Associations and Visual Storytelling

12 Jan Associations and Visual Storytelling

While the term “visual storytelling” is relatively new, humans have been using illustrations, photographs, infographics, and videos to communicate for ages. Marketing professionals have long-since known that visual stories are more impactful than writing, and the tremendous popularity of visual social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Vine, Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube further supports this view. Consider that, for example, Facebook posts with photos account for 87% of interactions. Or that, according to the Nielsen Norman Group, a leader in user experience research, people only read about 20% of text on a website. Eye-tracking research suggests people will look at relevant images for extended periods of time (but only if the image is relevant).

So how can associations make use of visual storytelling in ways that recruit, engage, advertise, and advocate? Here are a handful of tips for using visual narratives in 2016 and 2017:

  • Authenticity, as always, is crucial. Your visual story, whether video, photograph, infographic, or illustration, is more successful if it feels sincere and relatable. Use powerful testimonials, for example, to demonstrate your organization’s mission. Show, don’t tell.
  • Know that it isn’t too late to start now. Go back and add relevant images to old blog posts if you can. Moving forward, think about visual storytelling as part of the creative process earlier on. In other words, build text around your visuals instead of doing it the other way around.
  • Find the “story” in your data. Try not to publish numbers but, rather, think of ways to incorporate colorful infographics. Your members are far more likely to engage with and share information that way.
  • Interactive storytelling and virtual reality experiences are the wave of the future. Multi-sensory media makes use of things like sound, 360 degree 3D environments, and performance to allow audiences to fully immerse themselves in a narrative. Wearable devices are on the rise, too. How might your organization adapt aspects of newer technology in meaningful ways?
  • It’s all about the experience. Rolf Jensen of the Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies writes, “The task of marketers today is no longer to sell the drill, nor hole in the wall, but to sell the experience of making that hole or the lifestyle the hole enables us to.”
  • Your visual story should be compelling and interesting and if it’s not, well, go back to the drawing board.

How does your organization make use of visual storytelling?