It’s an undeniable fact that in today’s digital marketing world, visual content is king. Image-led social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have never been so in demand, and with newer kids on the block Periscope and Boomerang following close behind, the power of a visual cannot be understated.
However, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this phenomenon isn’t that new a thing. After all, the notion that ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ has been woven into our collective conscience for hundreds of years – so why has visual content only become so unquestionably dominant in the last few?
To contextualise this incredible growth, according to mylio.com, it’s estimated that 3.8 trillion photos were taken in all of human history until mid-2011, and 1 trillion in 2015 alone. Whilst Generation Y enjoyed the first real revolution in instant word messaging with SMS and email, our current teenagers are communicating almost solely using Instagram and Snapchat. #picsoritdidnthappen, one of the most popular social hashtags of recent times, perfectly illustrates the importance of visual evidence to support content of any form.
This could be partly explained by the huge advancements in image messaging that have come about in the last 10 years – whereas uploading a quick cityscape with Valencia filter takes mere seconds, in the 90s and early 00s it was a very different story (MMS anyone?) Let’s just say, a swift selfie speaks a thousand ‘gr8’s’ or ‘c u 2nite’s’.
What’s more, this obsession with all things visual looks like it’s here to stay. Inc.com estimates that by 2018, 84% of all communications will be visual. This is backed up by recent research from buffer.com, showing that Tweets with images earn 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets. So, it’s pretty clear that to compete in today’s content marketing industry, long, clunky articles need to make way for GIFs, photos, videos, memes, infographics and cinemagraphs.
But how can this be translated into tangible assets for the everyday business? It is nigh on mandatory for every company these days to be fully active on image-led social media, but isn’t always obvious how doing so can directly lead to more sales. What have we, SESOME, learnt? The most important way to approach visual content is to consider it not as an opportunity to sell your product or service, but yourself instead. Use it to create an identity that people can relate to on a personal level. Companies no longer only have to compete with each other on what they offer professionally, but also on promoting a lifestyle and set of values that they represent. Believe it or not, this can be achieved with a few well chosen visuals. Just don’t use the Valencia filter.