Creating Visual Connectivity for Increased Engagement

Screenshot from   Moda City's   recent video for Vancouver. See the actual video below.

Screenshot from Moda City's recent video for Vancouver. See the actual video below.

The need for great visual content is on the rise if you want your product, service, movement or policy to make a positive impact today and flourish.

Straight out promoting is giving way to content marketing, aka storytelling marketing, or even "helpful tips" marketing as the public becomes savvier about how they make choices about how to spend their time and their money.

Video is where visual content is moving to, especially short videos.

This can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you're a small team (or say a team of one, as I often am), or on a tight budget, or both.

That's why I like to use the framing tool of visual connectivity to edit my various communications pieces. It's the second of the four ways I use "framing" as an editing tool to create more engaging communications and storytelling.

Whether you're going to use stock imagery and graphics, or create your own images, graphics and videos from scratch, you can use "framing" to break things down into far easier and more doable baby steps.

Visual Framing Questions to Ask Yourself

1. Does this visual (video, photo, graphic, etc.) I have in mind make emotionally engaging sense for the communication or story I want to use it for?

Whether you want to portray happiness and well-being, or alarm to inspire action, your visual imagery or video work best if they match your tone.

In the video above REI breaks down how easy it is to make your own granola bars in a very cleverly made video, and reinforces their focus on being helpful to those who want to get outside more. By focusing on the ingredients and just the "hands" making them they've tremendously simplified the creation process for the video.

2. Does this visual I have in mind make sense considering the market or audience I want to attract more of?

If I want to attract more baby boomers to bicycling (who have the disposable income) maybe images of young men with beards on mountain bikes or super young super skinny urban hipsters aren't my best choices for models.

Or if you want to attract more women it might be a really good idea to focus 80% of your imagery on them.

From June 22nd to 24th, 2018, HUB Cycling will host its third annual #BikeToShop Days, an event designed to encourage more Metro Vancouverites to run errands by bike, and increase business support for better bicycle infrastructure. In addition to in-store discounts, celebration stations, curated rides, and tons of prizes.

3. Does the visual(s) I have in mind move my brand, movement, policy, product etc. in the direction I NOW want to go?

Is what I'm sharing moving me forward or backward in the story I want to tell about who we are and what we do?

Since 2012 the husband and wife creative team of Melissa and Chris Bruntlett ofModaCity have been creating fun engaging videos to showcase happy, healthier living through active, sustainable transportation.

Above is one of their 2018 pieces in collaboration with Hub for Bike to Shop Days: Downtown Vancouver.

>> Stage the background for your videos + images so they're more pleasing to look at.

ModaCity demonstrates the fun of biking to shop by sharing a day of shopping by bike with four preteen girls cleverly narrated by the President & CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement District. It's a very clever move.

In one swoop they illustrate beautifully the buy-in by the business district AND that biking can mean freedom for young people.

The storytelling is staged to shows off not only different scenes of downtown Vancouver well, but the local bike infrastructure as well.

This, by the way, is organized in advanced through a process called "storyboarding" which we'll delve into deeper in the future.

Instagram - benefit of bicycling.png

>> Consider creating templates

Whether you're creating power points for live presentations and webinars, or social media still images, graphics or video, you don't reinvent the wheel every time, consider instead using a template, or a series of them depending on the platform.

Templates can help you create a stronger brand presence with a consistent look and feel, and once they're set up, they can help you save substantial time.

You can baby step your way into this by testing fonts and color choices out first (and again for those new to graphic design is a great low-cost way to wade in).

As you know I'm in the process of developing a line of my illustrations as graphic clip art, cards, journals and other gifts to help support the work I do with Pedal Love.

I'm testing out different fonts so I can narrow it down to just 3 choices.

This way I'll make it easier to create social media cards quickly AND as I create products for sale I'll only have 3 fonts I need to have the rights to use.

Note: If you're going to sell items and use Canva you'll need to buy an extended license from them.


