Instaphotos (Instagram), Twitteos (Vine), Google+ Hangouts, Pinterest. It’s no doubt that if Madonna wrote ‘Material Girl’ this year, the lyrics would have stated, “…Cause we are living in a visual world”. Perhaps ‘Vogue’ is a better fit for our current soundtrack. It’s no doubt that visuals are becoming more important for content marketing. Sites like The Daily Egg, Heidi Cohen, and even Fast Company provide ideas for sharing visual content and the numbers to back up a case that pleasing-to-the-eye content captures and keeps the attention of more online users, and may even be key drivers for sales, and these numbers continue to rise. Take, for example, this excerpt from the ROI Research Study in 2012 reported by Fast Company:
Forty-four percent of respondents are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media. Pictures have become one of our default modes of sorting and understanding the vast amounts of information we’re exposed to every day.
That second sentence is key. Pictures help us find a focal point in an online world overflowing with information and more than enough tools at our disposal to consume it on. I am a visual person. And some may argue that most are. Even though I write professionally and personally, I can relate to an image and become interested in the associated article much quicker than if I have to dive in to the words to discover the ideas presented within.
I’ve seen this in my work too. When sharing information from the company blog that I edit and manage, our Facebook posts that include engaging photos attain significantly higher reach than those that simply include links or the auto-populated thumbnail that comes with sharing a link. (Note, photos with superheros and vibrant colors may be the key to success, still testing this!)
Because of this recent shift, I recently challenged our team to find a way to create our own images (versus searching for a pre-existing Google image) to accompany each blog post (despite only one team member being trained in photography and with graphic design skills). So, now, we naturally tend to turn to snapping photos of something we’ve written, drawn, created, or acted out. Heck, one of our team members pretended he was falling down the stairs for a post about causes for search engine rankings falling – taking one for the team, I’d say! We’ll often snap our setting or idea on our smartphones – it’s so simple to create a digital visual these days and email it to ourselves for inclusion on the blog.
It’s also interesting to see a possible contest between still images and interactive video on the social media landscape. Of course, the more video that’s generated, the more space we’re taking up on the servers we save them on or even in the cloud perhaps, but the proof is in the video that people like motion pictures.
So, I thought I’d highlight the benefits of integrating some proven and new visual social media tools into your business strategy:
Vine – Created by Twitter, smartphone users now have the ability to snap and share looping video clips on Twitter that are 6 minutes or less in length (keeping in line with the 140 character limit in Tweets).
– Showcase your business behind-the-scenes.
– Introduce new team members.
– Capture customer feedback and testimonials on film at conferences and demos (or ask customers to Tweet them in) long enough to create value, short enough not to lose the viewer’s attention.
– Challenge job applicants to send in their most creative 6 second application.
– Run a contest and have applicants send in their entries in the form of Vine videos.
*One unique feature I didn’t expect was that the videos begin playing automatically when you scroll over it in the app, you don’t have to click it to start the video, which drew me in immediately.
Google just announced a new feature and app – Google Capture – for those wanting to capture memorable still moments of Google+ Hangouts (video chats for up to 10 people). While it can be beneficial to record and re-watch video chats with family, friends, or client meetings, it can also be helpful to capture images without having to create a screen shot of these moments for sharing on social channels and marketing materials, or even customer relationship building. Coming soon to Google+ Hangouts near us, I’ll be curious to see how this works and how businesses will use them. Some ideas include:
– Archive and review virtual business or sales meetings.
– Keep track of interviews when reviewing candidates (of course, I would recommend the business ask the applicant for permission to snap their photo during the video hangout).
– Capture highlights or document virtual internal or external training sessions.
Instagram – Okay, this one made it to the list today because my Dad joined it today. (Hi, Dad.) Instagram reports that it
has over 100 million users each month. I think they capture this rising visual content world accurately on their Instagram
for Business blog:
It’s easy to see this as an accomplishment for a company, but I think the truth is that it’s an accomplishment for our community. Now, more than ever, people are capturing the world in real-time using Instagram—sharing images from the farthest corners of the globe. What we see as a result is a world more connected and understood through photographs.
So how can businesses use Instagram to engage their audience and their stories?
– Enlist super-users, celebrities, or your top fans to share their experiences in your industry or with your brand with a specified hashtag (#keyword).
– Showcase the process for making your products from farm to table, from recycling to production, from warehouse to store.
– Preview your newest products for your Instagram or social media followers and ask for feedback.
Pinterest – As of October 2012, Pinterest was reported to be the third largest referral source of website traffic (behind Google and Facebook). This is an important statistic that instantly proves the business value and credibility of the tool beyond simply a hobby feeder. I plan to write more about this topic in the future, but to keep with the theme of this post, here are a few ways businesses can use it to achieve goals:
– For retailers or e-commerce sites, pin your products from your website (don’t upload images directly) to your Pinterest page and your website will automatically be embedded in the pin. Include the name, description, sizing, color, and pricing information and those browsing for items in your category on Pinterest can click directly to your site from there.
– Feature your employees by pinning their pictures and bios from your company website to your Pinterest page to add personality.
– Create boards for your employees and encourage them to showcase their personality, interests, and their favorite business resources to their own boards to encourage internal engagement and a creative culture.
– Prospect for future clients by searching on Pinterest and connecting with them. If you have boards created for their industry, repin, comment or follow them to build a relationship online and get to know about them to make your sales meeting more personalized.
– Search the Pinterest Popular page for trending topics and pins for content ideas for your blog or images you can share that may be relevant to those following or interested in those trends for more pins and website traffic.
– If you already have an account, don’t forget to upgrade to the new Pinterest design and use the new Pinterest Analytics platform to track website visits from Pinterest, pin and follower activity. Chicago’s Lightspan Digital dives into the Analytics platform for more info on what it captures.
What visual tools is your company using to grab the eyes of prospects, customers, partners, and employees?