visual communications

Looking Behind the Camera at the Video Production Team

Video and visual storytelling are “in.” Before you jump in, you should understand what it takes to produce a professional video that will represent your brand and tell your story authentically and effectively.

Video and visual storytelling are “in.” Before you jump in, you should understand what it takes to produce a professional video that will represent your brand and tell your story authentically and effectively.

Producing a video is a team effort. But many times, clients don’t know what each team member does, or even what kind of help they need. So, here’s a guide to the key players on a video team, and the role(s) they play in the production.

Videographer: (Also called camera operator, photographer, director of photography)

This is the person with the camera, lights and equipment. He/she is responsible for capturing the visual images used in a video. Some of the necessary, and unseen, duties the video photographer is responsible for include: 

  • Scouting potential filming locations;

  • Lighting interviews and filming locations;

  • Operating specialized camera equipment such as a dolly, slider, jib, pole cam and drone;

  • Setting up audio and microphones for interviews (including shotgun and lavaliere mics);

  • Monitoring audio during interviews;

  • Conceptualizing interesting ways to film a subject, product or idea.

Producer:

This person is the conductor of your production. He/she oversees all aspects of the project, including but not limited to:

  • Budgeting;

  • Scheduling;

  • Hiring the video team;

  • Story mapping;

  • Story production;

  • Interview preparation and conducting on-camera interviews;

  • Assisting the video team during filming;

  • Reviewing raw footage and interviews;

  • Project management;

  • Script development and/or scriptwriting, if voiceover narration is needed;

  • Auditioning and hiring professional actors and professional voiceover talent, if your production calls for that;

  • Logistics;

  • Permit acquisition (if filming in public spaces);

  • Issuing waivers;

  • Booking out of town travel;

  • Working with the video editor to make sure the client’s vision is clearly communicated in the finished video. 

  • Also handles coffee and lunch runs for the crew.

Editor:

This person weaves together the raw footage, interviews, voiceover narration, motion graphics and animation into a cohesive video that reflects a client’s key messages. Editors are responsible for:

  • Selecting music;

  • Selecting interview clips and b-roll footage;

  • Resizing still photos;

  • Color correcting footage;

  • Selecting effect transitions;

  • Creating 2D and 3D animations;

  • Editing audio to remove clicks and pops;

  • Exporting a video file for Internet use.

Many videographers are also accomplished editors and are involved in the creative process from the beginning, which can help streamline the production process. Whomever you hire to edit your video must be proficient in editing software such as Premiere, Avid or Final Cut. 

Now that you know the players on the video team, let’s crunch some numbers.

It takes an average of 8-12 weeks to produce a three-to-five-minute video, and around 90 hours to produce the project professionally. If you divide the number of hours by three (for videographer, editor and producer), you’re looking at an average of 30 hours of work required for each team member. Based on that, these are the questions you need to ask:

  • Do you have a producer-videographer-editor team in-house that you can free up to produce your video? Can you get other staff to take on the additional 90 hours of work that your in-house team can no longer do because they’re working on your project?

  • If you have experience as a producer, do you have an additional 30 hours of unpaid time in your schedule that you can devote to working with an outside videographer and/or editor to produce a video? 

  • If you’ve never produced a video before, would you even know how to approach such an undertaking? 

  • If your specialty is filming and editing, would you be willing to devote hours of unpaid time to learn the production part of the process?

Once you determine how much time you’re willing to commit to producing a video, you can figure out the financial investment you’re willing to make.

Generally speaking, a videographer/editor will be less expensive than a producer/videographer/editor team. Occasionally, you can find “one-man band” video pros – people who can film, produce and edit. If you want to keep costs down, hiring one person who does it all might be a good fit for you. The producer-videographer-editor team would be on the high end budget-wise because you’re paying for producing expertise. But if you’re someone with little time to spare, paying a higher fee might be a good trade-off because of the time you save by not having to be so hands-on during each phase of the project.

