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Trend Alert: The Next Big Thing in Social Media is Visual

  |  September 13, 2012   |  Comments

Visual content is the consistent thread across the sites and tools that are growing.

Images are one of the biggest trends of social media for 2012. While we often talk about the sites that are trending and the “next big thing” of social media, we seem to forget about the broader trends that have implications to our current and future strategies.

Images are the hottest thing is social media right now. Visual content is the consistent thread across the sites and tools that are growing.

Why are images key? Because our brains can consume and process an image much quicker than text.

The Trend: Social Media is Becoming Even More Visual


  • Images in blog posts:We’ve known for a while that images in blog posts increase time on site and engagement (that is why newspapers and magazines have images).
  • Pinterest:The latest darling of the social media community is one of the most visual social networks out there. When you “pin” content the item that shows up with your pin is an image from the website. Pinterest is the quickest growing independent social network and sends more traffic to other sites than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined. The quick growth of this highly visual social network points toward the desire to consume visual content.
  • Facebook: Studies on Facebook page engagement rates show that photos get more engagement than text posts, with up to 35 percent more engagement for photos in the new Timeline view.
  • Instagram: Recently acquired by Facebook, Instagram allows anyone to take beautiful photos with their smartphone. Over a billionphotos have been taken through Instagram, and brands are also running contests and encouraging fans to share photos through the app.
  • Infographics: Infographics have emerged lately as a top tool for marketers. My company created an infographic on Cincinnati Social Media that was the No. 1 source of traffic to our site for the month, and got us picked up (with links) from other news outlets. An infographic is basically a visual way to tell a story, typically with data. The rise of the infographic shows that people want visual content.
  • Flipboard: The most popular iPad app, Flipboard basically takes your news and social network feeds and makes them visual. They recently announced that there are 20 million Flipboard users.

All of these top social network trends have one thing in common: they show us the importance of images in content and in storytelling online.

Take Advantage of It: How To Get Amazing Image Content

As social media becomes more visual, what can you do to take advantage of the biggest trend in social media? Here are some tips to help you get more from the biggest trend.

  • Each page should have a good image: Make your content share-friendly by having relevantimages. Not just a stock photo, but an image that helps tell your story so that it can be shared as a teaser for your content.
  • Create an infographic: If you have a design team, great. If not, use a tool like PiktoChart to create an infographic yourself. I created an infographic with PiktoChart in about an hour after the research was complete.
  • Create relevant images:Make your images relevant. Use photos with a text overlay to create a relevant and sharable photo. Look at most big brand Facebook pages or Pinterest for inspiration on the types of images that travel.
  • Tell your story visually: Rather than posting text, look for the opportunity to share your story through a visual chart, graph, or image. Think of creative ways to get your message across.

How else have you created amazing photo content? Share your tips below!

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Krista Neher

Krista Neher is the author of the bestselling Social Media Field Guide, an international speaker, and currently CEO of Boot Camp Digital, which is a leading provider of social media marketing training and consulting solutions. Krista is a social media pioneer, creating one of the first successful corporate Twitter strategies and corporate blogs - long before "social media" was even a recognized term. After spending nearly six years at Procter and Gamble working on some of the biggest and most successful product launches, Krista went on to become the vice president of marketing at an Internet start-up.

Krista started Boot Camp Digital in 2008 and has created training programs for hundreds of advertising agencies, marketing departments and small and medium business owners in social media marketing. Krista also works with a variety of educational institutions on their social media programs and is currently working on a textbook on social media marketing.

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