We all take social media for granted these days, but have any of you noticed the subtle shift in popularity towards visual social media?

As consumers, we are becoming more naturally drawn to visual content online – much more than ever before. For a business owner this can provide us with masses of potential to attract new followers and eventually new clients or customers. We just have to learn how to leverage this shift in focus towards visual content to our benefit.

The shift toward visual social media

The way that people are communicating online has seen a gradual shift towards more visual methods to convey messages and feelings – just look at the explosion in the use of emojis in the past couple of years.

We all started out with basic websites with mainly text and maybe a still photo or two. This was swiftly followed by dynamic websites and blogs with rolling content and plenty of images. The blog more than anything else encouraged interaction with our clients and customers, and community building became key. Social media then came to the fore and we embraced 140 word tweets and shorter posts where we had to become more inventive to get across our points as well as our feelings and reactions.

Along with this shift we went from simply telling people about our business or boasting about how good our products or services are, to actually showing them with more visual images, step-by-step guides, videos and infographic images.

Sites like Tumblr and YouTube became more prominent offering rapidly changing visual information and entertainment. We have now evolved to consume more information visually that we ever did before when we could only access information through reading pages of text-based info from specialist libraries and authority websites.

We are now seeing visual image-based social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest growing exponentially and breaking records in viewing figures each month. This just goes to show that a picture can say a thousand words on a site where no words are necessary.

What does this mean for your business?

It means that as a business owner you need to be taking notice of the ever increasing rise in the statistics for visually bases sites. Did you know that Pinterest recently became the 2nd largest driver of web traffic worldwide?

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We are now seeing Pinterest and Instagram matching each other with massive growth and extremely high levels of engagement. In fact according to a report by Dane Atkinson (CEO of SumAll.com), Instagram is currently having around ten times greater engagement than other platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It is no wonder that Facebook snapped up Instagram for $1 Billion.

Web developers have not been slow to pick up on this shifting consciousness either. With new tools being developed such as DIY design tool Canva, small business owners are waking up to the benefits of actually creating their own images and infographics to get their information across.

For a small business owner with a very visual-friendly product or service, then this could mean a huge opportunity to leverage the power of visual marketing. For those who are willing to learn how to use photographs, videos, infographics, cartoons and other visual media across their social media and online marketing, then you will have a far greater chance of reaching and engaging with more people. Good visuals provide a greater rate of exposure through sharing and in turn driving more traffic back to your own website, products and services.

How can I leverage visual marketing?

First of all – don’t tell people about your business if you can show them! Keep it simple and include good-quality pictures, images, videos, infographics, visual statistics in graphs and bar charts, animations and slideshows.

Sharing is caring, so along with curating interesting image-based information to share with your followers on social media, also take a little time to create your own original visual content to share. This can be as simple as a few seconds of video that showcases your new line, or an infographic to show how your service solves a problem. Whatever you create, make sure you include a link back to your site to drive traffic where you want it to go.

Did you know that on average over 80% of pins on Pinterest are repins from others? Think about that for a moment. That means that only 20% of content posted on Pinterest is actually original. What if you could be in there with that 20% of original content posters? What would that do for your business profile and branding?

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Image credit: Canva.com

Your own content does not have to be technical or expensive to produce. You can keep it simple and use one of the many new online tools available to create your own graphic content – just keep your focus on making it original. Take your own photographs and edit them to use online. You could make use of photo apps to add filters and text with fun fonts. Look at Canva and PicMonkey.com as two good examples.

Take some time to plan out what you are going to put into your visuals. Information that provides help or inspiration are among the most popular shared content across all social media platforms, especially Pinterest. Impose quotes and inspirational messages across your images or include them in your infographics. These are particularly popular on Facebook.

Create an emotional connection with your followers with a slideshow showcase to share your backstory. We all love an underdog, or someone who has strived to make something from nothing, so if you have a stash of old photographs lurking in your archives that show how your business has grown from humble beginning or how your shop or offices were transformed from a wreck, you can use these to your advantage. Make a slideshow from your photographs to tell the story of ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind your business and you will be onto a highly shareable winner.

Crowdsource some visual content from your existing customer base by asking them to share their images using your product. This can be incredibly successful with cute subject matter such as pets for example. Who wouldn’t love to scroll through customer images of cute and adorable puppies and kittens wearing your own brand of hand-made collars? Online retailer, ASOS does this brilliantly and achieves HUGE online exposure from campaigns designed to get their customers sharing pictures of them wearing their purchases.

Have you noticed how popular visuals have become on your social media feeds? Next time you are on your social media accounts, check out how many posts are coming through on your own feed that are highly visual compared to heavily text-based.