Whichever option you choose, base your decision on the amount of time you’re willing to devote to the actual production of a project, as well as your experience in the nuts and bolts of video production.

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About the author:

Holly Paige is a story consultant and video content creator based in Portland, Oregon. She produces videos for businesses and organizations that want to tell their stories and tell them right. Visit: www.waveonegroup.com

 

Explaining Explainer Videos

Explainer videos are rising in popularity because they can boost Google rankings, increase conversion rates, entertain customers and be shared easily, adding some pep to a website or social media platforms.

Explainer videos are rising in popularity because they can boost Google rankings, increase conversion rates, entertain customers and be shared easily, adding some pep to a website or social media platforms.

There’s a new kind of animated and live action video appearing on websites and social media platforms. It’s called an explainer video and judging from the rave reviews this form of visual communication is getting (higher Google rankings; increased browser-to-buyer conversion rates; easy to share), it’s a must-have piece of digital content.

Here’s a snapshot of what this trend is all about and why you might want to consider using it in an upcoming marketing campaign.

The idea behind an explainer video is a quick explanation of what your business does and the problems you solve for your customers.

Explainer videos typically involve either live action video and/or some kind of animation. Examples are a series of whiteboard sketches; 2D and 3D cartoon animation, typography moving around on a screen (called kinetic typography) or  animated cutouts of people and objects. 

Explainer videos run up to two minutes in length and contain some or all of the following elements:

  • Written script highlighting a problem a potential customer faces; the solution the company provides and a call to action
  • Voiceover narration
  • On-screen graphics
  • Music
  • Animation style
  • Subtitles

Prices range from thousands of dollars to free software for the DIY crowd.

What the explainer video offers is an easy way for businesses to add a video element to their websites and social media platforms.

Like every other type of digital shiny object, the danger is relying solely on explainer videos at the expense of creating additional forms of personalized content. Savvy communicators know they need to speak to different audiences and the best way to do that is to develop content that is meaningful and memorable to each target group.

That said, here are two ways to decide which type of explainer video is best for your company:

  • If your goal is to humanize your company, using live action video is preferable to animation. You can use key company executives, employees and customers to communicate your message. Dollar Shave Club produced a hilarious live action video featuring the president of the company.
  • If you have a complicated topic or need to deliver a conceptual message, an animated video is a good way to visualize the subject and walk viewers through your process. Pinterest produced an easy-to-follow animated explainer video.

Explainer videos are the newest way for brands to make themselves seen and heard. And in this increasingly crowded digital landscape, getting noticed is a never-ending challenge. 

About the author:

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Holly Paige is a story consultant and video content creator based in Portland, Oregon. She uses the power of storytelling to produce videos for businesses and organizations that want to tell their stories and tell them right. Visit: www.digitalwave.tv and www.waveonegroup.com.

TSA Uses Visuals to Convey a ‘Necessary Nuisance’

The Transportation Security Administration uses a range of information and impish visual communications to explain the necessary nuisance of searching bags, confiscating disallowed goods such as fireworks and patting down passengers to ensure commercial airline safety.

The Transportation Security Administration uses a range of information and impish visual communications to explain the necessary nuisance of searching bags, confiscating disallowed goods such as fireworks and patting down passengers to ensure commercial airline safety.

If people who check your identity, scan your carry-ons, seize your water bottles and pat you down can generate smiles on Instagram, so can you.

TSA is the ultimate purveyor of user-generated content – from loaded guns and lethal knives to angelic kids and lovable dogs. What TSA sees and sometimes confiscates is eye-popping fun, which the federal agency shares on its popular Instagram account.

Hard to imagine a federal agency, especially one often under siege from air travelers and politicians, could have such an infectious sense of humor. But it is easy to recognize TSA uses quirky pictures on its Instagram account as part of its overall visual communications strategy.

FEMA has developed an infographic that provides useful, easy-to-grasp ways to prepare your home for a major earthquake. It is another example of a visually appealing way to help people deal with a necessary nuisance.

