Images Are Eating The Web
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This is a guest contribution by Sharad Verma, Co-Founder and CEO of Piqora.
The web as we know it is going through a fundamental shift. The consumer experience, communication, and publishing are becoming visual. Images are how we stay in touch with our friends, express our tastes, tell stories, and discover new brands and products. The text web is turning visual — and images are eating the web.
Most of this visual activity is happening on mobile devices across visual networks such as Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and other niche networks such as Polyvore, WeHeartIt, and Houzz.
This visual web is social, interest-based and public — and these characteristics allow marketers to get deeper and more granular consumer behavior and product insights than ever before.
As consumers Like and Pin images, they are creating a top-of-the-funnel map of product discovery for marketers. Brands can use this data to build relationships with category-specific influencers, proactively reach shoppers based on intent, and integrate visual UGC content on their websites — all of which drive sales. The social ROI from pinned images on Pinterest is real. Each pin produces .78 cents in sales on average (Piqora proprietary research, executed by ex-Google PhD engineers).
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, the visual web is a happy place. Users are building virtual shopping lists and sharing life moments. They are getting inspired to do new things and discovering new products and brands that improve their lives.
Here are the top ways marketers are leveraging the visual web right now:
- Track ROI
For the very first time, social marketers can track their image ROI and get insights in to which images are generating traffic and revenue. Pinterest, Polyvore, Houzz, and Weheartit are fundamentally a collection of visual hyperlinks that link and drive traffic to your website.
How to do it: Tracking the image-to-purchase funnel by using a marketing analytics tool for the visual web that seamlessly connects to Google Analytics or Omniture.
- Research product trends
Visual networks are public and interest-based. Consumers are building their virtual shopping lists well ahead of purchases and expressing their future intent via actions like pinning. These networks are like large-scale automated focus groups: a massive goldmine of data that leading brands are already using to understand exactly which products are trending right now.
How to do it: Enable your brand’s merchandisers and inventory buyers to access up-to-the-minute social signals to make informed decisions about product and resource planning.
- Crowdsource and integrate visual UGC on your website
Instagram is great for inspiring your audience to express their style, while incorporating your brand’s products. Brands are sourcing authentic user-generated photos reflecting their brand values and aesthetic by running photo contests and promoting hashtags. These photos constitute visual social proof and can be integrated on your website and other online and social channels to deliver rich media experiences that are authentic and attractive to consumers.
How to do it: Integrate visual UGC media on your website and online destinations to spark and engage consumers in an authentic way.
- Identify your influencers and build relationships
Unlike Twitter, where influence is driven by celebrity status, visual networks are very democratic. Anyone with taste and persistence can acquire a lot of followers. These taste-based influencers are curating your brand’s content and uploading photos referencing your brand. Find them and engage with their posts to turn them into advocates.
How to do it: Reward your influencers by acquiring their image rights and republishing the best photos on your website.
- Run contests and sweepstakes to build your communities
Pin-to-win and Instagram photo contests are a great way to accelerate community building on visual platforms. The key is not to overdo them, but contests can turn dormant audience members in to avid contributors and curators of your content on visual channels.
How to do it: Find a partner than can help you run a visual promotion or photo contest on Pinterest or Instagram.
- Identify purchase intent of users and engage with their photos to drive sales
Pinterest and other e-commerce oriented visual networks are really a database of future shopping intent. Consumers visit your website and pin your products on their boards. By knowing which products are being the pinned the most you can discover users who are pinning regularly and might be in the market to make a purchase from your brand.
How to do it: Nurture your visual leads by having your e-commerce support team proactively engage with pins and help your prospects down the funnel.
Images are eating the web because consumers are increasingly more mobile, and images work best on mobile devices. It’s also only natural that consumers turn to visuals as a faster way to process information, find inspiration and curate tastes.
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