When it comes to the most downloaded apps in the United States, it’s no surprise to see that three of the top five applications incorporate a significant visual element. Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are all within the top five; largely fueled by our interest and passion for pictures. At the end of the day, aren’t we all amazing photographers? At least that’s what phone companies make us believe.
While many of the photos that we see daily on these platforms involve cats, food, selfies and people that seem to be on vacations all year long, there’s a huge opportunity for brands to unleash their creativity and tap into the booming visual-obsessed environment that we live in today.
Here are five explicit reasons why I believe social media visuals can bring your brand to the next level:
1. We process images significantly faster than text
If you’re not using great visuals on social media, you may be missing out on opportunities to grow your brand. Think about this: 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain comes from visuals. As a result, the brain has developed the ability to process an image seen for just 13 miliseconds. Crazy, right? With this stat in mind, it should come as no surprise that 65 percent of today’s senior marketers believe visual assets are vital to how their brand story is communicated.
2. Humanizing your brand leads to engaged customers
Let’s face it: not all brands are super exciting. While it’s important to stay true to the brand on social media, photography and video presents “less-exciting” brands with an opportunity to add a human element and increase the engagement factor.
Website collateral such as data sheets, whitepapers and solutions pages may be best-suited for a more “business-like” approach, while social media allows for brands to surprise customers, engage in conversations, show a sense of humor and blend both online and offline experiences.
When thinking of “less-exciting” brands that do a great job of leveraging photography on social media, my mind tends to go straight to the Instagram profiles of FedEx and Reynolds Wrap. FedEx asks its users to submit photos of the brand “in the wild,” while Reynolds Wrap thinks outside the box by emphasizing the variety of things you can make with their product, rather than focusing on the product itself. Both have some amazing shots that put their brands in context with our everyday lives. In a nutshell, they use imagery to show relevancy and there is nothing more important for a brand that being relevant.
3. Brands that leverage user-generated content (UGC) might achieve cost-savings as well
Establishing a relationship with your brand loyalists on social media could lead to cost savings for your organization. Simply requesting permission to use photos of fans interacting with your brand’s products can eliminate the need for expensive stock photo licenses.
Doing so will also allow your brand to replace outdated image libraries with new and fresh visuals daily. With user-generated visual content, brands have a much broader set of options and don’t have to only depend on models and photoshoots to bring real-life use cases to the table that can be leveraged for advertisements or other branding opportunities. One important point in here: always give the credit of those images to your customers, make them part of the process and be proud to have taken a great image that now you’ll like to use for broader promotional purposes. #BeTransparentAndGiveCredit
4. Images are a reflection of your brand
Think about this: you’re scouring the web to find the perfect dinner spot for your next night out and you’ve narrowed it down to two options. You check the available reviews and ratings, and you still can’t decide.
Now, you click into each restaurant’s website and various social media profiles.
The first option’s digital entities have photos that look like they were captured on the owner’s flip phone from the early 2000s. The second has sharp, professional images of dishes that look as appetizing as can be. The choice is easy now, right?
The point here is that an image is very likely to be the first thing a digital customer sees representing your brand, and a first impression can’t be turned around. Using great images in social media will give off a positive sense of professionalism that could in fact be the difference between converting a prospect into a customer.
5. Images can be used to drive sales
There is a very simple truth here: more (of the right) eyeballs equate to more opportunities, and hopefully more sales. In the early days of social media, brand leaders wanted viral content – but virality is unpredictable, hard to achieve (unless your last name is Kardashian) and may not convert a single sale. You don’t need all social users to see your content, just the right ones. Social media gives brands the opportunity to speak directly to their target audience. Aside from audience targeting and attractive titles, imagery can be used strategically to draw in the right audiences.
Another way to tap into the sales potential of social media photography is by adding a call to action in the description or image captions. This could be something as simple as “Tell us what you think”, “what’s your version of this” or more commercially oriented such as “Shop now” or “Subscribe to our newsletter.” However, the call to action should feel organic and should relate to the post itself. Remember, not every social media post needs to convert into sales, but every post needs to increase customer engagement.
Social media photography and other visual assets can be leveraged by brands to boost consumer engagement with your brand, increase brand recognition and drive sales. These are just some of the reasons brands should think about how they’re using social media imagery – giving serious thought to how your brand uses visuals on social media can take your brand to the next level!
In the meantime, have fun with the 48 million pictures of cats at #CatsOfInstagram.
How have you incorporated visuals into your social media strategy? What success have you had? Tell us your story in the comments below.