FEMA has developed an infographic that provides useful, easy-to-grasp ways to prepare your home for a major earthquake. It is another example of a visually appealing way to help people deal with a necessary nuisance.

David Johnston is TSA’s social media strategist who helps travelers literally “get the picture” of what they can and cannot take aboard a commercial airliner at a US airport. Pictures are the best means to convey a lot of information quickly to people who speak different languages and have varying degrees of experience on air travel. Pictures also can be a powerfully passive way to explain controversial or sensitive regulations and avoid ugly confrontations.

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TSA’s visual communications strategy could be a case study for organizations and communicators that need to “speak” in the digital age. Infographics and videos show what can be taken on board in carry-ons and provide excellent shareable content for social media. Informative, well-illustrated blog posts provide timely information, such as how to pack presents for Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa.

Instagram posts aim to reach younger eyeballs and poke light-hearted fun at some of the stuff TSA confiscates, like fireworks and smartphones with built-in knives.

For an agency whose purpose is to be intrusive in the name of safety, visual communications are icebreakers. They subtly and successfully make TSA seem helpful – and friendly, even as TSA personnel check out your liquid containers and scrutinize your iPad for explosives.

TSA rarely has “good” news to tell or a two-for-one sale to promote. All it can do is strive to make airport security checks less of a necessary nuisance. This should be a light-bulb moment for companies, nonprofits and other public agencies that are in the necessary nuisance business. Visual aids can help.

Visual communications can deliver basic information quickly and often complex information simply. They can cut across cultural, language and age barriers. They can replace bulky text and substitute for lengthy verbal explanations. They can inform with some style and a lighter touch.

Protecting the safety of airline passengers is serious business and, for travelers, a frustration. TSA shows some moxie by relying heavily on visual communications to balance the two while proactively communicating with people who it will check, scan and pat down.

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Gary Conkling is principal and co-founder of CFM Strategic Communications, and he leads the firm's PR practice, specializing in crisis communications. He is a former journalist, who later worked on Capitol Hill and represented a major Oregon company. But most importantly, he’s a die-hard Ducks fan. You can reach Gary at garyc@cfmpdx.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @GaryConkling.

 

 

The Secret Sauce of Delectable Content

The secret sauce of content marketing is fresh, authentic content that is delicious to consume. 

The secret sauce of content marketing is fresh, authentic content that is delicious to consume. 

Here’s a content marketing idea: Have something to say and say it with some panache.

It doesn’t take a master chef to understand the key ingredient in content marketing is content itself. If you want your dish to sizzle, the content has to taste good, be presented well and go down easily.

There is a lot of content out there that resembles processed food and frozen dinners. You might consume it, but you would rather not. You certainly wouldn’t make a special trip to the grocery store to buy it. 

When thinking of content, your mind should go to fresher fare. Like the new Portland restaurant that mixes up gourmet meals for 10 people at a sitting who watch the preparation and eat at an old-fashioned counter. You eat what you see and interact with the cook. It’s like having your own personal chef. 

Writing a blog, op-ed or white paper isn’t something you can customize for each potential reader. But you can personalize content by making it relevant, useful, entertaining or evocative. That’s what separates hot dogs from veal scaloppini.

To understand whether to whip up veal scaloppini, beef brisket or shrimp louie, you need to understand the appetites of your diners. The same is true for content development. You need a deep dive into what your audience craves. You need to know much more than their age, gender and time preference to check out social media. You must discover what interests them, concerns them or inspires them. That becomes your editorial menu for what content to create.

This kind of audience taste-testing isn’t something you can farm out to the folks who make your bar stools or repair your dishwasher. As the master chef of your content, you have to be on top of your customers’ taste buds. If you are in harmony with customer cravings, you will never be at a loss of what to cook up. 

Content marketing counselors urge creating good content, but they often fail to describe the recipe. Good content, like good food, should be authentic and satisfy the palate as well as the tummy. It makes you want to hug the cook. Good content makes the same kind of strong connection between the content creator and consumer.

