From cave paintings to YouTube, visual storytelling is a pervasive and powerful way to share ideas, educate, and communicate. Today, we have limitless array of available media. And we can share our stories instantaneously. The reach of visual storytelling has never been more promising.
In the late 90s, the company 3M (famous for their iconic Post-It notes) conducted. It revealed that using visual aids could improve learning by up to 400%. Subsequent studies have shown that visual content can rack up the views online – 94% higher than words alone.
The stats tell their own story. But maybe you’re looking for deeper reasons to get visual with your storytelling?
Here are a few more.
Our Brains are Hard-wired to Crave Stories
Great storytelling that stimulates all of the senses promotes the release of feel-good brain chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine. These chemicals can prompt us to feel more comfortable, more relaxed, and more motivated. We are more likely to click a button, make a purchase, or follow a readily available call to action. Naturally, the feel-good afterglow of experiencing a great visual story makes viewers want to see another, and another after that.
Visual Storytelling Can Tell a Complex Tale in a Compact Timeline
images can do most, if not more of, the heavy lifting we usually rely upon words to provide. This can be in a well-composed Instagram post, a tightly choreographed YouTube video, or a stunning front-page photograph,
No visual storytelling format proves that point better than the infographic. It boils an entire article’s worth of detail into a single share-worthy image to leverage visual storytelling. Effective infographics, like traditional stories told with words, have a visible beginning, middle, and end.
You’ll also notice that the best infographics are very selective when it comes to the images used. Clearly organized visuals that support the message instead of distracting from it. Color is used deliberately to delineate specific topics. These techniques effortlessly guide the audience through the story.
Sharing Visual Stories on Social Media Draws Your Audience In
With more than 500 million daily active Instagram users and more than 10 billion videos watched each day on Snapchat, it’s clear that visual-centric social media is where everyone wants to be. On Facebook, posts with images enjoy a whopping 2.3 times more engagement than those without. And on Twitter, adding an image to your tweet can get similarly astounding results- like 150% more retweets.
Sure, as mentioned above, our brains are way into stories, but when it comes to social media, there’s another factor at play – relatability.
Brands or businesses who tell stories via video or visuals on platforms like Instagram or Facebook have an unmatched opportunity to let viewers into their world in a way that is genuine, fascinating, and desirable. Show your audience the who, what, where, and why behind your business in a quick mobile video, or a series of showcase videos that give them insight into the humans behind your brand.
These authentic visual stories are a great way to help your audience feel like you’re connecting with them- and while telling your story on a social media platform, you can also reach out to your audience and engage with them.
Mobile Platforms Are Perfect for Visual Storytelling
Scrollytelling. Listicles. Microvideo. Sound like a new language? Well, it is, sort of- the language of visual storytelling on mobile.
The common thread between stories told outside our handheld devices and stories told on them is that they are adapted to fit the platform. With scrollytelling, for example, an image and text heavy article that may be cumbersome to read on an iPhone is transformed into a more linear viewing experience.
There are simple ways to tell visual stories on social media that can be very impactful on mobile- rather than trying to wrap your mind around creating an infographic, think of simply using a longform caption with a meaningful image, a la Humans of New York, which has built an endearing and enduring brand with the basic idea of telling a story one photo and one caption at a time.
Other ways to present mobile-friendly bitesized content?
Make your own meme.
Create a GIF or several to sprinkle throughout your social media feeds.
Draw up a few basic minimal-frame comics.
Or take a longform piece like a blog post, podcast, or whitepaper, and transform it into a quick explainer video. After all, 75% of worldwide video plays come from mobile devices!