How brands survive in a photo rich online world

#Latergram . Throwback to Wednesday's sunset.

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With the latest Twitter update your stream on desktop and mobile features landscape shaped thumbnail previews of photos. This coupled with Twitter cards for blog posts, videos and many more media types, means far more images in what was originally an SMS like feed.  Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and the attention Pinterest is getting all echo the fact that social media sites are getting more visual every day.  Pinterest and Tumblr are just outside the Top 20 sites in New Zealand.

Thinking through our Facebook feeds and what gets me “like”-ing I’ve come up with a starter for Five.

Five image subjects that will appeal to 90% (made up stat) of your audience. Sharing a picture that includes or combines one of these five should out-do a branded/text filled ad. I think they apply to videos too.

In no particular order, but in one that rolls off the tongue well it is:

  1. Pets
  2. People
  3. Places
  4. Faces
  5. Food

Each in moderation of course, and linked to your brand. The images should support your brand’s perception, yet be honest like the images you would see from friends in your feed. Some might have a great Canon or Nikon, but remember most friends don’t have professional lighting studios.

That said they might share pictures of a pristine Ferrari, a meal on a white background, or an airbrushed pop star from time to time.  Some of my favourite TV shows are behind the scenes, the making of and brand stories. Unpolished and engaging.

So let us see how many I can work in over the coming months.

Image is everything online. Be it words, images, audio or video.

Image is everything. Conveying the right message to visitors irregardless of the page or area of your website they land on is paramount.

Your site needs to sing your brand message.

That’s not just through SEO optimised prose, but also each and every media element on your site. Be that images, colour palette, videos, audio or pictures. It’s not just how they perform on your website though, it’s also the singular story they tell when shared on social media or adapted by your fans.

Audio and video convey the strongest messages. Think of the Intel Inside ditty (dom dum dom ding) or the McDonalds whistle or that ever evocative chime of the ice cream van in childhood. Fisher and Paykel spend significant time at a product level honing the beeps and pips your washing machine makes when finished, or overloaded. Much like Harley Davison and Lexus spend time tuning engine exhaust notes. Items that can connect you with the brand as you use the product.

In marketing, sounds can evoke strong emotional connections with brands.

Recently BMW spent millions updating their signature jingle, a series of notes to sign off their video ads. The jingle is perhaps hinting to the sound of a gear down change, but the overuse of a synthesiser leaves it hard to recognise. I’m left thinking Transformers rather than BMW.

I’ve also just watched an Audi ad and realised that, in response they have upgraded there signature too. Far more evocative they play the sound of a low solid heart beat as the four rings of their logo appear. “Duh dum, duh dum.” Relatively fast paced, the beat reminds you of spirited driving, yet (with your Audi all wheel drive) you’re not out of control. A great piece of media, exemplifying the brand.

It is of course fine for global brands to create emtional storytelling through vidoes yet rich media is often out of reach for you average SME. Small businesses, even with the budget can find the time needed to create a quality video too much of a commitment. Still, if done well, smart phone quick updates on industry changes or products or services can be enticing for users to watch.

Take the time to include up to date shots of real people and real products.

The use of photos and images is within reach of most business. Even if it has to be the dreaded stock footage. The old adage ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ is as true online as when first penned. Product shots either static or in use or motion are a great way to connect users with your products. For services where, more often than not, success is defined by personal relationships between employees and clients – staff photos or the lack thereof conveys a strong message. Using stock footage when talking ‘about us’ says a lot about a service provider…

Images are so powerful and such a part of the modern mobile web that sites are now switching focus to portrait shots rather than landscape. The endless scroll and sites like Pinterest and Tumblr promoting the quick re-posting of images, the more vertical real estate your images can acquire the better. Infographics, visual interpretations of data or stories, are a great way to explain what you’re saying in a method that is more accessible for visual learners. When presented as vertical graphics they’re great for sharing on social media sites as well.

As with all marketing, images need a purpose and goal. Think real estate and target audience with each piece of multimedia. What pain point is it addressing, which user, which phase of the buying cycle and how does it speak of your brand’s promise.

Images and multimedia should augment an article or website, adding value to the user and creating affinity or demand for you brand.

Given also that many videos and infographics are shared using social media, they should also be able to stand alone conveying their message without contextual copy or written introductions. They should also drive, in some way, users further down the the sales funnel or closer to the brand for loyalty. Always asking for the sale, even with a subtle whisper, is key.