Visuals Get Social
With the rise of Instagram and Pinterest, social network creators are following suit. In 2012, Pinterest hit 10 million monthly unique users faster than any site in history. On Twitter, text-heavy tweets now go beyond 140 characters, allowing users to view photos without leaving the feed. Facebook is moving toward visuals, too, increasing the importance of visuals in the news feed. Photos are one of the key EdgeRank factors determining the reach of a post.
And with 80 million Instagram users and 11 million on Pinterest, people are creating and sharing images like crazy. And in a world where memes and GIFs rule content, your news feed is even more visual than a few photos of your acquaintance’s latest meal.
Content Creators: The Image Factory
The trend-driver can be found at the heart of content creation, the creators themselves. The content we’re creating and sharing is now based on visuals. With more smartphones in more hands, we’re snapping pics on the go and uploading them instantly, forgoing digital cameras. In a 2011 survey by Prosper Mobile Insights, an overwhelming 44% of people admitted their mobile device has replaced a digital camera. As such, at the end of 2011, sales of point-and-shoot cameras were down 20% in the U.S. and 30% in the United Kingdom, and have continued to decline.
Brands and the Imagesphere
For brands, a stronger visual presence means more engagement. On Facebook, posts that include an album, photo or video increase engagement by 180%, 120% and 100%, respectively. In search, 60% of consumers are more likely to contact a business if an image shows up. And on product sites, 67% of consumers say the image of a product is very important, compared with 53% who say the online reviews. It can also mean more referral traffic. A year ago, Pinterest accounted for less than 1% of social media e-commerce referrals. Now it accounts for 26%.
1. Invest in Visuals
One cost-effective image creation tool is Instagram. Across social, specifically, Instagram content is generating just as much engagement, if not more, as high-quality, costly photography – all while creating a sense of authenticity. And it’s as simple to create as tracking down someone with a smartphone and a good eye – two easy-to-find things in this day and age.
2. Create a Story for Your Audience
Especially where web development is concerned, the visual Web means being much more strict about choosing the single most persuasive message to greet visitors. No longer can sites get away with fragmented messages across 12 modules. People need to be sucked into the story immediately and guided along the storyline. The most engaging sites have already chosen for us where they want us to click, scroll and look long before we’ve landed on the home page – and they’re holding our attention much longer than the sites that present 12 forks in the road, making the journey entirely overwhelming. By choosing that engaging storyline and telling it with compelling visuals, a site can keep users’ attention and subtly persuade them along the way.