Finding the Courage to Tell Your Story

Courage Fear blog.png

This week I had the privilege of hosting a coaching session with a young woman from Australia who I believe has the talent to take their bike advocacy world by storm.

I can't tell you how exciting it was to talk to someone from the other side of the world about what's going on in her life, her advocacy efforts, and their greater bike advocacy world.

She absolutely has the potential and the passion to be a game-changing leader. And frankly the world needs her voice (and it needs yours too). But first she's got to find the courage to tell her story in multiple ways to a growing audience.

But isn't this really the challenge that most of us face?

In My Work I Find That...

>> We're afraid to tell our own true story or stories for fear people will criticize us and tell us our stories don't matter.

Everyone's authentic "why I do this work" story matters. No one can tell your story of why you're doing this work the way you can, don't make anyone else responsible for it.

And yes, you will encounter critics. But unless they have valuable advice to uplift you and help you get better at telling your story ignore them. Especially anyone who is being anonymous.

They're a coward and not worth your attention.

>> We're afraid to learn the skills to be really great storytellers and communicators and move beyond our current comfort level

We like our comfort zones. Often we get into a particular groove and want to stay there - and we want others to magically discover us and support us and promote us even if we're hard to find, or inconsistent with our outreach.

This is magical thinking. I know it well. It kept me trapped in a mindset that I was the sort that should promote others more from "behind the scene" rather than stepping forward myself.

I finally realized I can't ask people to be courageous and step forward with their stories if I don't step forward as an example myself. Thus this new video series!

>> We're afraid to ask for the opportunity to get up on larger and larger stages to share our stories to bigger and bigger audiences

All of this fear comes from a sense of unworthyness, that you're not the right age, shape, race, or from the right background or education level to truly excel.

What if every day you instead gave yourself your own #permissionslipfromgod or #permissionslip from the universe that you are worthy just as you are? That you are enough just as you are?

Only by accepting exactly where we are, with all of our fears and doubts can we actually move forward good, solid progress.  

1. Get Clear on Why You're Doing This Work

What gets you out of bed in the morning about what you're doing? 

I don't know about you, but I'm here to be a change agent.

I think you're a change agent too, even if you're finding it hard to say it out-loud.

Your 75% there, 85% there, and 95% there are someone else's 110%. I learned this from Lisa Nichols. 

Lisa Nichols is one of the most talented and effective motivational speakers on the planet. This former athlete and single Mom from a tough neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles rose from poverty to being one of the only African American women in the U.S. to have a successfully publicly traded company.

If you take the time to listen to her for just the first five minutes of this talk she'll change the way you think about yourself. If you listen for the whole thing you'll be on fire to begin telling your story in new and powerful ways.

Ok, now you're intrigued, you feel inspired. What's next?

2. Create Short Sweet Baby Step Improvement Goals

These goals can be daily, weekly, or monthly - or all three. What small incremental improvements can you make for each email newsletter, social media post, or live presentation?

The key is that they are very specific, that you understand what you're reaching for, and that they're measurable so you'll know if you've hit your mark.

You may have noticed that my email newsletters have been coming out at very different times lately. This is because I'm researching when is the most popular time for them to be opened. 

3. Be Clear On Where You Want Your Goals to Take You

My partner Charlie uses the lay down, stretch and visionary goal setting technique for this and it's a tool I use quite a bit.

I'm currently working with my friend Ryan Snyder on his goal of being a popular media spokes person on public policy and Autonomous Vehicles here in the U.S., and frankly around the world.  

Ryan absolutely has the chops for this visionary goal. He's been one of the thought leaders on active, sustainable mobility in the U.S. for the past 30 years, but he hasn't before systematically focused on media outreach the way we're doing together now.

Ryan is hosting the traveling "Autonomous Vehicle Policy Conference Series" with Transpo Group this year, and just this week he's featured in an in-depth article in The Wall Street Journal. You can download that article here.

What's the baby step towards finding your courage and telling your story that you can take today? Let me know!