Alicia Lawrence

Writing Pixelated: Visual Content for Generation Y

By: Alicia Lawrence | May 9, 2013 | 

Writing Pixelated: Visual Content for Generation YThe busy, digital lifestyles of Generation Y are forcing the web to become more visual.

Visual content is processed in the brain 60,000 times faster than text, according to 3M Corporation.

Social media, the driving force of the digital world, thrives on visuals because they are easy to share on major networks such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Catchy headlines, bulleted lists, and content written with the “F” pattern in mind are still an essential part to communicate and connect with digital users today.

But, while writing is still a major factor in the success of your content strategy, without good visuals you may fail to keep your younger readers engaged throughout the entire post.

Creating Visual Content

High Quality Photos. Whether it’s an article or your homepage, it’s proven a smiling person on your website will increase conversions and reads. However, use good judgment as a corny photo can be a major turn-off to your reader. Photos should be real-feeling, appropriate, and topically relevant. Out of courtesy, always cite the photographer or source and when possible link back to the original picture.

Check out sites such as Creative Commons, Flickr, Stock.XCHNG, and morgueFile to find free images.

Infographics. These easy-to-digest, visual fact sheets are one of the best ways to present information. Even if you’re not an expert designer, consider making some sort of data visualization using free tools and templates from Piktochart or

For example look at Clarity Way Rehab Center’s blog where the majority of their posts have visual content: Infographics or educative animations. Infographics should be dense with facts but not overly cluttered. Your infographic should answer a question or have a goal of what you want your readers to learn.

Remember to cite your sources and include your own logo so your brand can receive credit as well. Lastly, make sure it is easy to share by providing an embed code and pushing it out through social media.

Videos. The vice president of global content at YouTube, Robert Kyncl said in his keynote address at CES that soon video will be 90 percent of Internet traffic. Twitter allows you to share mini videos using their app Vine. If you don’t have a camera, use motion graphics or funny animation like this international background investigation company put together.

It doesn’t have to be the best quality video to get views, but humor and/or applicable information helps.

Memes. Memes are pictures or short clips with humorous words superimposed on top of it. Usually the picture and portions of the phrase gets used over and over again with a different comedic twist. They are easy to put together and highly shareable, which will lead people back to your content.

Top Rank used the following popular meme to illustrate a major point in one of their articles, which also made it memorable.

Meme Example









Typography. Overuse of fancy fonts can kill a website. Use them sparingly – like salt – to spruce up a headline, quote, or important fact. Quozio is a free and easy tool to help you quickly make important information visually appealing.

Be Creative. The Internet is constantly evolving so don’t worry about sticking to a cookie cutter form. Use visuals in moderation, but don’t be scared to push the envelope and experiment to find the best visuals to communicate effectively with your audience.

Keep in mind these four underlying reasons for using visual content:

  • To attract the user to read it.
  • To allow them to quickly and easily understand the material.
  • To make something memorable.
  • To make your information easily sharable.

What would you add? Do you use visual content in your marketing efforts?

About Alicia Lawrence

Alicia Lawrence works for WebpageFX - the best SEO company (in her humble opinion). WebpageFX is a full-service Internet marketing company offering innovative web marketing solutions to mid to large size companies across the globe. Alicia also blogs at MarCom Land in her free time.

  • I love this post Alicia. I am going to be creating content for my own blog again regularly and hopefully for two of a client’s so the photo resource is great. I have used flickr before. 
    My one caution is infographics. 99% of them contain false data or misleading. I have been at war with the creators of them. In fact my motto is never trust an infographic. I just blogged about this Tuesday. The sources used for the data are often screwy. I had two big name social media people say it is ok if an infographic is false when I complained ones they posted had bad data. One who is a mega big name said ‘its ok people expect marketers to lie’ the second who is an AdAge 100 blogger said since he didn’t create it he doesn’t have to check it for accuracy.  this one I just wrote. and I caught Ad Week of doing this
    Sadly this is a problem because visually they are great. So maybe a caveat to check your data and sources before you create them.
    As for videos have you seen the @GiniDietrich movie?

    • Sorry moving my blog to word press I guess doesn’t work for video content

      • Howie Goldfarb HAHAHHA! Look how old that is!

