Visual Social Marketing in Middle East

First we had the weblogs or blogs, and then came the updates on Facebook, Orkut, My Space followed by Tumblr posts. This was followed by mobile blogging on sites like Posterous which shrunk to Tweets and finally to Instagram and Pinterest. The medium through which we express our thoughts and emotions online have changed drastically over a decade. We now express more with fewer words. In many cases words are replaced by a photograph or a video.

Internet users have shifted their mode communication and so have many online businesses and brands. Here’s how smart brands are navigating the new visual social-media era.

A 2012 study by ROI Research found that when users engage with friends on social media sites, it’s the pictures they took that are enjoyed the most. Forty-four percent of respondents are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media. Pictures have become one of our default modes of sorting and understanding the vast amounts of information we’re exposed to every day. The study concluded that women are more likely to respond to pictures and men are more likely to respond to videos.

The trend towards the visual media is also influenced by the shifting habits of technology users.

As more people engage with social media via smartphones, they’re discovering that taking a picture “on the go” using a high-resolution phone is much less tedious than typing out a status update on a two-inch keyboard.

Images are the most shared and clicked on content on Twitter. Images receive 50% more interactions on Facebook. Google+ users have uploaded 3.4 billion photos.

In addition, the quickest growing social networks and applications are visual. Flipboard, a visual news app, was the number one application when the iPad launched.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. We can communicate more information faster with images vs. text. Our brains are naturally drawn to the content that gets the message across quickly as there is information overload online. Images break through the clutter and immediately and quickly communicate messages.

The reality is that images are leading social content for sharing. Meaning that images are highly viewed, engaged with, shared, and clicked on in social networks. If you want your website content shared across visual social networks, you need to have a strong image strategy.

Marketers need to take an advantage of this trend by adopting the below tips: -

Include appropriate images on all of the pages on your website. This will ensure that your site is highly sharable on the visual web and can drive more traffic, leads, and sales to your site.

Your product pages and blog posts should include highly relevant photos.

Optimize your social content to break through the clutter with images. Most leading businesses are making use of images in their content on all social networks. Your Facebook, Twitter, blog, and even LinkedIn strategies should be images driven.

  • Join image social networks like Pinterest and Instagram. Brands have seen tremendous success in brand building as well as generating traffic, leads, and sales from these networks.
  • There’s nothing more powerful than video for creating a presentation intended to increase brand recognition and appeal. Youtube is the most used video site for all types of video including marketing related clips and your brand must be there.

The need for brands to get to the point quicker than ever came about as online users became more pressed for time and with the increase in content. With advancements in computing power and Internet bandwidth, in 2013, the average online user can now easily stream product videos and download image heavy pages.

How important is visual media for video in the Middle East. The below stats would help you gauge the levels

  • There are 260 million video views in MENA region – that makes the region on 2nd number after USA.
  • Run time for the clips increased on the site by 28% in 2012 v/s 2011.
  • 76% of users in Saudi Arabia watch videos using their mobile devices, while 35% have uploaded their own content.

Search engines have changed their logic on ranking content and the old SEO methods may not work. Search engines rank content based on social conversations and sharing, not just websites alone. Brands can use visual content on their social media to increase engagement and inspire sharing that can lead to viral marketing. The rise of platforms like Pinterest and acquisition of Instagram by Facebook, shows how visual content is becoming an increasingly important force for communication online. We can say visual content will be the king in the future.

This post was first published in Qatar Today magazine’s March 2013 issue

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