Social media users often use the tag #foodporn when they want to share a picture of good food for their followers on Facebook and Instagram to drool over. [Your inner monologue: “Oh, that’s cool, but I don’t work in the food industry, so why are you telling me this?”]
Instagram is an increasingly popular photo sharing app… successful because we live in a visual era. We don’t have time for so much text anymore (plus, Instagram has filters that make your picture look like a million bucks). Brands need to take advantage of opportunities in visual platforms such as Instagram to better engage with their audience.
We live in a visual era because of the ubiquity of mobile devices:
Always being connected means we have less time in our busy lives, content is thrown at us too quickly to digest, and our need for immediacy has led to shorter attention spans. This has evolved how we have come to review social media.
Users are bombarded with loads of information every day, and using photos, animated GIFs, or infographics, is a new way of helping us to organize and absorb all that is being thrown at us.
More smartphones = more cameras with us all the time
People engage with social media more often on a mobile device, and with high-quality cameras on smartphones, posting pictures is easier than ever as it cuts out the step of converting images from a camera to the computer to then post to social media.
Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are prime examples of social networks capitalizing on increased engagement with visuals.
Facebook posts with visuals get more engagement than posts on average:1
Social media users are more likely to engage with posts from brands they “like” that have pictures than status posts.2
Why should you care about Instagram?
Do you care about Facebook? Facebook owns Instagram, after buying it for a cool $1 billion in 2012. Globally, the photo sharing app only took two and a half years to hit 100 million users, compared to the time it took Facebook (four years) and Twitter (five years).3,4Instagram recently expanded into video, allowing users to take, share, and edit 15-second videos. Here is an example of workout wear brand Lululemon taking advantage of the feature. This video enhancement encroaches on Twitter’s 6-second first-to-market video sharing platform Vine, but Instagram has ten times more users than Vine, so it may be wiser for brands to put the investment into an Instagram video.5Pinterest: not just for women planning their fictional weddings
Pinterest is a photo-bookmarking site, which does actually have the largest gender discrepancy of the major social networks, as women are five times more likely to be on the site than men.6 However, Pinterest was the fastest standalone site in history to reach 10 million users.7
Pinterest is a hyper-visual destination that allows users to quickly scan mass amounts of visual content in large thumbnail form. This style differs from the Instagram and Facebook platforms, which host more of a single-image-at-a-time scrolling experience.
Your next step: Find out how many of your customers are on these platforms. Ask yourself (and your agency), how can I use these channels to engage with my customers? Even if these channels are not in the cards for my plan this year, is there another area where visual storytelling can be leveraged? Have my competitors jumped on this visual trend?
Still not convinced that your brand needs a presence in social media? Search engines now take into account social sharing and interactions, so not having a social presence and neglecting to institute social sharing can negatively affect organic traffic to your site.8 More visuals = more engagement = more traffic.
Check out Urban Outfitters for a good example of a brand being on top of the visual trend in social media:
For more on this example, read about how the company first started experimenting with Instagram last year.
Have socially-connected kids in your life and want to sound in-the-know? Here is some more lingo:
- #selfie = picture taken of yourself, by yourself
- #nofilter = picture is so good, it did not necessitate use of one of Instagram’s many filters
- #tbt = “Throwback Thursday,” where users post pictures from the past on Thursdays
- #ootd = “outfit of the day” – you can take a picture of what you’re wearing every day…and people will actually care
- Pew Research Center: The Demographics of Social Media Users – 2012, Feb 14, 2013: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Social-media-users.aspx
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