        • ginidietrich I know huh!You have totally different hair now 8)

        • Howie Goldfarb ginidietrich “…but eventually I had issues with authority….” 

    • Howie Goldfarb Definitely a huge problem. In my new job I see this from both ends, marketers who simply want a quick return, and individual businesses who want to stretch the truth because it’s convenient for them. 
      The cost in the long run is high because once you’ve got a rep as dishonest it doesn’t go away.

      • Alicia_Lw

        @joecardillo Very true, Joe! The sad part is many companies outsource their infographics to agencies, who for convenience and a fast turn around produce fancy but low quality infographics. In the end, the company pays for a product that could hurt them more than help. As producers of content for our client, we need to consciously make an effort to put quality on the forefront (sometimes regardless of deadlines).

        • Alicia_Lw I just had that exact conversation yesterday, good to see you’re combatting the fancy graphics with no point deluge. 
          On the other hand sometimes the graphics and the story are non-existent….

    • Alicia_Lw

      Howie Goldfarb Thanks, Howie! I have noticed the quality of information in infographics seems to be based on whatever data people can get to make a good story. 
      For public relations, infographics are created to be informative, honest, and (of course) entertaining to read. However, for SEO, one of the major players in the digital content creation world, the sole purpose of the infographic is to get links. Therefore, it has to have a good story that people would want to spread regardless of the facts. 
      I’m not saying they make it up but they are not as careful as PR pros in obtaining their information from reliable sources. 
      Great articles with some very good points, Howie. Thanks for sharing!

  • I’ll be blunt, I think memes are funny, but I can’t take them seriously.

    I do agree on video, however. My newspaper is seeing monthly increases of video views of 18 or 19 percent or more. I think as we get better at video, and produce more of it, we’ll see more video views.

    • ClayMorgan I love video (obviously, having been in TV for so long) – BUT I have no time for things like Vine. Video needs to tell a story – just as much as copy and/or text does. Six seconds won’t even get you to hello!

      • Alicia_Lw

        belllindsay ClayMorgan  It would be interesting to see how Gen Y thinks of videos (in regards to storyline). I talked with one the other day that loved Vine! 
        Clay, I don’t think any memes are meant to be taken seriously. 🙂 Good to know that online newspapers are seeing an increase in video views. I’m curious to see in a year from now what the ratio will be of people reading to watching.

  • Thanks for sharing these sites and tools, Alicia – there are some here I haven’t come across before, and that’s always exciting.
    I confess to having to remember that people love video – I tend to do my computer-ing while “watching” TV and almost never watch video or listen to audio online as a result. This article is a good reminder to add visuals to my posts!

    • Alicia_Lw

      Kato42 You’re very welcome! Interesting, I do the opposite. My husband and I are going without a TV for a year so the only way we stay connected to that world is through online video/audio.

  • I should use more visual content. I’d go for infographics as I find them pretty useful even if unfortunately I’m not that good yet in making them. And SXC and Morguefile are definitely two place to go for free pics, many are of very good quality.

    As regards videos they are great in many ways, not so for non native English speakers, as well as webinars. I’d need a transcripat 95 percent of times. 🙂

    Good points, happy weekend!

    • Andrea T.H.W. Sometimes us native english speakers need transcripts too. 😉

      • belllindsay Andrea T.H.W. Google now has a simple pig latin conversion button.

        • Howie Goldfarb  Andrea T.H.W.  Eddaget uttagouta eddagear!!

    • Alicia_Lw

      Andrea T.H.W. Thanks, Andrea! Flickr, too, has a great resource in their digital commons. (Let me know if you have trouble finding it because it’s a little tricky.) 
      Good point about the non native speakers if they’re in your target audience!

  • rdopping

    So! That’s how it’s done. As a Gen X at the cups of the demographic (i.e. push the Boomer bubble) I have wondered why my wry repartee is not attracting as many eyeballs. I would have to post something occasionally too. Sheesh.
    Thanks for the tips. Great stuff.
    Do you think Gen Y still reads?

    • rdopping No they don’t Ralph. I read a study recently about that, and mentioned it in a blog post. My son would rather stab both his eyeballs out than read a book – I’m a VORACIOUS reader. It’s sad.

