I remember when CNN was first launched in 1980. Many people wondered how successful a specialty news channel could be. Would there even be enough content for a 24×7 channel? Almost 25 years later Ted Turner’s risk paid off, making CNN one of the most available and watched channels around the world. The success of that specialty channel paved the way for the television industry to think about marketing content for specific demographics. Other specialty channels soon followed such as MTV (1981), the Cartoon network (1992) and the Food Network (1993) just to name a few.
Social media is also evolving. Traditional social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and mobile platforms had limited image presence. Status updates, tweets and texts were quick ways to communicate. As a result specialty social channels started to emerge focusing on different types of media content. In 2004 Flickr was launched as a social site to store and share photos. Its popularity took off, but after Yahoo’s acquisition the product direction changed limiting its usage and availability. The launch of YouTube in 2005 offered a forum to communicate, teach and learn through video. Videos are publically available and accessible through search. Its success is astounding. More than 3 billion global views a day and more than 48 hours of video uploaded every minute.
This availability of visual content (images and videos) has shifted the way people view and seek information. If someone wanted to learn how to change their privacy settings on Facebook, they would probably download a video on YouTube that shows them how to do this. Most people now prefer this approach rather than reading pages of instructions. Even bloggers have started to use images to help attract readers to their content. The desire for visual content has resulted in social media channels now using image content as the primary interaction point.
The launch of Pinterest and Instagram in 2010 and Google+ images in 2011 are great examples of how social media continues to evolve to solicit interaction and foster engagement. One may wonder, like in the early days of CNN, what traction can Pinterest or Instagram have? Images evoke an emotional response. In the words of Fred Barnard “A picture is worth one thousand words”. If you’ve used Pinterest you’ll know you can search, view and “pin” images to a board to visualize your dream kitchen, your favourite foods, shoes, clothes, travel destinations, the list goes on. That emotional response has a powerful draw that keeps people coming back. Think about the brownie picture on the right from Pinterest you’ve been eyeing, what feeling does it evoke?
In only two years Pinterest has developed a huge following, to the tune of 1.9 billion global page views per month, making Pinterest a marketing goldmine.
2013 saw many social platforms make updates to expand its use of images and graphs. Facebook launched its Graph search allowing users to create broader searches on images, videos and other content. LinkedIn removed its partner applications and replaced it with the ability to add video and images from websites directly onto your own personal profile. Twitter also launched its video app Vine, allowing users to embed 6 seconds of video into tweets.
Innovative employers have realized that visual product and company branding marketed through social media channels builds followers through emotional connections. According to www.mdgmarketing.com the impact of articles featuring compelling images averages 94% more total views than those without.
Recruitment functions can also realize the benefits of image marketing through employment branding. Adding employment branding images and/or videos to postings, communications and social media presence can increase reach to potential candidates. Recruiters should leverage their LinkedIn profiles as front line employment brand ambassadors of the company. Every time a prospective candidate looks up information about a Recruiter, employment and/or company branding should be part of what they see to build that emotional connection with the company.
So, consider the opportunities your company can have using visual marketing build your customer base and attract talent.
by Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy