The Evolution of Social Media for Visual Marketing

CnnI 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.

imagesSocial 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.

pinterest_smallThis 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 browniesengagement. 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.

graph search_fb

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.

SLF_Ebrand

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

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Who’s Using Social Media Anyway?

Facebook. Twitter. Google+. Pintrest, Instagram, LinkedIn. They all have become mainstream words we use in our everyday conversation. They have penetrated all forms of media including print, TV, radio, video and digital. It would almost seem strange not to hear or see those familiar icons.

Instagrampca_icon_linkedin_111w_116h googleplustwitter Copy of YouTubeCopy of pca_icon_facebook_111w_111h

For a long time, there seemed to be a perception that only younger people (under 25) were “on” social media. So why then are companies putting so much time, effort and money into using social media platforms for marketing, branding and engagement to a small segment of the population?

Think about it:

  • Almost every company, globally, is using a social media channel for branding and engagement
  • News channels use Twitter to solicit questions and comments
  • Commercials almost always have a “check us out on” Facebook or Twitter as part of their closing
  • For reality TV shows… Twitter is a staple
  • For mobile, social channels are readily available
  • Many web sites enable you use your Facebook, Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts to sign into other accounts such as Pinterest, TripAdvisor, etc.
  • Some companies provide the ability use your social accounts such as LinkedIn to apply for jobs.

So it’s not just young people who are using social media channels.

age_demographics

As social media becomes more intertwined with consumer marketing, recreational activities and personal transactions (such as banking), it encourages more people across a wider demographic to use these channels. Mobile technology also offers social media as a core part of their smart phones (including tablets) which make social media channels readily accessible and easy to use on the go.

In the last two years we can see a steady increase across all demographics of people using social media.

Edison-research-graph

No surprise that the highest usage is the under 25 age group. But what we are seeing is the year over year increase of people over 45 using social media. In just one year the 45-54 age group increased 10% shifting to more than half of that demographic now using social media channels. Another interesting observation is an 8% increase of those 65 and over using social media between 2011 and 2012.

The marketing of social media on traditional channels has increased conversion to use these channels and apps to engage and perform transactions. The upsurge in usage for those 55 and over may also be attributed to the way they have determined how the use social media. Research shows that as people get older they tend to take a more thoughtful approach to social media; separating their professional and personal social channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Friends and network connections tend to be people they know, instead of casual acquaintances.  Increased ability to control privacy settings also make people feel more secure about social networking and sharing information.

As more people start to use social media we also see them expanding and using a variety of different channels. If we think about personal usage on channels such as Facebook we can see in the chart below, there is a broad distribution of users across all demographics. If we look at LinkedIn, we can see more usage for those over 25, the highest among those in the over 55 age bracket. Twitter on the other hand has broader usage for those under 25 and the least amount of usage for those over 55. What they all have in common, are all demographics are using these channels, but at a different capacity, based on what they deem the channels are useful for. What we will start to see is a rise in channels like LinkedIn for those under 25 looking to build their professional profile.

social-media-demographics-age2

The results show us that social media is being used by all demographics. With technology making it easier to connect we can expect to see a continued rise in the number of “older” people using social media. This is key if you are thinking about possible avenues to market your products, services and jobs.

Consider where you could source your next new hire or business opportunity from using a social media platform.

Ann_Nov_2012

by Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy