September 20th, 2012

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Visual Content and Imagery in Social Media

If you are active on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, you will see that there has recently been a huge shift to visual content.  Businesses are seeing a positive response and increased engagement with visual content sites.  Part of the appeal is coming from our desire to look at aesthetically pleasing images and sharing them with our friends, fans and followers.

It appears that this growing trend toward visual media is also highly influenced by the shifting habits of technology users.  With the rise of mobile, smart phones and tablets make it easy for users to capture moments and to share them via social network sites that are highly image-based, such as Instagram.  Visual communication, for the most part, is simple and not time consuming. Photo sharing is becoming the preference for many to keep others updated about their experiences, or to tell a story.

A 2012 study by TOI Research indicated that users really enjoyed looking at pictures and were more inclined to engage and share.  In fact 44% of participants from this study said that they were more likely to engage with brands if they posted pictures than any other media.  People tend to be more inclined to engage with visual content, hence the growing popularity of image sharing social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest.  These sites continue to enjoy rapid growth as visual communication becomes the preference for many over text content.  Photo and video posts on Pinterest are referring more traffic than Twitter, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn and Google+.  And with a new user signing up every second, Instagram is on track to reach 100 million users, with its popular photo-sharing app.  Many are now calling it “Instagram Nation.” This trend is also showing up on Facebook, as users are commenting, liking and sharing pictures more than standard text posts.  Also the Facebook Timeline overhaul places more emphasis on storytelling through photos and video than its old Facebook Wall.  The photos on Facebook Timeline are significantly larger, as is the very prominent cover photo displayed on profiles and pages.  According to Simply Measured for M Booth, on Facebook’s Top 10 brand pages, photos and video drive the most engagement.  Also, videos are shared 12x more than links and text posts combined, and photos are liked 2x more than text updates.

As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  We have seen this evidenced in the growing popularity of Infographics, which are basically images that contain graphics and text, including statistics about a certain subject.  It is often educational in some way and is usually done in a creative way, which makes it more interesting and fun.

Search engines are now also ranking content based on social conversations and sharing.  Smart brands should definitely use visual marketing on their social media networks.  Communicating online has become the standard and smart marketers should use visual imagery to drive engagement and awareness to their brands.

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