As a writer, words matter. When words are connected, they deliver ideas, information and inspiration. They educate, entertain and engage.
For writers, pictures (photos, graphics, etc.) are the cherry on the top of the sundae. They provide sizzle and eye-candy so their words are even more impactful.
In today’s fast-moving world, however, it is becoming apparent that words are less important. Time-strapped people want information instantly. They don’t want to work to get information or waste time to digest it. For a wordsmith, it is disconcerting but it is the new world of communications.
It explains why visual storytelling has so much momentum and appeal. The ability to quickly and effectively deliver information is powerful in an ADD world. Using a photo, graphic, infographic or video to connect with consumers makes a huge competitive difference. If a brand creates user-friendly content, it is easier for consumers to explore and embrace ideas and products.
As a marketer, visual storytelling is more important part of the mix. In many respects, words are the supporting actors to visuals. Words provide context but they are no longer the stars of the show. It is not that people don’t like words; It is that visuals deliver instant gratification.
As someone who spends a lot on personal branding, I have been actively exploring visual storytelling. I have started to make videos but I’m really excited about Instagram. I know what you are thinking: Mark, Instagram has been around for a few years. What took you so long to jump on the bandwagon?
That is true. It makes the wordsmith in me feel like a digital dinosaur.
But sometimes, it takes time for a new platform to click. For years, I’ve been diligently blogging for thought leadership and exploring new ideas and trends. I’m talking about thousands of posts. It has been my primary marketing tool. I have dabbled with Facebook but I don’t spend much time on it. I also used Tumblr and Pinterest to varying degrees.
My embrace of Instagram has been slow and steady. Initially, I got an Instagram account because I needed to see how it fit into the digital landscape. Over time, I started to post some photos. Then, I started to post photos on a regular basis. And now, it’s part of my day-to-day digital world.
So why the fascination with Instagram? For one, it’s a lot easier than writing blog posts. You see something interesting, take a photo and post it on Instagram, as well as Twitter or Facebook if needed.
More important, Instagram has provided two important elements: the freedom to be more creative and the ability to show some personality.
I’m not a good photographer but I like taking photos. There are so many interesting things to see and experience, and smartphones have made them so easy to capture and share.
When I’m sharing photos, I’m also pulling back the curtain on myself and my interests (e.g. hockey, eating, bicycling in alleys, my dog). To be honest, it is not something that I have done much on social media. My blog is focused on my consulting business and I don’t post photos of my family on Facebook.
But Instagram has let me be more personal online. It gives people a sense of my life (if they’re interested!). It’s a great way to connect with friends and family, and it shows potential customers that there is a person behind the consulting business. People buy products and services from people so it’s healthy to showcase your personality.
For marketers exploring visual storytelling, Instagram is an easy way to personally experience how storytelling and marketing are evolving. As marketers, we’re always looking for new ways to connect and engage. It is my belief that visual storytelling is going to become red-hot, if isn’t already. As someone who spends a lot of time writing and crafting text, it’s a whole new world.
How are you using visual storytelling? What kind of stories and services are you using to do it?
More: In Inc., John White looks at why brands and individuals need to learn how to use Instagram.
I’ve worked with dozens of startups and fast-growing companies looking to accelerate their marketing. My services are driven by frameworks and processes to create messaging, strategic plans and content. If you want marketing that makes a difference, let’s talk. If you are looking for hand-picked startup content, subscribe to my weekly newsletter.