TALKING POINTS: Visual Social Media
I tweeted a fast Company article yesterday, titled The Rise of Visual Social Media, which raises an interesting trend – that photos are superseding words as the backbone of content. For several reasons, the article resonated with me, not the least of which is my own perspective and use of social media has gravitated towards visual of late, and that as a visual communicator, it brings social media closer that much closer to my expertise.
On the flip side, an underlying theme that gave me pause was it’s contrasting of the “content is king” mantra vs. “a picture being worth a 1000 words”. While the article doesn’t declare a winner, I’ve always believed that “content” was all-encompassing of copy, imagery, video and design, and any serious shortfall in one would hobble the others. What experience tells me is that we are in the “elastic” phase of this trend, that in chasing technology we have shot past the sweet spot – the ideal content mix – and that savvy marketers will spring back to realise that imagery and content are not mutually exclusive, rather we need dynamic photography (illustration/video/design) framed by copy that is tactful and succinct.
The Marketing Spin.
It can’t be argued that we are a visual culture. Our ease with sharing pictures has far exceeded our comfort with sharing words, and I see visual social media as being a huge and permanent marketing evolution. The rise of superphones and tablets, apps and corresponding online communities, have created the ability to post high quality photography, with or without accompanying copy, instantaneously. There is a marked online response to the deluge of great photography, as evidenced by the astronomical rise of Instagram and Pinterest. The marketing punch this creates, the ability to share, include and foster audience participation can’t be understated for corporate storytelling.
What is equally crucial, is the recognition that even in relative spontaneity of visual social media, there must be strategy. Adopting visual social media must still advance your marketing goals, support your branding objectives and be a positive influence to your bottom line. As we saw with websites, blogs and conventional social media, it’s no longer enough to simply be involved, you need to compel your audience to involve themselves with you. The ability to blindly point, shoot and post will not outweigh the effect on the end user of a carefully considered photo framed with succinct copy will have. Put another way, the 1000 words in your picture will be worthless if not considered as carefully as 1000 words you would have written.
What it Means.
Visual Social Media layers new levels of content, and new dimensions of involvement over your traditional marketing responsibilities. The end goal — a strategy to attract, engage and compel your audience to a desired action — is still key, and continues to be the most important reason to work with creative professionals like myself. If you want to know more about integrating visual social media in your marketing, drop me a line.
Another interesting conversation on the topic occurred at LeWeb London 2012, and involved Kevin Systrom of Instagram and chef Jamie Oliver who is a growing fan of Instagram and visual social media. It’s a long watch, but entertaining and informative.