By adaptive - February 12th, 2014
Images and videos are surging to the front of the social pack, but here’s how do you get the best from your visual tools and platforms?
Social has become an essential part of the corporate machine. According to the Altimeter Group 78% of companies now have a dedicated social media team and over half of executives are informed, engaged and aligned with a social strategy. One arena into which the business is shifting with alacrity is visual social, the new game changer on the brand engagement front.
In this, the first of a three part series we are examining the tools of visual and how to really make them work for your business, You will also learn about the latest platforms for visual content and how to choose what fits your corporation’s brand.
Images, videos, infographics, memes, vines, flipagrams, comics – these are just some of the elements brands can use to tap into visual social media. These tools have seen remarkable growth over the past few years, and what better way to illustrate this than with an infographic that details the meteoric rise of the infographic.
“The visual age is upon us and the number of different visual content types is increasing,” says Charlotte Coltman, PR and Content Marketing Executive at Xuber. “The best way to use these tools is to keep your eyes on the new forms that others are using and identify those that best address your needs. Think about visual content you have enjoyed and look at how it can be applied to your business.”
In 2012 ROI Research did a study that showed that 44% of the respondents would engage with a brand if they used pictures. Women are more inclined to respond to pictures while men lean towards videos. Visual material is a powerful way of expressing ideas, emotions and information and can be used to really connect with the consumer, sometimes in areas that the business wouldn’t normally find such a connection. The potential for strengthening a brand and creating a story around it is staggering.
Tools of the trade
“Visual material offers a way to uniquely distinguish a brand from its competitors through content, tone, gradient, theme, colour and composition,” says Lana Strydom, Head of First National Bank Digital. “To maximise impact, the content has to resonate with the intended audience in a meaningful way, whether it is a marketing message or other information that’s being shared. Visual content should align to larger brand and corporate strategy and activities.”
Your brand has enough material to work with, so how do you determine which methodology is right for you? And how can you leverage it to maximum effect? According to Jaclyn Bold, CEO of Bold Connections and Business & Personal Branding Specialist, you need to find out what your customers want to find out more about and create content around their answers.
“Video is a great medium for business and Google loves video and it rates highly in organic search results,” says Bold. “Depending on the level of professionalism of your organisation, you may be able to take the videos yourself. There are some great video editing programs such as Sony Vegas and Camtasia that make it easy to do in-house. If your business needs a polished and ultra-professional image, make sure you do them with a specialist.”
A Pepsi MAX commercial that went viral in 2013 and became one of the most watched of the year is an excellent example of using the brand identity to tell a story and entrance the viewers.
Infographics are a big win for almost all markets so get them right before you release them. Use someone with the skills to create a bright and engaging graphic and ensure the information is interesting and informative. The Vanity Fair Best Infographics of 2013 ranking shows infographics that can guide you to do anything from find true happiness to the last thing famous people ate before they die. What makes these all stand out is their originality, focus on a core message and memorability.
“Images work well because of their ability to immediately elicit a response from a user from an emotional and psychological standpoint,” says Jason Perelson, Social Media Manager at Boomtown. “From a scientific standpoint, the human visual system has what is known as the Fusiform Facial area which is specifically for facial recognition and is a function that makes us associate a human face as a point for information and believability. Video alone sees a 74% increase in consumer understanding of a brand or service versus traditional media because of it.”
Images and movies and pictures all capture a moment and convey it instantaneously. The growth of mobile plays a powerful role in the growth of imagery as visual is easier to manage, take and share. If done well, one visual piece of content can carry your entire brand message beautifully and inspire the customer to find out more.
A platform of choice
If you were not already convinced that visual social would be the way of 2014, then perhaps the figures touted by Instagram and other such platforms will make you reconsider. Pinterest was the fastest growing content sharing platform of 2013 with many of the top brands shifting across to this hugely visual platform.
According to Mashable the most followed brands on Pinterest include Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens and Mashable themselves. And the number of platforms is also increasing almost on a daily basis with new pretenders including: Viddy, Pose, Vine, pheed, Thumb and Medium.
All of these are seen as rising stars in visual social, some are elite, others are inspirational, and they all rely heavily on visual to stand out and be noticed.
“The platforms themselves are incredibly varied and vast in number, each with their own advantages and disadvantages,” says Perelson. “The biggest question to ask is where to find the consumers and then take the messages there.”
Perhaps your brand will benefit from a six second Vine, or it would prefer a tumbling list of images on Tumblr? It will depend on what your customers read and what message your want them to take from your visual content. And any business can utilise the power of visual. General Electric stuck their machines into Pinterest and formed an incredibly popular community.
“Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Slideshare, Tumblr – these are all centred around visual content,” says Coltman. “Visual content is the most clicked and most often shared content. It’s common to see B2B companies shy away from social media platforms however there are ways to make any topic interesting to your audience, it just takes some creativity. Whatever you do, don’t be a dinosaur….it didn’t end well for them.”
June 2014, New York
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