In the past, the Internet was the domain of words. Literally, at that – text made up the majority of its content, and while there have been attempts to introduce images and videos in to the mix, they ended up as mere periphery, owing to the fact that bandwidth concerns and lack of standards prevent visuals from taking off.
Times have changed, though. Now, bandwidth is plentiful and various standards and services for delivery of high resolution visuals have sprung up, giving birth to visual media as a powerful driving force in the modern web. Websites and networks have realized that videos and images are more powerful and more accessible than text, which is why major social networks like Facebook and Twitter provide extensive support for visual media. There are even social networking sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Flickr that are built around visuals instead of text content.
What it Means for Marketing
Marketing, as a concept, has always been reactive and is more likely to adopt to culture and the majority’s behavior, rather than serving as a force to set or start them. It is the same for the rise of the visual web. With humankind taking over 380 billion photos taken by humans in 2012 alone, it is hard to ignore the power of images when it comes to delivering information and messages – exactly the kind of thing that marketing is banking on.
This means companies and brands must now reposition their online campaigns to be ever more mindful of imagery, and must try to approach their customers from that angle, which could mean that they are now forced to take networks such as Instagram and Pinterest seriously, which is different from traditional advertising channels in the sense that they have as little or as much authority and influence as any user signed up on the service, making the playing field a little bit more level than what they are comfortable with.
Social Media and Images
Various studies have come to the conclusion that over 70 percent of social media interactions these days involve an image, or is centered around an image, with photos on Facebook pages receiving 50 percent more likes than the average post. Brands must now rely on a steady stream of visuals if they want to remain relevant, and must focus on including images to its marketing campaigns and strategies.
However, it’s not a one size fits all principle at work, and companies are realizing that different images work well in different environments. For instance, shoes are very popular on Pinterest, while Instagram takes kindly to polka dot patterns. There’s also Facebook, whose users seem to gravitate more towards images that are witty or humorous.
The Key Takeaway
Current studies point to the shift towards a web without words continuing on for the next few years, as the web moves ever closer to being a truly visual medium. However, what users, webmasters, marketers, and advertisers should keep in mind is the true driving force behind the rise of imagery on the web: it has to do more with the medium’s ability to tell a story much more effectively than text, and there’s the rub. The web has always been about telling a story, and people shouldn’t be too focused on visuals that they lose sight of its purpose: that of telling a story and providing information.