NB: This is a guest article by by Anthony Rawlins, CEO of Digital Visitor, a social media and marketing agency for travel and tourism organisations globally.
This year in social media, imagery – photos and videos – have become one of the most important ways in which brands, in any industry, can communicate with their audiences.
In this article, we’ll show you how some of the most popular social channels have recently made important changes to reflect this, and we’ll give you some ideas on how you can capitalise on this to optimise your online exposure.
Late last year, Twitter made changes to its brand pages to include better customisation options such as larger header images, better display of logo and tagline, and the option to keep a particular tweet at the top of your time line.
This top tweet also auto-expands to reveal an embedded photo or video from Flickr, YouTube or other sources, without requiring the user to take action.
More recently, Facebook introduced the new Timeline format for brand pages, again focussing on the use of imagery with the introduction of the cover photo to give brands the opportunity to carefully present themselves with an image, and the highlighting feature.
The small star icon in the corner of each post that allows you to expand the post (including any images or videos attached) to its full width.
The cover photo gives brands the opportunity to carefully present themselves with an image.
The highlighting feature allows you to expand a post (including any images or videos attached) to the full width of the wall.
Some might argue the ultimate proof that visual content is king was the launch and incredible growth of Pinterest – a platform that is whole heartedly based on using imagery to create colourful Pinboards of your favourite links.
While many are discussing the benefits of engaging and using the fledgeling site, others see Pinteret primarily working as a mechanism for destinations, rather than suppliers.
Let’s not forget Google Plus. One of the greatest success stories from the travel industry in this space is LateRooms - the late reservations site - which just recently reached 500,000 followers.
In a recent interview, its social media manager Rich Kemp confirmed one of the key benefits of the Google Plus platform was its ability to display images in a visually pleasing way and also the simple fact that it has more space for photographs in the stream than Facebook’s newsfeed.
And Google certainly know that this is how they have the upper hand on Facebook. Just this week it held a conference in San Francisco specifically aimed at photographers (surely a sign that Google see the great value of imagery) where vice president of product for Google Plus, Bradley Horowitz, said:
"I feel photos are the lifeblood of our service...They are the way we can most immediately and viscerally connect as human beings."
Venturebeat goes as far as stating that Google Plus is set to become "your new Flickr".
Applying a strategy
We have known for years that imagery (particularly user generated photos and videos), is one of the most engaging forms of marketing and over the past six months, we’ve seen how the major social channels have made significant changes to favour visual content.
So, what does this mean for your brand? Quite simply, you need to gather visual content to display on your social channels, and one of the best ways to do this is to capture your own content.
One of the best ways to gather content is to enable review functionality on your very own website – however the main focus should be capture photos and videos (not just text).
Ensure your website visitors are able to quickly and easily upload photos and videos, and include sharing tools so that this content can be shared to multiple social channels, exposing your brand to new audiences.
You should also consider capturing photos and videos via your social channels. For example, on Facebook, you could run a competition whereby the entry mechanism entails that they upload a photo.
Take this opportunity to specify what content you want for example e.g. best wildlife photo or best beach photo. Alternatively, you could also offer an incentive for people to upload content eg. a discount voucher.
No matter which social platform your business is using, you can’t afford to underestimate the power of imagery – they can convey thoughts, ideas, events and experiences far better than words alone.
Do you agree that imagery, particularly user generated photos and videos, is one of the most engaging forms of marketing?
NB: This is a guest article by by Anthony Rawlins, CEO of Digital Visitor, a social media and marketing agency for travel and tourism organisations globally. Read more about its social media tools.