It feels like the birth of the sweeping social media phenomenon occurred just five seconds ago, with Pinterest’s viral growth to dizzying heights, Facebook’s takeover of Instagram and Twitter launching the new network, Vine.

The new medium is continuing to grow and evolve, spawning a new phenomenon of its own: visual social media.

Like moths to a flame, humans are innately drawn to visual elements including images, photographs and sensational design. As more of us are increasingly mobile and engaging with social media on smartphones, viewing an image is far less tedious than squinting to read a few lines of tiny text on a moving train.

Facebook now gives users the option to upload a photograph with every single status posted, while one can only draw the parallels between Pinterest’s high levels of traffic and the quality images it hosts – it is now the fourth largest traffic driver worldwide.

According to research, 44 per cent of users are more likely to engage with brands it they post pictures than any other media. In August last year, Instagram surpassed Twitter for daily active mobile users, growing its user base by 8.5 times in six months.

Businesses and brands have to take note of these stats in order to leverage the power of visual marketing, using images, photos, videos and other media in their online marketing in order to boost the chances of readers viewing their messages. In turn, this drives people to your website and connects with them, promoting a sense of brand loyalty.

Want to harness the power of visual social media? Here’s how:

1. Why tell if you can show? A picture tells a thousand words. Wherever possible, use visuals to share your message through pictures, images, infographics, videos, graphics or animations. Facebook’s timeline format gives marketers the opportunity to show off stunning visuals and feature them prominently on the page.

2. More than 80 per cent of pins on Pinterest are re-pins, not original content. Be the original 20 per cent and create your own work, whether it be through professional graphic design or photography.

3. Tell your own story. Instagram is a great platform for storytelling and sharing your brand with the world. The mundane is made beautiful through the social medium’s photo filters, so snap and share away.

4. Infographics are a great way to showcase facts and figures without turning your post into a snorefest. Highlight valuable, up-to-date information through creative, colour charts and cutting-edge design – this makes sure people are engaged with your brand and read what you have to say.

5. Last but not least: don’t forget to add words to your image. Make sure you caption and tag where you can, but make sure the text doesn’t overpower your visuals. Keep captions short, concise and to-the-point, while adding hashtags can often help you reach new audiences as well.

Don’t forget – this applies to your personal brand along with your business brand, so be careful of what you say, snap and post. And most importantly, have fun with visual social media and all it can offer you!

─ Eliza Sum
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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