Our brain processes images sixty thousand times faster than it processes text. For marketers looking to make sure that their message resonates with potential customers, this means that visual communication is often more effective than the written word. Across marketing channels such as websites, email, SEM, and social media, visual content is king. Short and simple, marketers know that images and videos are a quicker, more efficient way to ensure that consumers absorb your brand’s information.
However, with the rise of social visual platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, and Vine, a new visual revolution is taking place: The rise of user-generated content.
What is user generated content? User-Generated Content is any form of visual media that is created by users of an online system, made accessible via social media.
According to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends, today’s consumers are sharing user-generated content heavily on social platforms—over three billion photos and videos a day, to be precise. The increased usage of smartphones is one key driver contributing to this trend.
As a result, whether they are aware of it or not, customers are increasingly contributing to online storytelling, creativity, and peer-to-peer sharing. But these users aren’t just posting vibrant landscapes and food photo-shoots. Many of the photos and videos uploaded onto social media everyday feature consumer products that these social media users love.
The large amount of user-generated content that consumers are posting online is inherently changing the way in which they interact with the brands that they buy from. Visual social media platforms are allowing consumers to play a much larger role in defining a brand than ever before.
As a result of the enormous number of photos and videos being uploaded online by individual contributors, the concept of visual referral marketing is being adopted by socially driven brands. Brands now depend on their customers to take an active role in their marketing. In order to find, connect, and manage relationships with these valuable customers, brands are employing visual commerce solutions.
By using visual commerce solutions to capture high-quality user-generated content and to feature it on their different marketing channels, eCommerce marketers are able to offer social proof for their products. Brands that place real user-generated content on channels such as their websites and product pages consistently see a 2X increase in on-site conversion.
While word-of-mouth and testimonial advertising have always been an important method for building trust between a brand and its customers, in the past it has either been text-driven, in-person, or closely monitored by the brand itself.
Today’s consumers post liberally about the brands and products that they love. Each one of these posts is a visual referral for the brands and products featured in them. When a customer hashtags or mentions a brand in a post, they are endorsing that brand to their entire following—sometimes reaching hundreds of thousands of people. For companies looking to improve brand trust, tapping into social proof marketing by putting real visual customer endorsements to use is a sure way to build trust with current and potential customers.
Innovative brands are seizing this opportunity to connect with passionate customers. By reaching out directly to the customers behind these highly influential social media posts, marketers are tapping into a unique opportunity to influence the purchasing decisions of new customers.
Seventy-four percent of customers say that they rely on social media to guide their purchase decisions (ODM Group.) By inspiring social browsers using real curated images of products, brands are able to develop more authentic and relevant marketing. This authentic visual marketing allows marketers to establish strong brand identity coupled with an engaged community of loyal buyers.
Today’s consumers are defining brands’ identity and influencing their peers through their social media posts. This visual revolution is changing the power balance between people and brands. A brand is no longer what marketers tell consumers that it is, it is what consumers tell each other it is. As a result, smart marketers are leveraging their most passionate customers to drive sales and strengthen brand image.
In order to maximize resources put towards improving visual communications, brands have tapped into the power of a visual commerce platform or a visual reviews platform to enhance their marketing experience and strengthen customer relationships.
This piece was originally published on the Pixlee Blog.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community