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3 Things Marketers Should Know About Visual Content in 2018

Alex Geer

70% of marketers say their results are better with visual content, but how do professionals navigate the constant demand for photos and videos? What are their biggest challenges in creating, organizing and sharing visuals today?

To answer these questions, Libris partnered with Contently to release the 2018 Report: Engaging Your Audience with Visual Content. The report, based on a March 2018 survey to marketing and creative professionals, reveals how organizations are navigating the growing need for visual storytelling. 

The report unveils key findings on the state of visual content today. Let’s walk through three of them.

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1) Speed matters… a lot. 

The ability to locate visual assets quickly matters to marketers. We asked: How important is speed when you’re looking for a visual asset to use for marketing purposes? Sixty percent said “important” or “very important.” Here’s the breakdown: 

We also asked: Compared to previous years, is the ability to locate and share visual assets quickly more or less important to your job? Here are the results:

With almost two thirds of participants stating the need to locate assets quickly is more important than previous years, there’s no question that the ability to tell stories fast — and often in real time — can make all the difference. 

We also see this up close with organizations like the Women’s March Chicago, whose visual storytelling workflow helped them go viral, and the Colorado Rockies who depend on fast content sharing to better engage their fans online during games. 

2) The need for video is increasing (and more so than photography). 

When it comes to engaging audiences online, the demand for video is on the rise. We asked survey participants: Compared to last year, has your need for videography increased, decreased or stayed the same?

The need for video has dramatically increased, and more so than photography (63% said their need for photography has increased). 

Of the 69% who said their need for video has gone up, we also discovered that their primary use cases for visual content today are advertising, social media, website, editorial, and PR. 

To follow up, we also wanted to know: What type of visual content is hardest to produce? Here are the results: 

Although 69% of participants said their need for video is increasing, here we learn that 81% say video (either custom or live) is the hardest content to create. 

The takeaway? The need for video is growing, but producing this content presents the biggest challenge. 

The report also reveals that more than 70% of participants who cite custom video as the hardest content to produce also say it drives the most engagement. So while some may find the production and execution of custom video challenging, the return is well worth the investment.

3) Retail brands are some of the most inspiring organizations out there.

We asked participants: In your opinion, what brand or organization produces the best visual content? 

The list was long. And many of the brands mentioned — Apple, Coca-Cola, and Disney to name a few — have been leaders in visual content for decades, and will likely continue to inspire for years. 

But of the responses we received, we also saw a trend toward B2C companies focused in tech and retail. Companies like REI, Patagonia, Nike, and Target are examples of brands that use photography and videography to uplift their audiences and communicate an experience and a mission far beyond the merchandise itself. (For more inspiration, check out a list of the top brands to follow on social.)

The Biggest Takeaway

With visual content at the center of storytelling, this report will open your eyes to the fact that the production, organization and sharing of visuals is more central to your job that you realize. 

Creators have to establish a clear workflow, communicate their approach to the entire team, and set up a system for testing and measuring performance. In other words, you need to have a strategic plan in place to engage your audience with visual content.

Download the 2018 Report: Engaging Your Audience with Visual Content for a complete look at how marketers are navigating the growing demand for visual content today.​​​

Alex Geer