Google+ Transitioning from Thought Leadership to Thought Insight - McKnight Kurland

Transitioning from Thought Leadership to Thought Insight

We recently gave a talk on this subject, and how Visual Content Marketing is impacting data overload. I thought I’d share a portion of the highlights here:

Many organizations and associations are notorious for information overload. In the effort to balance the needs of all stakeholders, board members, committees, staff and members, the perspective of the individual gets lost. Information becomes overwhelming. Data becomes crushing. Clarity falls by the wayside.

But many organizations are tackling this head-on. It means moving from thought leadership to thought insight. From just content to context. Turning data into knowledge. Messaging into human stories. The solutions are both visual and verbal, and take the form of:

  • Key value propositions
  • Stakeholder message mapping
  • Infographics
  • Dashboards
  • Iconography
  • Visual navigation
  •  Videos

What is Visual Content Marketing? It is the visualization of your brand, your positioning, your differentiation, your products, events and benefits—your story. We’re talking about data visualization, such as infographics and dashboards; the use of iconography and visual website navigation; the explosion of image-centric social media networks such as Pinterest, Instagram, Snap-Chat, Vine and others; and of course the ubiquitous video— in both long- and short-form.

Why the move to visual content marketing? On average, your readers will only read 28% of the words on a page. Can you tell your whole story in 2-3 sentences? Probably not. But 75% of C-level executives watch business related videos every week, and 65% of video viewers watch more than three-fourths of a video. 65% of your audience are visual learners. And research by 3M Corporation has shown that people process visuals up to 60,000 times faster than text. 60,000 times. News media has know this for decades—using data visualizations to present information. Let’s look at the most common forms of Visual Content Marketing that organizations NEED to be producing and utilizing.


Well-done infographics are the ultimate translation of data into knowledge. They introduce the topic, then add the meaningful layers that directly address their audiences. That’s the context. We now have insight into audience behavior.


Dashboards are meant to simplify data and surface trends for ease of consumption. They require a restraint of design and an ability to extract the most relevant insight from often disparate data. Done well, they can tell an entire story at a glance.


Just think about driving and road signs. They are simple, recognizable icons meant to engender a specific action. The same concept applies to using icons in website navigation, in application design, and even print communications. Icon imagery allows a person to scan a page—digital or print—and know where to click or read further, enhancing their engagement and improving their experience.

Social Media

Social media is ALL about visual communication. Through 2014, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram—visual-based sites—were the three networks that had the greatest growth. Facebook found that posts with photos saw the most engagement—accounting for a whopping 87% of total interactions.


And just look at some stats on emojis: 40 percent of comments on instagram (a visual medium) are expressed in emojis. 12,500 emojis are used EVERY MINUTE on Twitter. You’re already vested in making social networks work for your organization. Visual content is now king. Include images, graphics and videos with every post.


Speaking of videos—they are hugely important in visual content marketing. Using the word “Video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65%, and reduces unsubscribe rates by 26%. It is widely predicted that 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video. It is THE medium of choice for consumption. And the key to a successful video is storytelling. Humans are scientifically designed to love stories. More of our brain is engaged when we listen to stories. They cause our neurons to act as if we were actually doing the actions we hear in the story. Stories have that emotional element which makes them more entertaining and engaging.

So what is thought insight? It’s telling the human story—and how the viewer’s life can be improved through what you’re offering—whether it’s knowledge, newtorking, products, services, membership or participation. And using visual language to tell that story is the next phase of content marketing.


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