In 2012, Pinterest broke out and paved the way for visual content marketing to emerge as the biggest trend in 2013.
Visual content marketing allows businesses to quickly communicate with always-connected customers, give them never-before-seen looks at its operations, and create a personal connection.
Here are five takeaways from my book InstaBRAND that show how leading companies are making the most of visual content marketing:
1. A Return To Tradition (Of Sorts)
This year, the visual medium will regain prominence over the written word (blogs). This is in part to increased mobile usage, responsive design, social networks, and mobile commerce.
Twitter is showing signs of age. While its 140-character limit beats blogging, it is still more difficult to use words to create the context that a photo does. Yes, Twitter has photos, but the user experience is often overly complicated when compared to Instagram’s strategy to keep it simple.
Apps and filters make it easy for even novice photographers, brand managers, and social media managers to quickly create touchpoints across multiple networks to attract, engage, and retain paying customers and brand advocates.
B2B marketers will finally be less hesitant to use video as a tactic, but photography will lead the way due to its low production cost and ease of use for contextual distribution.
2. Access All Areas
Consumers now have more access to a brand’s behind-the-scenes activities than ever before, which will translate to a truer form of transparency and customer loyalty. Before mobile photo sharing apps like Instagram, it might normally take a couple of days for a project manager to schedule a photo shoot and wait for post-production. Now, we are returning to the immediacy of Polaroid.
The digital Millennial is not necessarily looking for the perfection of high fashion photography. Millennials are a smart bunch and have become their own gatekeepers/tastemakers in choosing what they see as real and fake. Unless the brand has really great products (e.g. Apple) and services (e.g. Southwest Airlines), they will change the channel when it comes to a consistently flawless presentation because they know that it is not real.
Brands that mix up high-fashion visuals with the look of analog filters shot from a smartphone make it more believable. Add in crowdsourcing of brand events (e.g. Summer Olympics 2012) or products, and it solidifies customer retention and advocacy.
3. Images Add Value
Between the average consumer’s attention span being seven seconds and their being inundated with content, there will be a shift from pushing content to pushing relevancy and context. Studies are showing that visual storytelling sees higher returns on engagement than the written word, due in part to a shift away from information overload.
The end user has become their own boardroom CEO in that they have to make quick judgments of what is valuable in terms of relevancy and context as it relates to content.
Do I have time to read the report or do a couple of charts give me enough information? Do I read a blog or do I watch it while on my way to the airport, in a cab? Good managers cover all the bases and great leaders find ways to be more productive in learning and doing.
Instead of pushing out content for the sake of pushing out content, brands will have to think about creating value-adding pieces by keeping context top-of-mind. Consistency in visual storytelling is the quickest way to do this.
4. Continued Growth
Much like the popularity of the personal computer that made billionaires out of Applem, and Microsoft a household name, the future generation’s device of choice will be the laptop, tablet and smart phone.
5. Big Data Equals Big Opportunities
As the network continues to grow, marketers and brand managers will invest more money into Instagram. Third party enterprise vendors like Venueseen (CRM), Nitrogram (Statistics/Analysis), and a multitude of print service providers will use the tool to personalize the brand engagement and storytelling experience.
While there is no silver bullet for marketers with new social platforms seemingly cropping up every six months, third party enterprise platforms will help to drill down into consumer behavior for a qualitative and quantitative approach to maximizing revenue.
Hashtags and GPS tagging are just the beginning of available information to advertisers. Expect Facebook to lend its Open Graph expertise to the Instagram crew for building better insights that marketers and advertisers will be willing to pay big money for. One such company already working with Instagram is social/mobile commerce startup Chirpify. Social shopping from your smartphone by liking a product picture will be the next step in monetization.