      • rdopping

        Haha. That’s it! I am now going to start blogging again with only pictures of words. Let’s see if that tricks some of them into reading.

      • belllindsay rdopping That makes me really sad too, there’s something about reading that just can’t be replicated by any other medium.

      • melissdelong

        belllindsay rdopping Have to chime in and disagree with this one! As a Gen Y-er, I hate being generalized based on age. I read very quickly, and typically complete books the same day that I start them. I prefer physical books to e-books and will read pretty much anything that is put in front of me. Just my 0.02!

        • rdopping

          melissdelong belllindsay rdopping No doubt there is a bad apple in every crowd. There you have gone and done it. You’ve just ruined the preconceived notion that all GenY types are exactly alike. 😉

        • rdopping melissdelong belllindsay I guess now I have to start reading since Melissa’s ruined our reputation

    • Alicia_Lw

      rdopping GenY covers quite a large age gap and reading habits differ among everyone. I know personally, as being part of the Millennial Gen, I read 🙂 but I do have a tendency to skim to see if it is worth my time to read in detail. However, from previous research I’ve done for campaigns targeting Gen Y, I’ve learned they definitely would rather listen, watch or see visuals instead of read plain text.

      • rdopping

        Alicia_Lw rdopping Interesting. I wonder if us old folks are just slow to learn. I think you need to read 250 pages to really understand a topic but what’s stopping someone from disseminating the same content in a few hours of video? Can you get the same level of commitment to the depth of content in other media? Not sure. I do know that when I read a book that I am getting to the heart of a topic’s essence, that is if the writer is any good.

        • Alicia_Lw

          rdopping Alicia_Lw I wouldn’t say slow to learn just brought up differently. Plus, with old age comes wisdom, which is priceless (just ask MasterCard!)
          Once again, I think the learning process depends on the person and perhaps a little bit of learned behavior. If reading is the only way you have ever really learned then as you get older that will be your go to form of education. That is what your brain is use to. Of course, this is speculation. However, I have found when I studied an Adwords course with just reading blocks of text I didn’t pass the exam but when I watched videos for a SEO course with the same level of aptitude I got almost a perfect score. I spent about the same time on each.

        • rdopping

          Alicia_Lw rdopping Great points. Has me thinking about different ways to present ideas. I agree there is no utopia.

  • Did anyone mention that the meme is misused?

    • Alicia_Lw

      jelenawoehr Haha yes they have an entire subreddit dedicated to misused memes
      I think most people aren’t even aware of it. Seems like the original maymays (memes) have evolved into something else and just retained the name.

  • Alicia – good stuff, and some great tips.  
    At my new gig with we are thinking a lot about how to be there when people want and need us to be there (inbound marketing model). RebeccaTodd and others have talked here on SS about shifting marketing and sales to a more fun, engaging place and one that is easier for customers / prospects to engage with. 
    I think that idea resonates with what you’re saying here. We need to always remember we are trying to engage with humans. 
    The other thing this makes me think of is how people ask me all the time, “what good is a meme or viral video going to do for my business?” and the truth is, nothing unless it reflects your brand and your culture. You can’t skip the storytelling aspect, there are so many products and services out there (especially in marketing) that it is crucial to know what your story is.

    • Alicia_Lw

      JoeCardillo RebeccaTodd Hi Joe, I love that you have an inbound marketing model!  Very true!
      Well, the viral video and meme are good as linkbait, even if it is unrelated. But I agree that it is best for the company if the creative content reflects their brand. Kills two birds with one stone!
      Good luck with!

      • Alicia_Lw JoeCardillo RebeccaTodd Thanks! Coming from a PR/Marketing background I’ve seen people separate who does what, but the truth is SEOs, PR, and others are all talking about the same stuff from a different angle.

        • Alicia_Lw

          JoeCardillo Alicia_Lw RebeccaTodd Great statement there, Joe! I wrote an article today that I quoted you in. I’ll have to send you the link when it’s published.

        • Alicia_Lw JoeCardillo RebeccaTodd Lucky me =)

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  • ArneVanroose

    Your use of meme is bad and you should feel bad. (And, this, dear people,  is also a meme)

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