Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

The visual shift in social media, online brands and marketing

Pictures generate more response

The old mantra “a picture is worth a thousand words” is so true. Even more so in today’s clutter of communication channels and information overload. We’re seeing a visual shift in social media, digital marketing, and online branding.

The visual shift in social media and online with Windows 8Social media studies continually note that pictures draw more response and shares than text posts. The new look in websites requires dominance of visuals instead of text. And the introduction of Windows 8 demonstrates a new form of navigation, choosing from a visual system of color, brief text and pictures and not a drop-down menu of text. It’s a visual shift in social media, and how we’re relating to information.

The visual and verbal brand is integral to effective marketing.

And the visual brand is more than the logo or identity system–it requires a visual vocabulary, a system of colors and images that build a total impression. A consistent “look and feel.”

The ability to instantly communicate through imagery now seems to transcend everything for businesses–for content creators, for e-commerce companies, for mass brands. Facebook, the most popular website out there, decided that images are more important than the written word when it put a cover photo at the top of pages. Instagram has developed technologies that make images load faster and faster. We now understand that humans can parse tons of visual information quickly. The ratio of your time to your satisfaction is high.  Joe Stewart, Creative Director, Huge (in April 2013 Fast Company)

“In January, Facebook announced that it has 240 billion photos total. With Instagram, there are 40 million photos uploaded every day. Photos are becoming the default of communication.”
Loren Appin, director of growth, Pixable, an application that personalizes the photo-sharing experience

Read the articles in Fast Company discussing the visual shift, the changes in our communications here. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/174/gannett-airbnb-pixable

We’re not the only ones (by far) noting this shift to a visual/picture-based presentation of information, navigation and more. Check out these stats from HubSpot:

 8 Stats from HubSpot

1) 44% of users are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media. (Source: ROI Research)

2) As of 2012, YouTube now streams 4 billion online videos every day. (Source: Reuters)

3) In August 2012, Instagram (7,302,000) surpassed Twitter (6,868,000) for daily active mobile users, an 8.5-fold increase in 6 months. (Source: comScore)

4) Photos and images on Facebook generate 53% more Likes than the average post. (Source: HubSpot)

5) Pinterest is now the 4th largest traffic driver worldwide. (Source: Shareaholic)

6) In just 8 months, online photo editor PicMonkey averages 1.6 million visits per day and 4.3 million images edited per day. (Source: PicMonkey)

7) Over 80% of pins on Pinterest are repins. (Source: RJMetrics)

8) Engagement from Instagram users is as much as 10 times greater than other platforms. (Source: CEO David Atkinson, SumAll.com)

The visual shift in social media is driven by online picture sources like Foap

From Fast Company – Foap Helps Sell Photos to Companies–But Members Get Control And A Cut

As a designer by training, marketer by choice, I have always seen and appreciated the power of a strong visual system and bold, compelling imagery–photos, graphics or illustrations. Yet those concepts seem even more important in today’s world of fast scanning, short attention spans and quick clicks through information.

From an article in the April, 2013 issue of Fast Company:

Facebook acquired Instagram for $715 million. Pinterest hit 2.5 billion monthly page views. We’re living in image-obsessed times. How should businesses adapt?

What does this mean to you as a marketer or business owner/manager?

Think visual, shift your social media to pictures over text. Avoid long dense pages of boring text … in ads, on your website or in a brochure. Choose photos or graphics, create charts and graphs, think in pictures instead of words. Here are a few ideas to create more visually compelling content, even when it’s text:

  • Use free online sources of photography to add photos to social posts.
  • Use the same source to create memes, with text over images or graphics. It’s easy to do in PowerPoint.
  • Build more color into your website, use larger photos and cut the amount of text.
  • Use charts and graphs to illustrate complex information and tell a story with stats.
  • Turn facts and figures into graphics for “at-a-glance” understanding.
  • Create a visual vocabulary, a collection of images that have a consistent style and represent your brand.

And when it comes to copywriting, keep it simple and brief!

  • Keep sentences short and paragraphs brief, especially online.
  • Use subheads with verbs in them, suggest action.
  • People will normally read headlines, captions and subheads first–build your story with these nuggets.
  • Simplify the number of words used to explain, encourage, entice and engage.
  • People scan websites instead of reading. Make your information scannable with these tips.

It can seem overwhelming at times … how to get your information out there and offer content people are looking for when there’s limited time and resources. Yet it will make a huge difference in audience perceptions and marketing response. What are your audiences looking for? What will they respond to? Start with translating your information into simple visuals.

Here’s a good tool and reference:

Not a graphic designer? But need to design content and information? An excellent resource from HubSpot, “The 10 Commandments of DIY Design for Marketers”: http://www.slideshare.net/HubSpot/matts-export-the-10-commandments-of-do-ityourself-design-for-marketersp

It’s a constant challenge,  developing and presenting information that will reach and engage the audiences you’re targeting. The new mantra? Make it visual. You’ll connect more quickly and effectively.

An optimized brand drives ongoing response.

Positioning your content, company, products and services to appeal to your target audiences is essential to an optimized brand. Connecting in the channels where they communicate, providing what they need to know is the focus and purpose. Reach them where they choose to take action.

Our “10 Steps to Optimize Your Brand” e-book will tell you more and give you an overview of how to optimize your brand to increase response from the right people.
Download the e-book - 10 Steps to Optimize Your Brand

What are your thoughts? How are you bringing more visuals into your communications, both offline and online?

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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