While good content is easy to spot, it is not always easy to see. That’s where the “marketing” part of content marketing comes into play. The marketing job is to get good content on the table in front of diners. If great content is teamed with lousy marketing, the tables will be largely empty. Likewise, great marketing and so-so content discourages a return visit.

As in fine cooking, content generation requires trial and error. Failure isn’t a bad thing, especially if it forces you into a more productive direction and a refined approach. This is why engagement is so important. A good cook wants to hear compliments, but also needs to see what part of a meal goes uneaten into the garbage can. The same is true for content marketers who should ask for viewer feedback and measure consumer reaction. It’s okay to try out some diner ideas or maybe even let them grill a meal once in a while.

Content marketing success starts with content that makes your consumers’ mouths water and then satisfies their hunger. Content should be dished up with visual appeal. And your consumers should know where to find you and when they can sit down to feast. But above all, have something to say.

Content Marketing Example

Alaska Airlines continues to shine as a savvy content marketer. The airline delayed the takeoff of a flight from Anchorage to Honolulu earlier this year to allow a swarm of eclipse chasers – and a planeload of other passengers – to see a total solar eclipse over the Pacific Ocean, capturing national media attention.

Top designer Luly Yang demonstrates how to best prepare your wedding dress as a carry-on item when flying to your destination wedding. 

In its most recent blog post, Alaska Air featured fashion designer Luly Yang, who will reimagine fight attendant uniforms. However, the blog focuses on something more down-to-earth – how do you pack a wedding dress when flying. In short videos, Yang demonstrates how to fold a flowing gown into a suitcase and even a carry-on bag to ensure it arrives with minimal wrinkles and no damage, avoiding a bride’s worst nightmare.

This is content geared for people who fly on airplanes or who have daughters who will fly on airplanes to go to faraway weddings. The content is useful, and it’s presented in a visually informative and entertaining way. The advice, by the way, might just as easily apply to a guy’s suit coat or silk Hawaiian shirts.

This is how good content marketing is done. 

Ten Essential Skills for Digital Marketing

The rise of digital media reinforces marketing skills such as clear writing and visual communications and requires new skills ranging from using digital analytics to working productively in virtual teams.

The rise of digital media reinforces marketing skills such as clear writing and visual communications and requires new skills ranging from using digital analytics to working productively in virtual teams.

As we plunge deeper into the digital age, some old skills take on greater value and new skills are required to remain top of mind, convey brand value and get work out the door.

Arik Hanson, in his blog Communications Conversations, offers what he calls 10 essential skills for the future of public relations. The skills could just as easily apply to the future of successful communications for brands, nonprofits and public agencies.

Video and audio production and advertising copywriting skills top Hanson’s list. He might have added animation skills. The tools to produce compelling video and audio content have become vastly more accessible to everyday users, who face growing demands to generate visual content. Advertising is expanding to social media, which demands knowledge of how to write snappy copy, even if you aren’t an “advertising creative.”

Another emerging skill set, Hanson says, is the ability to create social media content and manage social content systems. Some still cling to the view that social media is all about dog pictures and people describing what they ate for dinner, original content that is useful, relevant and entertaining has become a staple of marketing programs, especially for nonprofits and public agencies. Curating and stockpiling content, as well as making it searchable, has become a fundamental marketing ground-game skill.

Writing clearly for external and internal audiences isn’t a new skill, but Hanson insists its role is growing. With information overload and a casual attitude about writing, those who can communicate clearly in words will be highly regarded – and perhaps in short supply. Writing for internal audiences involves “understanding what motivates employees,” Hanson says, “as well as having solid writing skills.”

Visual communications dominate on digital media, which means organizations and their PR counselors must “develop a visual style” for their online presence. It’s not enough to be online. You need to stand out online.

Another reality of digital media is the power of influencers. Hanson says collaborating with influencers is a whole new ballgame. "Four to six years ago, everyone was talking about blogger outreach, and with good reason: Blogs were the dominant cog in the social media machinery. Fast-forward to 2016, and there are now platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat – with people on those networks who command significant attention.”

Satisfying clients remains a priority, but Hanson says it now requires a “deep understanding of traditional, digital and business analytics.” It also requires, he adds, an “understanding of how to produce reports that make sense to clients.” “Provide relevant context, provide ideas as outcomes of the data and always cull the data and present them in terms the client can understand.”

The final skill Hanson points to is the ability to work in virtual teams. “I see virtual work environments as a huge trend over the next five to seven years,” he says. That involves understanding virtual team workflows and investing in tools that work in virtual team environments.

Hanson, who is the principal for a Minneapolis-based marketing firm, wrote a similar list of 10 essential skills in 2012. The list changed significantly in just four years. It is highly likely to keep changing rapidly into the future, which means organizations need to adopt an attitude of continuous improvement and a willingness to learn and embrace new ideas.

Earning Clicks and Much More

If you want to be heard, be seen.

If you want to be heard, be seen.

Images improve the chances of connecting your customers with your content. If you catch their eye, you can earn a click.

However, images can do much more than just earn clicks. They can deliver useful information, answer common questions and provide clear explanations. 

Visual content works because our brains are wired to process images much faster than words. That's why a good picture is worth more than a 1,000 words.

Images have other virtues, too. They can simplify, symbolize and sequence information in ways that are familiar, comfortable and nearly automatic. It takes far less effort to look at a picture than to read a paragraph.

Capitalizing on visual content requires the same care, thought and editing as writing an effective paragraph. Sticking a picture into the middle of a mound of words won't cut it. We use the phrase "information design" to describe the process of determining how to meld words and images into a cohesive communications unit.

Here are some tips about finding and using visual content successfully:

1  All pictures aren't created equal. You need to choose pictures that grab attention and tell your story. We have moved past the Polaroid era and people expect higher quality imagery, which they see everyday, all day on television and the Internet. If you can't discriminate between a good picture and a bad one, get help so what you choose does the job.

2  You don't have to be a world-class photographer. Some of the most powerful pictures are ones taken in the moment on smartphones. The pictures you want to use should be judged by their effect on your customers, not based on the credentials of who shot them. 

3  Images don't have to be pictures. Some of the best, most shareable visual content comes in the form of charts and infographics, which are cleverly packaged and logically sequenced information delivery vehicles. Charts are especially good ways to show contrast. Infographics work well to explain a complicated piece of information in a simple, digestible fashion. They also are powerful ways to show causal relationships.

4  Video counts as visual content. Video gets discounted because of a perception that it is too hard and too expensive to develop. That's yesterday's news. Short videos can be easy to produce and are an effective way to show how something works or share a testimonial.

5  Seek and use customer content. A great way to generate images is to ask your customers to send them to you. You may receive a lot of unusable stuff, but all it takes is a few gems to add value to your communications. Customer-generated content is also a great way to engage your customer base.

6  Little pictures matter as much as big ones. No question a large, dramatic picture can be spellbinding. But smaller pictures can be appealing, too, such as photographs of the staff member who writes a blog. Think both big and small when you search and select images.

7  Don't overlook the element of surprise. Pictures, unlike words, can make people do a double-take. Visual surprises pull the eye toward them because they conflict with our sense of the familiar. They cause us to take a second look, which increases your chance of getting someone to spend more time with your content.

8  Be careful with stock photos. Stock photography can be a short-cut to getting a relevant, eye-fetching picture. It also can be a can of worms. First off, make sure you purchase the stock image you use for the purpose or purposes you intend. Second, be mindful of whether a competitor has used the image, which can be very embarrassing. Finally, stock pictures are just that. They are generic, not specific. If you are going for authenticity, look somewhere else than the online galleries of stock photography.

9  Insert personality into your visual content. Selfies are popular because they are personal. Inserting some personality into your pictures, charts or infographics underscores authenticity and can reinforce your branding. Be careful not to inject a tone that is inconsistent with your message.

10  Leverage familiar patterns. Infomercials can be effective by relying on tried-and-true patterns, such as "before" and "after." Visuals that are basically doodles work because most people doodle. A familiar picture with an odd twist can be turned into a meme that results in shares and comments online. Be a good observer and follow your own visual instincts.

A Picture of Storytelling

The photograph shows a table with uneaten eggs, a cold teapot, shattered glass and a blood-stained curtain. It was taken in Donetsk, Ukraine. It could have been taken anywhere experiencing the ravages of war.

The photograph shows a table with uneaten eggs, a cold teapot, shattered glass and a blood-stained curtain. It was taken in Donetsk, Ukraine. It could have been taken anywhere experiencing the ravages of war.

The photograph shows a table with uneaten eggs, a cold teapot, shattered glass and a blood-stained curtain. It was taken in Donetsk, Ukraine. It could have been taken anywhere experiencing the ravages of war. 

Titled "Kitchen Table," the photograph is one of the winners in the 2015 World Press Photo Contest. The more enduring message of the photograph is that a great picture can tell a great story.

Data overwhelmingly shows pictures do much more than substitute for a 1,000 words. Pictures tell stories in ways words never can. They attract our eye. They hold our attention. They linger in our memory.

The gallery of photos in the World Press contest speaks volumes about the power of pictures. Three empty dresses underscore the horror of the mass abduction of schoolgirls by Boko Haram. A woman in chains with her head drooping evinces the inhumanity of illicit sex trafficking. An outstretched Odell Beckham making a one-handed catch in the end zone celebrates amazing athleticism.

While the subject matter of many of the photographs is emotionally charged, the common value of all the photos is their well-framed simplicity. Winners titled "Family Love" and "Vegetables with an Attitude" don't have grand subjects, just great photography that tells a story.

The point is not to argue for pictures without words, but for a marriage of equals. Pictures can tell a story that words cannot match. Words can fill in the blanks of the stories pictures begin to tell. That is nowhere more obvious than the new trend in websites that focus on scrolling stories. 

The communication channel really doesn't matter. Websites, press releases, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, memos and proposals all are stronger when visual images reinforce words, and words add value to pictures. 

Great photographers have immense skill. But technology has made it possible for lesser skilled people to take great photographs. 

Crack open your digital camera, drag out your old Polaroid or figure out where the shutter button is on your smartphone and start shooting the stories occurring all around you. Don't be surprised when people take notice of the visual storytelling that you post.

Make Your Workers a Real Target Audience

Employees are one of the most neglected target audiences. Too often, information of relevance to them is dribbled out, posted on antiquated communications platforms or overlooked altogether.

And employers wonder why their workforce are not engaged or motivated.

Over time, poor internal communications can lead to an even deeper alienation. But the alienation also can be instantaneous if a major announcement is botched because of inadequate or insensitive internal communications.

Smart business owners and senior managers don't dismiss complaints about faulty worker communications. Instead, they view effective internal communications as a strategy to promote productivity, stay in touch with the front lines of their businesses and achieve an esprit de corps that is key to keeping an organization operating smoothly and on goal.

The trail of missteps by employers has been pretty well mapped — poorly handled layoffs, surprise rebranding, sudden and unexplained management changes and out-of-the-blue modifications to employee benefits. What isn't so clear is how employers can take steps to clean up their act and make employee communications a priority, not an afterthought. Here are some ideas:

Put a premium on and reward internal communication

If you want managers to communicate with employees, make it a part of their job, then evaluate them on how they perform. Reward good communication habits and discipline managers who slough off the assignment. Managerial engagement must be more than superficial. People can tell when you are just going through the motions and when you are actually paying attention.

Logos that Tell Brand Stories

There is a new trend in logo design — logos containing visual elements that convey messages about what a company does or stands for.

For years, logos have conveyed a sense of brand. The particular chocolate color is recognizable worldwide, with or without the word "Hershey." The script used by Campbell's sets apart its soup. Ditto for Coca-Cola and its sodas. Now marketers and designers are striving for more from a logo. They want logos that tell brand stories. 

