Visual Content for Environmental Communication

If you run a company or organisation with an environmental mission, you want to have a positive impact and you want to be seen. Strong visual content can help you with that – literally – and convince people of the great value of your product or service. This post is about the power of visuals and how you can use visual content to:

 

  • Make your content more engaging and memorable
  • Bring your message across
  • Increase your reach and grow your audience

 

You will also get some ideas of how to get started.

 

To understand the power of visual content, you need to understand the power of content marketing.

We live in a highly competitive world and standing out is a challenge. As green professional you want to have a positive impact on the world. With your product or service you contribute to this positive change. To be successful you have to convince the world that you have something great to offer.

But how do you do that?

Content marketing can help you with that. It helps you to reach a large audience (=your potential clients), create trust and become a valued source of information. Content marketing is a great strategy, especially for businesses with high environmental standards where selling stuff is not everything.

Check out the graphic below for a short overview on what content marketing is about and what makes good content.

content marketing principles

We wrote about content marketing for environmental awareness or you can learn more in how to explain content marketing to anyone.

Content marketing is great to promote what you stand for and to connect to your audience. But it’s not a new idea. By now content marketing became a standard for many brands, which is one of the reasons why it has become so difficult to stand out.

What is content?

Content can come in many different forms and people react differently to different forms of content. That means that some people for instance prefer reading about a topic, while others prefer watching a video about it. If we think about content, we often think about written content. But written content is only the tip of the iceberg and is more and more replaced or accompanied by visual content.

The reason why written content plays such an important role is easy: Written content is a very effective way to communicate. With relatively little effort we can put a lot of information into written content. That’s one of the reasons why there are so many successful blogs out there. Blog posts provide a lot of information and a lot of answers to all different kinds of question.

But written content has a downside. Our attention span is increasingly shorter and written content is often not catchy enough to entertain us for a long time. There is a high chance that your audience will not even read half of your post even if the topic is principally relevant.

In fact, even if your audience does read the whole post, they might have difficulties taking in all the information and remembering it. You probably remember that from when you were a student. You read something in your textbook and 5 minutes later you’ve already forgotten what it was about. The same happens with your blog post. Unless you add something that makes people remember your post. That’s where visual content shines!

Visual Content Makes Your Posts More Engaging and Memorable

Visual content is versatile and comes in many different shapes. Think of pictures, comics, memes, infographics, charts, diagrams, screenshots, GIFs, videos – so basically anything that you take in with your visual sense.

Visuals help to catch your audience’s attention, keeps them entertained throughout your post and makes them remember your message.

That doesn’t mean that you have to replace all your written content with visual content. But mixing in some visual elements will definitely make your content more engaging.

Check out the infographic below for a first overview of how visual content makes your content stand out:

the effect of visual content for communication
By the way, infographics are very effective in communicating potentially complex information in a visually appealing way. They are easy to understand and sum up the most important information. That's why infographics play such a big role in content marketing. Check out this list for some more inspiration.

Visual Content Sticks and Motivates

Visuals are great as attention catcher and make content more appealing. That’s for instance why many bloggers use a blog banner with a featured image or why you will often find icons on websites.

But even more important is the fact that your audience will remember visual content a lot better than purely written content. Visual content is processed in the same area of the brain as our emotions. By triggering an emotional response, visual content enters our long-term memory straight away. So visual content makes people remember you and your message.

Exactly what you want!

Adding visual content also works as a “reading-motivator”. It splits up your written content into smaller chunks making it easier for your audience to navigate through your post.

A 1500-word blog post without any visual content can be quite a lot to process. But visuals that relate to your post and resonate with your audience, will spark their curiosity. Your audience wants to know how this funny meme or that beautiful picture relates to the post. To find out they will click on the link and read the post.

However, if you use visual content, make sure that it’s relevant and has a high quality. You don’t want to frustrate your audience with unnecessary clutter or low-resolution images.

Speak Your Audience’s Language

It may feel strange, at first, to use memes or GIFs when talking about a serious topic. But memes and GIFs are part of the Internet language and most people are used to them. By using this type of visuals, you show that you understand your audience and that you speak the same language. It makes you approachable.

A lot of people are afraid of dumbing-down their audience by oversimplifying things and using silly images. But making stuff more entertaining and using your audience’s language doesn’t mean that you lower the quality of your content. You just translate it into a different language. It shows that you want to engage with your audience on an equal footing.

 

It creates trust.

 

For more on how to approach different audience check out our post on improving environmental communication for public awareness.

Visual Content Helps You to Bring Your Message Across

In content marketing, content is usually meant to provide relevant and useful information to your audience. That’s why content marketing is often educational. This is especially true for the environmental sector.

As green professional or environmental organisation you want to inform your audience about something that you find important. You want to inspire them and maybe make them take more sustainable actions. So in that sense your content may often be educational.

If your audience can relate to your content and finds it useful, your content is considered relevant. But even relevant content might need some additional visual support to have the desired effect.

And That’s How…

Humans are basically made for visual content. As mentioned earlier, visual content helps to create long-lasting memories. About two out of three people are visual learners and one third of our brain is trained to analyse visual content. The human brain can process visual information 60000 times faster than written information.

So by using visual content along with your written text you do not only create long-lasting memories. You also help your audience grasp and process information quickly and make complex information more accessible. That’s why visuals contribute to more successful learning experiences. And you want your audience to learn about the things that you stand for and consider important.

Visual Content Increases Your Reach and Grows Your Audience

Infographics, Photos and other visual content are great to catch attention. Therefore, they are ideal to be shared on all different kinds of social media platforms. By sharing visual content on different platforms, you can increase the reach of your content and grow your audience.

If you share a catchy image, people will get curious and click on it to check out your post. Visual content is also a lot more likely to be re-shared compared to written content.

It’s great when people like your content so much that they re-share it. This is a great feedback for you and shows that your content is really relevant and of course it helps you to increase your reach and grow your audience.

Want to Get Started with Visual Content?

Great! There is a lot to learn about how to use visuals in content marketing to really use their full potential. If you have the resources, it might be a good idea to hire a professional photographer, videographer or graphic designer to help you. Producing visual content is their job and they are good at it. Hiring a professional will save you a lot of time; Time that you can use to focus on the things you are really good at.

But don’t worry if you don’t have the resources (yet). Sometimes we have to compromise. That doesn’t mean that you have to give up visual content completely. On the Internet you will find many helpful programs and platforms that will make it easy for you to get started and create appealing visual content without having to be a professional. You can find a list with some useful sources for your visual content here.

Follow our blog for more tips on how to use visuals to engage your audience and stimulate learning.