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5 Tips From CMI’s Most Popular Visual Content Articles

Are your audiences and teams seeing things?

If not, your content marketing won’t be as successful as it could be.

The CMI blog’s top five articles on visual content illustrate the value of “see-able” content, whether the viewer is a search engine, audience, or content team member. (This is the last in our summer series highlighting the top five articles based on our site categories.)

Let’s dig in.

1. Inclusive content demands helpful alt tags (and so do search engines)

From: 9 Steps to Optimize Images for SEO

Popularity rank: 1

Technically, alt tags are text, not images. Still, you should create them for every image you post to the internet for a couple of reasons, according to author Isaac Justesen: “A good alt tag provides context and helps visually impaired users … (S)earch engines can still read the alternative text to help rank a page.”

Help the visually impaired read your #images. Create good alt tags, says @IsaacJustesen via @CMIContent. Share on X

Isaac also suggests using brand-relevant words in images’ alt tags to boost visibility, and he cautions against keyword stuffing.

Until I read Isaac’s piece, I had been writing alt tags similarly to how I craft file names. But that’s not the best way. “Provide more detail than you included in the file name. While no ideal number of words exists, aim for 10 to 15 to convey something about the image.”

You can start adding the must-have alt tag with your images going forward, but you also can go back and add them to what you already have. (This can be a good task for an intern.)

While alt images are helpful, image load time is critical. As Isaac explains: “An Aberdeen Group study shows that a one-second delay in load time equals a 7% drop in conversions, and that around 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.”

Get better load times by optimizing your images by compressing and sizing right for the display format. Check out Isaac’s full article for a cheat sheet, tools, and other tips to accomplish that.

2. Go live from social if you have this 1 thing

From: 5 Types of Video to Add to Your Social Media Marketing

Popularity rank: 2

Joe Forte dives into five types of video – including discussion of delivery modes and topics – that work well on social media. The first one is the subject of many content marketers’ questions – to go live or not.

The first step in answering that question is to look at your following on the social media platform. If it’s significant, livestreaming can make sense. If it’s not, going live probably isn’t necessary or helpful (and you don’t have to take another step to answer the question).

Don’t go live on #social unless you have a significant following, says @realjoeforte via @CMIContent. Share on X

Now, if you do go live, be smart about the content. As Joe writes, “Live videos often are most effective for announcements, behind-the-scenes looks, and product information videos.

“Regular short video updates can continuously engage your audience, while longer live video sessions can be a way to dig deeper with your followers through Q&A sessions and direct chats.”

Now, if you are recording videos, Joe offers details on some great options – tutorial, behind the scenes, user-generated, and informational. I love this example he shared from Notarize (important to note, the video reflects the brand’s voice well):

3. Go gifographics

From: Make Your Blog More Attractive With These 12 Visuals

Popularity rank: 3

Images attract more people to content and help them better retain the ideas, as frequently cited research shows.

Robert Katai examines 12 visual content options that can boost the appeal of your blog. He explained one option I hadn’t heard of (or at least didn’t know the name of) – gifographics.

What are gifographics? According to Robert, “They combine the power of an infographic in a format more likely to be shared by the audience.”

Gifographics combine the power of an infographic in a more shareable format, says @katairobi via @CMIContent. #VisualContent Share on X

He shares an example from KlientBoost (click the link to see the gifographic in motion). It’s designed to show the audience how to keep client retention high. I also appreciate that KlientBoost got double duty from it by incorporating it into a more in-depth article on the blog.

(Note: You can get more social shares with featured animated graphics than from visuals without animation, according to a Buffer study shared by Robert.)

4. Know design rules

From: How to Create Visual Content That’s Worth a Thousand Shares

Popularity rank: 4

Jodi Harris goes through nine ideas – and lots of brand examples – to show the value of and ways to create successful visual content.

As a content consumer, I found this tip to be the one that should be shouted and repeated to all content creators: “Know the rules of good design.”

Too often, content “creators” design visuals without having the expertise to do them well. As Jodi writes, “While the wealth of DIY design tools available online and on social media can give almost anyone the ability to create visual content, they don’t necessarily provide the know-how to do it well.”

If you’re tempted or required to design, follow these few basic design principles outlined in the article by Venngage’s Midori Nediger:

  • Give your imagery room to breathe.
  • Don’t get color blindsided.
  • Typography decisions matter.
Non-designers mistakenly want to fill every inch of space with text, images, etc., says @MNediger via @CMIContent. #designtips Share on X

I encourage you to read the full article for all the details (actually, I implore you to do so if you create graphics and designs people are going to see). But let me leave you with this explanation of typography:

“To give your visuals a bit of brand flair without sacrificing clarity, use simple fonts for the bulk of your copy, and reserve highly stylized fonts for use in large headers.”

Midori then shares this example from Mercy & Grace:

5. Use visual content to engage internally, too

From: Make Your Content Marketing Strategy Useful – Do It in Visuals

Popularity rank: 5

The first four popular articles centered on the value of visual content for your external audiences. In this article, Nadya Khoja details the value of visuals for your internal audiences. As she explains: “Text-dominated documents or presentations with a few reference images thrown in don’t work well. Create something that will remain in the minds of your team members and colleagues.”

Yep, take your content marketing strategy, workflows, etc. and give them a visual touch – your upper management, peers, and others will be more than receptive to the format.

Using #visuals to communicate your #contentmarketing strategy is the best way forward, says @NadyaKhoja via @CMIContent. Share on X

Nadya shares lots of examples and formats depending on your internal audience, purpose, etc. I like this one – a simple mind map for digital marketing.

Nadya writes: “It clearly outlines what the team is meant to achieve. You can customize mind map templates to include numbers the team has to hit or to highlight components that require immediate action.”

See the future of your visual content

Often, content is created by text-focused people (yep, writers) and visual thinking takes a back seat in content development (or doesn’t even make it into the car). That must stop.

Bring graphic artists and designers into the planning process. If they’re not on your content marketing team, put visuals on the agenda for every editorial calendar planning meeting. Your audience will show its thanks by responding in ways that mean better content results.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute