The digital landscape is experiencing a fundamental transformation. What was once a text-saturated space is now being overrun by visual content.
As the volume of published information grows daily, consumers naturally gravitate towards visuals as a quicker means of absorbing and generating the content, discovering inspiration, and exhibiting personal style.
The rise of mobile technology and its image-friendly format have facilitated this shift. Typing on tablets is a hassle, whereas scrolling through an endless stream of images with a simple tap is a breeze.
This visual surge is predominantly occurring on mobile devices, utilizing picture platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and other video networks such as Youtube, and TikTok.
The Era of Mass Marketing is Waning
Traditionally, mass marketing thrived due to the scarcity of broadcasting channels (TV and print) and the limited choices available to consumers. However, TV viewership has halved since 2002, while social networking apps now command 27% of total online time.
As consumers turn to an expanding array of niche, interest-based social networks, mass marketing is losing its grip.
Images Will Overtake Text and User-generated Content (UGC) Will Surpass Published Content
Images are revolutionizing media – they’re easy to comprehend and, with mobile technology, simple to create. This means the average internet users are not only consuming but also contributing to the visual content flood.
The transition from Web 1.0’s publisher-dominated websites to Web 2.0’s blogger-friendly short articles has now given way to a Visual Web, where everyday users are sharing images prolifically. Brands need to monitor this space, as many of these images reference them.
The Visual Web era is upon us, with platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest seeing millions of photo uploads daily. These platforms provide invaluable insight into consumer preferences and trends, allowing brands to understand their audience, fans, and customers in unprecedented detail.
On Thanksgiving day, Instagram saw a surge of activity with more than 10 million photo uploads. Meanwhile, Facebook consistently hosts a staggering 350+ million photo uploads every single day. Etsy also experiences significant activity, with 100,000 of its items being pinned daily on Pinterest.
These collaborative interactions on Pinterest offer valuable insights to retailers, providing an early glimpse into consumer preferences and trending purchases.
Businesses Are Also Embracing the Visual Web
This trend, currently evident in the rise of image and interest-based networks, will gradually transform online forums and Q&A sites. In the next five years, we predict online forums will morph into interest-based apps primarily accessed on mobile devices.
Enterprises will leverage their employees as content creators, utilizing their mobile cameras to source photos and contribute to a growing digital content archive.
Images Will Impact Many Enterprise Functions
This visual transformation will ripple through many facets of enterprise functions. B2C Marketing teams are early adopters, responding to the need to engage with growing audiences on these new visual networks. Sales and Customer Service teams will follow suit, recognizing that users on these networks are potential leads and customers.
Visual networks, being public and interest-based, offer a unique opportunity for large-scale consumer and product research, providing real-time insights into consumer preferences.
Visual is Bigger Than Social
The visual shift is more pervasive and consequential than the social shift. It affects more than just marketing and customer service; it will permeate e-commerce, advertising, merchandising, and research teams. The Visual Web is the next evolution of the digital enterprise, with a treasure trove of data waiting to be leveraged for customer intelligence.
This shift will compel brands to visually communicate with their consumers, monitor visual channels, and assess their visual marketing strategies. This wave will eventually reach every corner of the enterprise, turning employees into active creators of visual content.
The Visual Web Represents a Seismic Shift in Digital Marketing
Images, which are as easy to create as they are to consume, are changing the internet’s communication structure and will profoundly impact how brands engage with their audience, gather customer intelligence, design web pages, conduct consumer research, and empower their employees to contribute visual content.