Keeping up with the social media Jones’

Everyone knows that age-old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words”.   So in today’s world where social media written content is king, where does that saying really fit in?

Last year alone, Twitter saw more than 400 million tweets published each day (according to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo) and the number of Facebook posts numbered exponentially more. With all of that content made available on the web daily, it makes one wonder where there is room to add images to our already overflowing social media output. Yet in 2012 we saw the rise of Instagram and Pinterest, as well as the launch of Facebook’s new visually focused timeline. Combined with Vine’s arrival on the scene in 2013, it would seem that visual content is taking over our social channels – and for good reason.

In a 2012 study done by ROI Research, researchers found that social media users were most engaged with posts that included some sort of visual image.  Moreover, 44 percent of respondents are more likely to engage with a brand on social media when they use pictures. Add to that the statistic from that photos on Facebook get 7x more likes and 10x more shares than links, and you have yourself a growing trend.

The drastic shift we’ve seen in social media content over the last two years provides one obvious observation – visual seems to have stolen the crown and ousted written content from its throne.  So what does that mean for your brand or company?

Simply put, a social media presence without a strong visual component will never survive within an arena full of competitors ready and waiting to take the spotlight from a brand unable to meet the needs of its social media following. This is a scary reality for many companies who have invested countless man-hours into building their existing social media presence, but it’s still a reality that can be prevented. There are simple steps your brand/company can take to add a more visual feeling to a lacking social presence:

  1. Take full advantage of Facebook’s visual elements – More likely than not, your company already has a Facebook page – one that hopefully already has a loyal following. To ensure that your Facebook fans don’t abandon ship, add more visual content to your page. Start by noting important company events by creating visual milestones for your timeline.  Then begin integrating visual content into your regular posts by adhering to the 80/20 Rule: 80 percent of content should include a visual, while only 20 percent can be dedicated to text only.
  2. Experiment with video – Seriously, don’t be shy when it comes to video. New apps like Vine and Tout are making it easier than ever before for anyone to post quick video clips.  Video provides a fantastic way for brand fans and followers to get an inside look at a company (one that text oftentimes can’t provide). Plus, their restrictive time limits make videos much more easily digestible for viewers that are constantly being distracted, and therefore more likely to be viewed and shared.
  3. Make Instagram your friend – Pinterest made many companies wary of getting involved in a largely consumer-oriented social platform, but don’t let it steer you away from Instagram. Where Pinterest wasn’t able to find success for many companies, Instagram can. Thanks to its smaller scale, Instagram allows your company to develop a small presence and build engagement without devoting huge chunks of time and budget.

While social media continues to change daily, the vastly expanding landscape of platforms makes it seem like visuals on social media are here to stay – but these tips are only just the beginning. Experiment, experiment, experiment to find out what visual elements work best for your organization, then share your findings in the comments below.