Perhaps the most dramatic redesigned corporate logo belongs to IBM, long the stuffed shirt of high tech companies. The "new" IBM logo supplants the pinstriped three-letter version with one that features hieroglyphs of an eye and a bee. The "M" remains in the old style to remind you this is actually the IBM logo, while the new icons hint at a major change in corporate culture.

The friendly eye and bee connote a more approachable kind of company than the familiar IBM logo designed in 1972. Interestingly, this logo was created in 1981 by the same designer, Paul Rand, who called this version a more relaxed alternative to the original. It seems the company is catching up to its creative side.

Our Top Five Facebook Tips

Engaging fans is more important that accumulating them on Facebook. Facebook is a visual medium, so images, video and infographs attract attention. Make it easy for people to find your Facebook page.

These are just some of the tips bloggers and social media gurus have offered. One blog listed 43 Facebook tips. So we've weeded through blogs to distill our best advice to five good tips. Here they are:

Fan engagement is key

Recruiting new Facebook fans is important, but your number of fans won't matter unless you give them a reason to return. Your fans already know something about your brand, otherwise they wouldn't have become fans. So instead of selling them your product, a better idea is engaging them in who you are and the value you offer. That will help you discover what your fans think of you and what they expect from you, which is invaluable information.

Engagement can include events, promotions and contests that seek fan-generated involvement and content such as pictures, recipes and stories. Brand managers can ask directly for advice about product or service features. And, of course, companies and organizations can share some of their own stories, featuring its support for a cause or an employee who did something outstanding.

Facebook is a visual medium

From its inception, Facebook has been more than a platform for texting. Now with its new Timeline format, Facebook is even more of a visual medium.

Leveraging Facebook's visual potential involves more than a good cover image. It extends to posting items with visual qualities — good pictures, video, infographs, even well-designed charts. Facebook is definitely a place to show me, rather than tell me.

Make it easy to find you on Facebook

This seems like a no-brainer, but many times the button to "like" a Facebook page isn't placed in an easy-to-find location on a website. Smart website designers integrate the Facebook button, along with those of other social media sites, in a prominent place on a landing page.

Don't stop with your website, ask people to come to your Facebook page in other communication channels, whether it is the front door of your fitness gym, a grocery shelf where your product is displayed or your blog.

Visual Storytelling: Child's Play

Children's storybooks delight children and parents alike because of the dazzling interplay of words and pictures. Their success underscores the power of visual storytelling.

"Sure, picture books are great, but I never could do anything like that," is a typical refrain. The truth is, you can tell a story visually if you let the child in you out.

Martin Salisbury, an illustrator, and Morag Styles, a professor of children's literature, collaborated on Children's Picturebooks, The Art of Visual Storytelling. The book describes how these books charm young and old and the key stages of conceiving a visual narrative.

In an interview with NPR, Salisbury says the appeal of picture books is "the simple visual style [that] allows readers to project their own personalities and thoughts onto the character." Sparking imagination in viewers leads to engagement. And that engagement can be etched deeply in the memory, as reflected by how many pictures and phrases adults remember from children's picture books.

Visual narratives aren't dumbed-down narratives or merely pictures added to illustrate words. "It's that issue of condensing something into something very elegant and short, usually 32 pages, which is very, very complex to do," explains Salisbury. "Making it look simple and elegant is perhaps the hardest thing to do."

It also takes hard work, much the way Mark Twain meant when he said he would have written a shorter letter — if he had more time.

As understatement has fallen out of favor to the more raucous exchanges of reality TV, visual communication remains a source of subtlety. In his NPR interview, Salisbury cites Rosie's Walk as an example of pictures telling a subtle story. Rosie the hen struts through a farmyard while a fox stalks her in the background. The text never mentions the fox's intentions as it describes a series of misadventures by the fox. Nevertheless, children invariably shout at Rosie to watch out for the fox. In marketing, we call that subliminal messaging.