Visual Storytelling Success: Essential Principles of Social Media

November 6, 2014
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Once upon a time, in an internet far, far away, Facebook ruled the Kingdom of Social Media, but more visually friendly platforms are challenging the mighty King Zuckerberg’s rule. Although Mark’s vast army of followers is still much stronger than rivaling and more picturesque sites like Instagram and Pinterest, those up-and-coming platforms still have some powerful magic brewing.

According to new studies, Instagram grew by 23% in the latter part of 2013, while Facebook actually lost a small, but impactful 3% of their users. Pinterest showed a significant 6% rise and Reddit surprised many by showing a very impressive 13% growth.

You may have already know the tale of Facebook purchasing Instagram back in 2012 for a whopping one billion dollars, then keeping it as a stand-alone palace app to the social media tower. Facebook snatched up the popular swapper of photos before they became a real threat to their dominance on the social scene. We can easily see exactly how important this realm of visual storytelling is to social marketing success.

Image and Content and Blogging, OH MY!

Bloggers need to take special heed of these picturesque tales, by effectively posting on social sites, they can find a powerful voice on these platforms. Along with other successful strategies, utilizing great titles, excellent content and a strong conclusion, bloggers need an optimized, visually appealing image to capture the attention of their readers. Dorothy’s black-and-white perception of life in Kansas was more widely accepted in a full-color dream somewhere over the rainbow.

Here are a few other essential principles to include with your visual storytelling practices to engage your audience and grow readership. These real-life scenarios showcase how these popular brands gained even more respect and success.

1) AUTHENTICITY – Campaign for success

In their Campaign for Real Beauty, the Dove soap company kicked off a number of different marketing phases that successfully connected with women globally asking them to change their perceptions of beauty and self-worth. They authentically touched women all around the world, on an emotional level and further gained their trust.

More than a strategy, their authentic beauty campaign become a huge trend with women and this successful endeavor celebrated its tenth anniversary in January. Their overwhelmingly popular topics gained millions of followers. Their 2006 video Evolution went viral before viral was even a trend since YouTube itself was still an infant launching the year before in 2005. The controversial video showed a time-lapsed makeup session with a model ending with a trip to the photoshop lab.

They are challenging all of us to change the way we look at ourselves and avert the acceptance of airbrushed supermodels and celebrities that grace the covers of popular magazines that falsify the appearance of normality. The altered images of skinny and starved girls are not what should be considered beautiful in the eyes of today’s beholders.

Be real, this fantastical approach is far beyond the realistic view of our everyday life.

2) RELEVANCY – For a wholesome family

Honey Maid, a division of Nabisco and the purveyors of graham cracker snacks, launched a “wholesome” campaign specifically targeting the non-traditional family. They embrace those separated by divorce with their hashtag “#NotBroken” and accept other differential households, those who serve in the military and single parents.

Regardless of what your brand offers, there is an audience for everything. Honey Maid took took their marketing to the next level by targeting a very specific audience. Knowing who your target audience is will be the cornerstone of content creation.

3) SENSORY – Starbucks shares shots

With over thirty million followers, the coffee chain giant Starbucks is ruling Instagram. At first, they utilized the photo-sharing platform to post simple, but elegant images of the beverages and goodies they offered. Using the tagline, “Inspiring and nurturing the human spirit — one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time,” they gained communal support and encouraged others in the community to share their own experiences with the brand.

Soon after their Instagram started to pick up steam (no pun intended!), they began to integrate other social networks into their marketing strategies as well. Utilizing the hashtag “#HowWeMet” on Twitter and “#JoinMeForCoffee” on YouTube, they further encouraged customers and coffee enthusiasts alike to follow their brand.

Starbucks began by simply posting pretty pictures of their products on Instagram. By adding an effective inspirational message, they tied directly into a new and different YouTube following. With some of their Twitter hashtag topics visible in their photos on Instagram, this is an excellent example of a very successful cross channel approach.

No matter where you are engaging on social media, use these tips to get the most out of your visual storytelling strategy.


Dave Landry Jr. is a personal finance adviser and business journalist who often covers the value of social media communications and how it impacts various industries. His writing also covers telecommunications, business globalization and online marketing. Follow him on Twitter to see more of his work.



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