The power of pictures: Why photos are (p)interesting stuff and how marketers can get the most out of them

It`s nothing new that people love pictures. We are very visual. Our brains seem to process visual information much easier than written words. Powerful pictures do touch us. They can flood us with deep emotions. There is a saying:

“sometimes one picture can say more than a thousand words”.

This should be nothing new for the advertising industry which spends billions of dollars worldwide for the production of high quality ads every year. No matter if we are talking about food, cars or fashion – a big part of the budgets flows in the production of creative materials and key visuals of marketing campaigns. Marketers and their creative agencies try to develop distintive visuals in order to make their products stand out. And it`s getting much more difficult to stand out these days. A war for attention is going on and everybody has become a potential “star” photographer.

Credits to Geeks are sexy

Why did photography become a mainstream phenomenon?

Digital photography has not only facilitated the lives of pros but made photos very popular among average people, too. New devices with photo funtions are very easy to use and compared to the past it`s very inexpensive to take photos. Everybody has either a digital camera or a (smart)phone with camera at his/her hand today. People can take photos everywhere and anytime. And they take photos of everything! They take photos of their food and some pets have become super models – if you look at the attention they get on social media.

Consequently, photos have become a key content on the web. Flickr – the former star among the photo communities – looks like a dino today and struggles to keep up with the momentum of the rest of the players in this photo game.

According to a Facebook engineer appr. 200 million photos are uploaded everday which makes Facebook by far the largest photo site on the internet. Instagram – a very popular photo application – which allows people to take and edit photos easily allows people to make more beautiful pictures by applying certain filters and instantly share them with their friends and followers. Just a few days ago it has been announced that Facebook will take them over for a breathtaking $ 1 Billion. A serious amount for a startup of +/- ten people and which has never earned a cent and is around for under 2 years only. Another powerful example is Pinterest – a social network based on photos which are pinned on boards. People can follow each other or just boards and they can co-create boards by pinning together. Pinterest is very popular – especially among female users. It reached the 10 million unique visitors mark faster than any other site in the history of the www. Faster than Google, Facebook and Groupon! There is a good chance that Google will acquire them – at least it would make sense: Picasa doesn’t work well and some interesting statements have been made recently. So there must be something about it and it`s definitely one of the hottest startups in the tech scene right now.

Here are 11 practical tipps for marketers who want to benefit from the latest photo hype:

  1. Adaptable creative concepts: Make sure that your creative concepts will be adaptable to the formats and style of the social media platforms you`ll be feeding. Don`t just use existing print ads for the web.
  2. Quality matters: Remember that these photos will be shaping your brand as they will travel through the internet. You want to leave a good impression which transports the values of your brand/product.
  3. Extended copyrights: Make sure to get extended picture rights – so you can share the photos via social media without tapping into any legal issues. Normally you`ll have to negotiate additional packages for online/ mobile use. Get those rights!
  4. Easy sharing: Make it easy for your visitors to share pictures and use social plug-ins/ sharing tools on your sites which allow your users to spread the content for you.
  5. Selected platforms: Choose which platform(s) fits best to your brand and become known for great content. Again sometimes less is more. Rather choose one platform and do it right instead of struggling to keep up the quality of content- and community management on many.
  6. Linked profiles: If you want to get the most out of your activities – it makes sense to connect your social media properties, e.g. why not linking your pinterest board with your Facebook page and draw some attention from there? However, don`t be redundant!
  7. Continuous themes: Establish certain “themes” and stick to them. Don`t make it too much of a freestyle thing, e.g. you could establish something like “Daily Pinspiration” or “Weekly Update/Look/Product”. People get used to things and you secure regular updates.
  8. Co-creation/ Co-curation: The great thing about the latest photo sites and apps is that most of them allow co-creation/ co-curation. Make sure to tap into the creative potential of your fans/followers. Let them shape your brand with you. There is a lot of valuable content out there. Set the stage for them!
  9. Go beyond yourself: Don`t just spread your own stuff. Share great content/photos even if it`s not your own. However, make sure to give the credits to the creators and mention the sources.
  10. Less barriers: If you have a media site or newsroom where the people can find artwork, photos, logos of your brand/product make it easy for people to register. And don`t keep it an exclusive thing for press only. Consider the blogosphere and the rest of the public who wants your materials.
  11. Community management: Don`t forget that it`s all about the community. So remember the golden rules of community management.

Photos  can be great vehicles for marketing messages – if used right. We hope that this post will help you to create better photo experiences around your brand and products and we`re very curious to here your tipps. What else should be considered? Did you learn valuable lessons you want to share with us? If so – we are looking forward  to read your comments.

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