Embrace Visual Storytelling to Engage Your Audience More Deeply

You needn’t turn all your content into image-driven experiences, but here’s why and how to craft the right pieces with the right imagery.
Bright open eye on a screen

Adding a photo, even two, to an online post doesn’t constitute visual storytelling. Neither does crafting a series of frames for a Facebook Carousel.

So what is it? A high-quality visual expression of a story that educates, entertains and motivates audiences to take a specific action, says Manifest President Eric Goodstadt. He joined our chief creative officer, Sacha Reeb, on stage at Content Marketing World in Cleveland to share and discuss great visual storytelling.

Extensive use of visuals and animations is a great way to tell a story now because viewer attention is so scattershot. Marketers have only eight seconds to grab their intended audience’s attention, or so says the widely shared stat from a 2015 Microsoft study about media consumption. Research has shown that great visuals engage audiences more quickly and improve comprehension.

Let KPIs, Data and Budget Define Your Visual Storytelling Plan

The use of visual storytelling is not an all-or-nothing proposition. In fact, brands should be judicious in the content they select for such treatment, Goodstadt recommends. Although the selection often should align with a brand’s current initiatives, it also might make sense to take a text-rich piece of content that’s high performing and rev it up through visual storytelling.

There’s also the reality that crafting visual content experiences costs more. A company simply might not have the marketing budget to use complex visuals widely. Instead, it might have to choose a few select pieces of content.

The Role of Image Selection in Effective Visual Storytelling

The visuals chosen are equally important, notes Reeb. The best use of imagery will create tension and compel engagement, he says. It was clear in a video he shared of Simone Biles flying through a gymnastics routine flawlessly—while it entertained, it also educated by illustrating the difficulties of Biles’ feats.

It takes several disciplines working together to create multidimensional experiences, Reeb adds. At Manifest, we call these cross-discipline groupings “pods.” In most instances, they include a strategist, a journalist, a UX designer, an art director and a creative technologist.

Learn more about visual storytelling experiences and see five captivating examples in their full presentation from Content Marketing World: Visual Storytelling.

Opening Slide of Visual Storytelling deck


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