By Eric Berry
The visual web represents a change in how people consume content online and how brands interact with their customers. At its core, it represents the confluence of several important trends. In defining the visual web, we explore each of these trends and discuss how they contribute to an amazing new opportunity.
Users are producing and consuming more visual content than ever before from Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram to Pinterest, StumbleUpon and online commerce generally. It’s no accident that more and more websites, including eBay and USA Today, are starting to look like Pinterest. People respond viscerally to images far more than they respond to text. One study shows that photo posts on Facebook generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than the average post . As many as 70% of all likes are related to photos . More images means more user engagement across the web. Publishers are realizing the benefits of increasingly visual layouts, and the transition to a more image-driven web is underway.
The Social Web
The internet is social, and everything is shared. Consumers are interacting with brands’ content at an unprecedented rate – liking, sharing, posting on Tumblr, pinning, and more. A single image from a brand can be pinned to Pinterest, that pin can be liked on Facebook, then a friend posts to Tumblr about the product. Finally, someone is inspired to buy the product. What was once a static piece of content on a brand’s page is organically exposed to thousands of friends and followers. A friend or influencer validating a product can be an incredibly powerful driver of branding and sales – one study showed over 15% of sales were influenced by friends and family on social media . By understanding this tremendous stream of data, brands can understand what products, looks, and concepts resonate with their customers.
Technology has transformed web users from passive consumers of content into active curators and creators of content. Tastemakers and influencers are readily born by finding and sharing interesting content in one of the many simple publishing platforms on the web. For visual content, the options are myriad, including Pinterest, Tumblr, Polyvore, Instagram, and many more. Curators find and drive engagement by identifying top content and posting it in their own forums. Brands that drive active curation of their products and understand the user feedback benefits through increased exposure and more insights about user behavior.
Brands on the Visual Web
Nearly every successful website has moved to predominantly visual layouts. Even Twitter, through photos and filters, has embraced the trend to the extent a text-first site can. All data points to a future where yet more images are consumed and shared across the web. Brands should create the content fit to be shared on this visual web and actively follow and respond to the signals. This will create a rapid product marketing and evolution cycle, keeping customers engaged and optimizing product decisions.
1. Photos on Facebook Generate 53% More Likes Than the Average Post, Nov. 15, 2012 [http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33800/Photos-on-Facebook-Generate-53-More-Likes-Than-the-Average-Post-NEW-DATA.aspx]2. The growing importance of digital photo sharing to brands, July 25, 2012 [http://www.qubemedia.net/tag/photo-sharing-statistics/]3. Social Media Influences Impluse Purchases, Oct. 7, 2012 [http://strategicsalesmarketingosmg.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/social-media-influences-impluse-purchases/]