When Should Your Business Use Text Content or Visual Content?

Person blogging on their laptop

Text content and visual content are two types of content marketing. The idea behind content marketing is the creation of online content (like blog posts) to help your online site(s) be discovered and get higher engagement.

Text content is text-centric content. It includes things like blog posts, white papers, email newsletters, and product pages.

Visual content, on the other hand, is graphic-centric. It includes things like infographics posted on blogs, instagram photographs, curated Pinterest pins, and animated GIF’s.

I’ll be drilling into the differences between the two, as well as some ideas to help you choose which one you should focus your time and effort on.

Is text-centric content dead?

There has been a rapid growth in visual-based social networks like Instagram, Pinterest, and Imgur that take advantage of the ever-present smartphone. With so much emphasis and hype around visual social media, what is the future of text-centric marketing?

I think text-centric content both types of content are suited for different types of online marketing strategies. Each type of content has very compelling reasons why you would choose it.

Text isn’t going anywhere because of the power and cost-effectiveness of a successful SEO campaign. Once you get to the top, you will essentially be Google’s top recommendation for people searching for your keywords.

Also, social media uses visual content to attract customers, but keeps customers with what they say. Not all companies benefit the same amount from social media/SEO. However social media is a new way for companies to share their products and services through word-of-mouth advertising. You are not only speaking to a single customer, but also creating potential customers through their followers. You become a trusted brand when someone sees that they know someone who follows and like your business content. Be sure to maintain that trust by putting out relevant text content!

What can text content do for me?

The main benefit associated with text content is that it is the key to SEO. For your SEO to be doing well, you must have good text content, it’s that simple. In the arena of online marketing, SEO is one of the most valuable and important types of marketing there is.

Text content is the basis of SEO. These days, you can’t have SEO without text content.

Text content is what people are searching for when they’re looking for information about a particular topic. If you’re searching for information, visual content is probably not going to be able to provide that information to you.

The secondary benefit of text content is that it allows you to provide a more in-depth dissection of your topic. With text content, you explore a particular topic and really get to the heart of the matter with your text. Visual content gives you just a cursory glance of a particular topic, and not as deep an understanding of the topic as text content does..

Does text content have any disadvantages?

Text content requires more time and effort to be created and produced.

Writing a blog post or an essay, for example, takes more labor time than snapping a picture from your smartphone and uploading it onto your social media does. Plus, the effort needed to produce it is greater, because you really need to think about whatever it is that you’re writing.

It’s also much harder for text content to get the increased engagement that is so common with visual content.

Think about what types of content you’ve seen or shared that could be classified as having “gone viral”. It’s much harder to take text content and make it spread like wildfire than it is to do with visual content.

You could write something that takes a lot of time, a lot of effort to produce, and it still might not go viral like visual content might.

So what’s good about visual content then?

Visual content is great because it is incredibly easy to produce, as well as much easier to digest or to “get” than text content is. You can look at a piece of visual content that has been posted and understand what it’s about in about ten seconds.

Producing a piece of visual content is also far easier in terms of labor and time. A simple snapshot from your mobile phone can be uploaded to your social media in seconds.

A piece of text content needs to be read, digested and thought about in order for us to fully understand what we’ve just read, while a picture needs hardly any time for the same effect.

Not only that, but visual content has a much higher rate of sharing and engagement than text content does. This is important for traffic purposes.

The disadvantages of visual content

The main downside to visual content is that you lose out on the huge impact SEO has on content.

Since SEO is much more discoverable because of Google crawlers indexing sites than social shares are, you’ll be losing out on most of that SEO impact by focusing solely on visual content.

If you have an image that’s viral however, it probably won’t matter anyways, but this is definitely the risk you take when going with visual content.

Instead of the high ranking that goes along with good SEO, you’ll have to depend on a large number of people constantly sharing you to drive up your rankings.

If that does happen, and you do rank highly on Google for a while, odds are good that you can probably “coast” for a long while depending on your competition. But replicating success like that is hard to do. Not impossible, but very difficult.

So what should I do? Use text or visual content?

If your products and services have a lot of people searching on Google, then text-based content marketing will play a key role in winning their traffic and business. Google’s ranking algorithm depends heavily on text.

When you produce text-based content, you’re essentially creating new “products” for Google Search to “serve” their online web-search customers. Creating visual content won’t make you discoverable through SEO like text content will.

Here’s another consideration: some businesses are very photogenic, and synergize well with visual content marketing on social media. A florist, for example, would extract a great deal of value from visual content marketing, because people love to see beautiful and creative flowers arrangements in their news stream. It’s something they would enjoy seeing several times a week.

If your business is based largely on word-of-mouth, visual content marketing on social media is going to be more up your alley. Many small businesses depend heavily on word-of-mouth to grow their customer base. If that’s the case, social media will synergize more with your existing business strategies.

Can you think of a reason why people would want to follow your images on social media? Visual content doesn’t have to be about how pretty your product is. Does your company have a great culture? Does your team play a game or have “inside the business jokes”? Could you use your social media platform to educate customers? Customers want to relate and feel comfortable with companies that they work with. Find what niche works for your social media platform.

Ask yourself: which kind of content you’re better and quicker at producing—text or images? Whichever form of content you feel is you’d be more prolific at producing is probably the one that you’ll want to use as your primary content marketing push. The one that you can be more prolific in will take up less time and effort than the one you aren’t as prolific in will. But don’t forget to still produce some content with the other method. Check to see what your customer base responds best to.

Include both visual and text content in your overall marketing strategy

Visual content marketing is definitely a growing and powerful trend, and great for companies that can exploit it efficiently. But don’t discount text-based content; I SEO is not going anywhere. SEO is a powerful and flexible tool.

The important thing is to make sure you are disciplined, consistent, and strategic in whichever one you do choose to focus on. By using social media to promote your blog and business, you are utilizing both text and visual content marketing to further your business.

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