooks

Because ebooks tend to convey fairly complex information, it’s essential that you incorporate plenty of visual elements. Encourage your audience to stay tuned-in with photographs, charts, and videos. You’ll also need to consider your ebook’s visual style – even if your ebook isn’t illustrated, you still need attractive fonts and layouts.

  • Incorporate a visual theme. As you write your ebooks, think about whether a visual theme could be incorporated into your narrative. If so, try to work that theme into the ebook’s language.
  • Break up information in a visually appealing way. Use checklists, callouts, bullet points, and multiple header sizes to facilitate comprehension.

8. Activity books

Get your audience to have fun with your content! Activity books encourage your audience to get involved, engaged, entertained, and educated. Activity books  aren’t created by very many companies — mostly because they require a lot of imagination — so if you do create one, it will stand out.

  • Target your activities. Go for a blend of purely fun activities, and activities that will educate your audience in the process. For example, you might include a word-matching game, which requires readers to understand relevant vocabulary.
  • Encourage sharing. Create puzzles and activities that can be completed as a group, to facilitate team-building. You should also encourage your audience to share their completed activities on social profiles, ideally under a single hashtag.

Incorporate visual content into your content marketing to prevent it from being like spinach — pushed aside, unconsumed, and forgotten. Even the best (or most basic) content can benefit from a visual boost.

These are just a few “recipe” ideas for transforming your spinach into chocolate cake. To learn more about visual content marketing, download our new ebook: Let’s Get Visual! Visual! How to Incorporate Visual Content  into Your Overall Strategy.

lets get visual cover

Related Resources

Heidi Cohen is Chief Content Officer at Actionable Marketing Guide, where she provides marketing insights on social media, content marketing, and mobile. She has built brands and businesses for clients like The New York Times Digital, Cendant's Cheap Tickets, The Economist, Bertelsmann’s Bookspan, Citibank, and Columbia House.

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Is your #contentmarketing spinach, or chocolate cake? Boost its visual appeal with @HeidiCohen's no-fail recipes

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