By Michele Linn published July 6, 2012

Got (or Need) Visuals? Expert Views on How to Adjust Your Content Strategy

You know what’s “hot” in content marketing? It isn’t straight-up content! People love — and share — images, so marketers are trying to incorporate more visuals into their content marketing plans.

This week, our Content Marketing World speakers answer the question, “With the popularity of apps like Pinterest and Instagram, how have you adjusted your content strategy (or the advice you give to clients) to incorporate visual content?

The popularity of visually based content has given rise to social media sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and Path. Facebook and Google+ also allow for visually stimulating content. Our guideline is that every content piece should have a relevant image that is shareable. Curating visually relevant content from sites like Pinterest and Instagram is easy and effective at brand building. The challenge is to always have a visual appeal with every piece of content. A well written blog post is okay. A well written blog post with great, relevant images is much better.Bernie Borges (@berniebay)


I would flip-flop this question. Frankly, it’s the importance of visual content that gave rise to Instagram and Pinterest. If a brand isn’t investing in visual content, the popularity of these channels should convince them of its importance. Great design finds a way to spread.Joe Chernov (@jchernov)


Photographs are white hot this year. Use photographs as content in these three ways:

  1. Integrate photographs into your content. Add photographs to your text content, whether it’s your website, blog, or other communications. For online content, don’t forget to associate relevant search keyword text.
  2. Provide interesting photographs prospects, customers and the public want to share. Post photographs that have emotional appeal that others want to share or use in their content.
  3. Curate customers’ photographs. Ask readers to submit their photographs related to your product. It can be literal and show your brand or it can be a related topic.

Heidi Cohen (@HeidiCohen)


Apps like Instagram have made high-quality, artistically-stylized, imagery and photography accessible to anyone. It’s also easier than ever to create a consistently formatted image that you or your web designers can build around. We’ve taken this idea so far that every image on our website is an Instagram image. That’s right, every person in our office is armed with a cell phone and Instagram. Their images are intertwined in our posts and go a long way in promoting what we’re working on and thinking about. Creating a visual style that embodies our no nonsense approach to creating visual content that extends our brand. Give it a try — start using an Instagram image in every single blog post, it’s a low-barrier way to create consistently formatted, compelling imagery that tells your brand story.- Andrew Davis (@tpldrew)


While we haven’t adjusted our content strategy drastically, we have been focusing a bit more on thinking how we can make our content more visual in general. For example, we are thinking more about creating infographics in addition to reports and we are focusing on small steps such as ensuring every piece of content we create has a strong visual component. Ultimately both platforms grant the opportunity to have a little fun and showcase your brand’s personality, so we are starting to focus on taking and sharing pictures to showcase that and we have created profiles on both platforms for that very reason.- Amanda Maksymiw (@amandamaks)


While the channels may evolve, the same approach applies to building sound content marketing strategies. The key is to know what your prospects and customers want to achieve, and then generate content that meets their goals. Understand how your audiences consume information, and then choose the tools that speak to them. Blog posts, email newsletters, and video are the obvious choices, but consider the potential of press releases, original reports, case studies, white papers, eBooks, content curation, webinars, streaming video, photos, social-network status updates, podcasts, and infographics.- Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer)


Pinterest and Intstagram haven’t adjusted the way we advise clients regarding content strategy at all. They are simply new(er) properties that should fit into a broader content marketing strategy. If that strategy calls for the sharing and distribution of visual content, then we’ll certainly include recommendations on maximizing the impact of these properties. The strategy should drive social media property usage; the existence or growth of an individual social media property should not drive the strategy.- Michael Sweeney (@mjsweeney)


I wouldn’t say that I’m wholly committed to these, but I’ve been experimenting with both. For SAS Global Forum, the largest SAS user event of the year, Kirsten Hamstra, SAS Social Media Manager; Meg Crawford, Americas Marketing; and I ran a photo contest using Instagram. We wanted to encourage SAS users to post their conference photos on social media. To enter the contest, contestants needed to take the photo using Instagram and tweet it using the conference hashtag. We didn’t set a goal, but were surprised at the number of tweeted photos from an audience that is not normally vocal on Twitter during this conference.For Pinterest, I’ve been adding the videos and images from my SAS Users Groups blog to boards that I’ve created. The most important thing, once again, is promotion. Even though Pinterest has been highly successful for some audiences, it is not widely accepted by my audience. However, by tweeting and otherwise promoting each Pin, I’m slowly adding followers on Pinterest, too.

Waynette Tubbs (@waynettetubbs)


These sites are popular because we all love simple, visual things that convey an emotion or an insight into business, life or fun. We have looked at creating visual elements for all our content efforts. How can we turn our latest initiative into a slideshare deck, a scribd document or an infographic on Pinterest? All these sites present opportunities to force us to think visually in our content marketing efforts.- Michael Brenner (@BrennerMichael)


As a general rule, you should approach sites like Instagram and Pinterest with the same strategy you use for all of your content marketing. Develop your plans with your core audience in mind and then see if these channels would be a good for distribution. Our speakers also provide some specific ideas on how to use these channels when blogging, at in-person events, and more.

Now it’s your turn: How have you adjusted your strategy to incorporate visual content?

Remember that you can see all of these speakers live at Content Marketing World in Columbus, Ohio from September 4–6! We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Author: Michele Linn

Michele is the Vice President of Content at the Content Marketing Institute. She is one of those people who truly loves what she does and who she works with. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

Other posts by Michele Linn

  • Linda

    No word about copyrighted material? And making sure that the images you are grabbing are not copyrighted? A relative was recently sued for unknowingly using a copyrighted photo on his blog. Sued for $50,000 and settled for $2500. No cease and desist letter, just a law suit. Adding imagery is great but please be careful about who owns it.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Linda — Great point! 

  • http://www.sparklogix.com/ Richard Morrison

    This is great.  Visual content marketing has become  such a vital part of any marketing strategy.  This article will come in handy for me as I start developing visual content strategies.  Thank you for posting!

  • http://humanwebsite.com.my/ Kent

    Visual content is nothing new. From ancient time until today, people love visual. The very first thing to create (content) is visual, not text.

  • http://twitter.com/katiedel katiedel

    One of the best presentations at Confab this year was Dan Roam’s keynote, where he discussed the concept of VIVID content (Visual, Verbal, InterDependent) to ensure ideas come across clearly. His concept was less about the idea of “incorporating” great visuals into your written content, but rather the idea that sometimes, visuals can be much stronger. His book “Blah, Blah, Blah” is super interesting and gets into the logic behind it more. Myself personally, I’ve discovered that using the right images or even replacing text with images altogether can serve as a more efficient means of communicating, as I’ve incorporated the idea into process documentation for my team. I’d argue that visuals aren’t a “nice to have” but a must-have.