Visual Storytelling Tips & Tools for Creative Photographers

Marketing is creating products and services that lead your tribe to tell stories that spread.

—SETH GODIN, bestselling author of “All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low Trust World”

In the winter of 1903, a woman touring New York in a streetcar watched how the shivering motorman had to get out constantly and wipe the snow and sleet from his windshield. Her name was Mary Anderson, and later that day she scribbled a drawing of what will become the first successful windshield wiper system. Her device let the driver use a lever from the inside to manually activate a swinging arm that mechanically swept off the ice and snow.

Most likely you would never forget the story of a woman who invented wipers. Since the first cave painting was discovered, storytelling has been one of the most powerful communication method. In this article I’m going to talk about the power of storytelling on social media and a few tools to help you in carving out these stories using visuals.

The Power of Visual Storytelling

Have you heard marketers proclaimed that “content is a king”, but the fast rise of visual social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram showed us that the old adage “a picture worth a thousand words” is more relevant today than ever before.

Instead of relying on text-heavy content, visual story requires “show, don’t tell” approach which will lead to bigger engagement, relevant traffic, and sales. Furthermore, photography is all about a good story.

Your Online Presence

To promote your products on social media you have to have a portfolio website first in order to direct your visitors there. Moreover, you should take care of your own social profiles (not just public pages).

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An eye gaze study by a team of psychologists at the University of Padua, Italy finds that images with human faces that either look at or point to prompts are more successful in driving traffic. People tend to feel more comfortable following the other people even it’s a stranger on a photo. So, it’s better to use your own picture on all social profile pages instead of abstract image or even a logo.

Use Visual Networks

To start taking advantage of storytelling you should use visual networks. Twitter and Facebook are giving a growing importance of images, while visual-native networks like Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Vine can be an ideal places for your photography content. Just stay creative and update your content.

Image Caption

Don’t forget to add caption to all images you upload to social media. Captions under images are consistently read by online visitors. That’s because when people see an image their eyes naturally scroll down to the caption.

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Captions are also easy to read and remember as they’re encapsulated. Web designers use various ways to insert text with call to action under images to increase the engagement. It is advisable to use a caption, that may spark a conversation or even a debate on social media (and help your SEO).

Share Brand-Related Stuff

Try to share every story of your brand, will it be your new photo shoot or interesting location you have just discovered. For instance, you can share some photos of your computer display where you edit new photos, but make sure to take a photo with your logo or some personal sign to indicate yourself. Look at Starbuck’s Instagram account, they do everything right sharing images with their coffee cups including logo on each picture. Jose Villa does the same.

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Jose Villa’s Instagram

Photos of Products in a Live Surroundings

You can use your products within a live settings or location around. This tells your story of how your product involves in real life surroundings. Just take a look at the following screenshot of American Express Facebook page post. It shows their gold card within clothes for weekend out of city and the caption says “What’s essential for your weekend fun?”. Quite obvious message of the photo may be the matching merchandise for spending weekend out of town, but the hidden message is that you need this credit card to have fun and buy all these things.

American Express Facebook post
American Express Facebook post

Keep it Consistent

Visual storytelling is not frequently done, keep it consistent. Have you ever heard of the 70-20-10 rule? This rule implies that 70 percent of content should be user-oriented, 20 percent should be someone’s ideas or Facebook posts and the last 10 percents should be promotional content.

70/20/10 Facebook posting rules infographic. Click on the image to see a full-size version.
70/20/10 Facebook posting rules infographic. Click on the image to see a full-size version.

However, if the visual storytelling is not about your brand completely, as this infographic shows just trendy statistics, you can add your content to social media as frequently as you can. Share your last photo session best photos, or some personal stuff, videos behind the scenes and some other stuff related to you and your branding to show people that you’re social.

5 Tools for Visual Storytelling

  1. Defrozo is the ultimate, online workspace enabling photographers to manage their workflow and business online, using a single login. You can create a photography website for free using Defrozo and tell your stories.
  2. If you own a few domeian names, blogs, a lot of social media accounts, About.Me is a place to put all these together. It’s a great way to maintain a single page for yourself and about yourself on the web.
  3. Use multiple drag and drop elements to tell your story online. Storify is a free tool to create your story and share it everywhere around the web.
  4. ThingLink is a free tool that allows you to add links to the images and videos and promote your brand.
  5. Magisto is a free service for creating video stories using a few videos, snapshots and a song. You can use it for making promo videos.

Join the Conversation

I hope these tips and tools for visual storytelling will help you to promote your brand online and give it a huge boost. If you know some other ways to tell a story, please feel free to use comment section to share with us. Looking forward for your ideas and thoughts.

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