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Visual is the new headline, so why, in b2b marketing, is it often the last thing we think of?

If you’ve had the chance to read any of Linkedin’s excellent guides on #content engagement, or followed their #BestofCP awards, you’ll know their mantra: ‘visual is the new headline’.

The importance of imagery when selling a story

OK, this maybe not be new. Anyone like me who harks from a PR and comms background will have had the importance of imagery when selling a story drummed into them from an early age. And whilst ‘selling a story’ might sound a bit old school, don’t forget that every time you post something on #Linkedin or any other social media platform, that’s essentially what you’re doing. So, why is imagery often the last thing we think of when planning content, if at all?

Collectively we invest a lot of time with fee-earners on thought leadership, blogs or other content, we plan and pore over word. Once we’re happy with the words we might give our creative colleagues in design a call. What about an infographic or some data visualisation to use on social media? If we’re really lucky, they might have time. But more often than not, when the pdf is being designed (maybe somewhere offshore) there’ll be some nice stock-type images pulled down from your brand library. Not offensive, but not really that engaging. And certainly not stand-out.

So, what are the practical things you can do to increase engagement with your content, on social and in any other form?

  1. Engage with your design colleagues from the start, consult with them, make them part of the process, help them visualise the bigger picture and what you’re trying to achieve. They’ll probably be happy you asked, because there’s nothing worse than being hauled in at the last minute to design a pdf
  2. If you want to stand out, check out your competition before you start – how are you going to make them look boring? How will your message stand out? How can relevant imagery enhance this?
  3. Get inspiration from outside. You could do worse than Linkedin’s guides, for example, in Linkedin’s #BestofCP Deloitte gets a special mention for their use of imagery on their Linkedin Company Page, others for their consistency
  4. Test and use different imagery and colours and see what works best. Don’t be afraid to experiment. There’s some great pointers on testing here: Five A/B Testing Ideas from the LinkedIn Marketing Vault
  5. Be prepared to evolve and change, and get your stakeholders thinking the same way too. Tell them you are going to test and change, and be more dynamic in your approach. Show them other good examples, help them see what you are trying to achieve
  6. Think ‘as one’ – whether you are encouraging people to stay on platform, or redirecting them from Linkedin to your website, make sure all your elements look joined up, from contact pages to social media posts to website pages (the bigger and more siloed your organisation, the harder this can be). If your fee earner has authored a blog, why not share imagery to help them create a striking post on their own Linkedin profile?
  7. Most of all be a bit brave, have a bit of fun with it, push the boundaries!

Angela Brown is the founder of marketing and communications consultancy, Meteoric. She works with clients to help create, enhance and manage their Linkedin presence to attract and interact with their target audience.

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