Telling your story in visual ways is a great way to convey the meaning behind your efforts. After all, people are visual first and verbal second.
According to TIME Magazine's Kara Pollock, 10% of all of the photos made in photography's entire history were taken last year. About 300 million are uploaded to Facebook every day and 70% of users' activiy revolves around pictures.
These statistics—along with the meteoric rise of Pinterest and Instagram— confirm what most communicators have observed: we’re visual creatures.
But how do you choose visuals that evoke emotion and get people to action? How do you make them feel, not think?
Well, the good news is that you don’t need to be a videographer, great photographer or graphic designer to tell great stories with visuals.
If you know what motivates your audience, whether its anger at social injustice or awe at the beauty of a remote place that needs protecting, good visual storytelling focuses on the appealing to emotion.
Think about some of the best ads on TV or print, they focus on selling a lifestyle first, product second by using visuals to infuse feelings and inspiring people to buy.
Here are some tips for great visual storytelling from Resource Media’s Liz Banse.
1. Choose the right picture, not the prettiest picture.
Everyone interprets images differently so it’s a good idea to test images before you use them, gather an informal focus group and study their responses to an image. You may find that less aesthetically pleasing images are more effective than more aesthetically pleasing ones. The best way to find out if the image works is to test, test and test again. Check click through rates of emails and Facebook likes. You could also experiment with Facebook ads. For a couple of hundred dollars you can run and test ads on Facebook across different demographics and copy/image combinations.
2. Pair your pictures with words to cement them better in people’s memory.
A picture-word combination is proven to produce superior results than either pictures or words alone. Pictures help information sink in. Use captions or text overlays so that when your image is shared across the web, the message goes with it. And be specific in your use of terms and language.
3. Use real photos, not stock images or fillers.
Use authentic images that depict your organizations own work, keep your camera or smartphone in your back pocket and snap away at every opportunity you get. If you can’t write a caption for the photo that hammers home the point of the body copy then that visual probably shouldn’t be there.
4. Feature people in your pictures.
Even better use a close-up of people looking right at you, this is a sure fire way of getting people’s attention.
5. Shocking pictures of suffering distress viewers.
Instinctively people will look away, so don’t go too far in your shock factor.
6. Show the end results if someone donates.
Show the happy results that come of your supporter’s efforts, petitions, and donations. Give your supporters hope.
7. Focus on one person (most of the time).
Showing a single victim works much more effectively than crowd shots. People feel they can make a difference, showing a single victim works much better in fundraising than showing two or more. Of course, there are exceptions, group photos can be empowering when it comes to protests and rallies that show how many people turned out to support a cause.
8. Elevate design to the highest priority level in your communications and in your budget.
First impressions matter after all, when it comes to visual storytelling good design is a must and your website should reflect this. Embrace white space, around a picture or text, helps focus your reader’s attention.
For more best practices, examples and an insightful Q&A on visual storytelling, check out this on-demand webinar presented by Liz Banse: Visual Storytelling Can Motivate Supporters to Action Webinar.