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The Real and Underrated Value of Visual Content Curation

One of the biggest challenges that content marketers face is creating visual content. Visual design is a specialized field requiring the tools and skills of an artist to communicate viscerally what cannot be expressed through words. The dilemma is this : how can content creators supplement their textual content with attractive images without any experience with design? The solution is curation.

How does visual content curation work?

Curation involves finding great content as opposed to creating it from scratch. As a curator, you’re the funnel that distills quality content from authoritative sources to serve it to customers. You acknowledge and link out to sources, and add your own commentary to provide readers a broader perspective.

The visual content curation process is easier as you only focus on gathering relevant images to tell a story, make a point, offer up as evidence, or reinforce the written word. The visual content you can curate from third-party sources include:

  • Professional photographs from copyright free image repositories/stock photo galleries. Example : Pixabay, Flickr and Pexels. Terms of commercial use are indicated, and some may require you to attribute the original creator.
  • Screen-shots from websites can be legally published to articles or blogs discussing the content of those images. For more information on how they are covered under ‘fair use’, read this article.
  • GIFs and animated stickers from GIPHY or Gif Bin are entertaining and dynamic. They break the monotony of text in long-form blog posts, and instantly grab attention on social media pages.
  • Free quote cards on Pinterest available for saving to file, sharing or printing.
  • Data visualizations – graphs, pie charts, maps and diagrams – that communicate key facts and data quickly, clearly and easily. If you’re using them from a company’s website, proper attribution is necessary.
  • You can also create visual interest by adding quotes – customer testimonials or expert advice – in blog or social media posts. This task can intersect with influencer outreach or cross-promotions, where you request quotes from authoritative voices in your niche who have an established social media presence. It is also a good opportunity to shine the spotlight on your loyal customers.

Content curation can save you the time you would have otherwise spent writing and iterating an article to share on social media. To make the process even more efficient, consider a social media account management app that schedules your posts ahead of time. If you’ve determined the best times to post to Facebook or Twitter (when most of your audience is active on these networks), scheduling can boost views and engagement in a meaningful way.

What difference can visual content make to your marketing efforts?

65% of the population comprises of visual learners. The human attention span is getting shorter. Show, don’t tell. Conventional wisdom prompts us to integrate visuals into communications so audiences can effectively absorb and retain messages. You cannot do away entirely with this format, and need it more than ever before.

Key visual content marketing statistics:

  1. Colored visuals increase viewers’ enthusiasm to read a piece of content by up to 80% – Xerox
  2. Content accompanied by relevant images gets 94% more views than that without relevant images – Kissmetrics
  3. When content is paired with images, 65% of the message/information is retained three days later; in contrast, just 10% of the information is retained in the absence of an image – Lifelearn
  4. Articles with images added every 75-100 words get twice the number of social shares than those with fewer images – BuzzSumo
  5. Videos are another means of depicting visually through movement and/or sound what cannot be explicitly or more effectively communicated via words. Shoppers who view product/marketing video are 1.8 times more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t watch the video – Adobe

You may have brilliant writers on your team. But if you’re averse to creating blog or social media content that fixates on words and has sparse visuals, your engagement rate may suffer.

Tips on using curated visuals

There are a number of ways in which you can incorporate the visuals you curate from various sources. Here’s a look at a few:

Listicle: This short-form writing style popularized by BuzzFeed is a huge hit with internet users. A listicle focuses on conveying the idea (expressed in no more than two to three lines) visually to generate high impact and a healthy number of comments and shares. You can incorporate 5-10 images or a mix of images and GIFs, or just GIFs – depending on the type of content and keeping loading times and other factors in mind.

Promote design professionals: One tactic you can explore is inviting up-and-coming design professionals to submit images in return for promoting them on your site or social media pages. Be sure to include new design firms to your list and check out their website and portfolio before making your offer.

Get your audience to help out: Once you’ve actively started using visual content, you can turn to your audience for inspiration. Announce a competition targeting the design-savvy segment of your audience to submit images that meet your creative brief. An attractive prize can sweeten the deal and attract those who’re in it for more than just the free publicity.

Dig into your own archive: Look for compelling visuals or quotes from previously created content for reuse. They don’t have to be relevant to the topics you will be covering in your latest content calendar. You can highlight images that accompanied the most shared/popular or most commented posts or those that featured in a media outlet. This is one way of reinforcing your industry knowledge and reputation.

Create how-to posts and tutorials: Curated visuals can enhance the impact and entertainment value of tutorials and how-to articles.

The rules of reader engagement have changed. Skimmable content with images, numbers, headers and bulleting is widely being leveraged by content marketers. Even news media sites are increasingly employing images, short paragraphs, bulleted lists and screenshots to help readers more easily digest various aspects of the story. Visual content curation definitely has a place in your marketing efforts, regardless of the type of product/service you sell or your brand image.