Whether or not we like to admit it, we all make judgements based on appearances. We judge books by their covers, movies by their posters, and companies by their websites. We rely on visual content because it communicates volumes about something at a quick glance.

Today we live in a world where people want to consume content quickly and efficiently. With the wealth of digital content available, we don’t have time to read everything put before us and, even when we see something interesting and click on a website, we usually read about 20% of the text on the page. More so than ever before, we rely on images to inform us what content is worthy of our precious time.

Visuals are evolving the way brands engage with consumers on social, which is why it is important for marketers to understand the impact this content can have on an audience and how to keep up with the market’s rapid demand for new content.

How visuals are shaping social networks

Social networks have adopted the trend of visual content and evolved their interfaces so images have a more prominent role. Twitter now shows photos and videos inline with tweets, Facebook redesigned their newsfeed and profile pages to make images and videos larger, and Buzzfeed relies on GIFs and images to bring their stories to life. There are also social networks like Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, Flickr, Snapchat, and Pinterest, where the shared content is almost completely visual.

There has been a rapid rise in daily photos shared on digital networks over the past 6 years, proving that people have responded favorably to these changes and visually-focused social networks.

Audience engagement

Not only do audiences create and share their own photos, but they prefer to engage with brands images over other content types. Facebook posts with an image have an 87 percent interaction rate and 44% of surveyed consumers said they are likely to engage with branded content that contains an image. Instagram’s photo-based content is also receiving three times the engagement per post as compared to Facebook.

Snapchat, the rapidly growing photo sharing mobile app, has proven to be a potentially powerful marketing channel for brands to reach college students.

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Keeping up with the demand for branded visual content

Given the demand for new visual content and opportunities for social engagement, it is important to keep your brand’s image creation process moving at the speed of social. Below are a few tips for marketers to ensure they are able to continually produce on-brand, visually appealing content without sacrificing quality:

1. Content Fulfillment Partners

It’s much harder to produce new and interesting visuals than text. With text based content, someone just needs a computer to produce the content; whereas with images, people have to coordinate many different elements including a photographer, usage rights, and releases for all the featured people. By working with a stock photography agency like Percolate’s partners Flashstock and Shutterstock, brands have access to a world of professional visual content with complete image rights.

For more on this topic, check out our new user guide: The Busy Marketer’s Guide to Image Rights Management.

2. Utilizing User-Generated Content

With 1.8 billion photos being shared by users in a single day, there are endless opportunities to utilize the content right before your eyes. Many users share images of branded content and are willing to create specific images when prompted by brands just for the honor of having their image used as part of a nationwide campaign. If you have the proper tools to collect and manage the rights for user-generated content, it can be an efficient way to source authentic images directly from fans at no cost.

3. Take advantage of real-time moments with mobile apps

The ubiquity of cell phones has allowed anyone to become a photographer for a brand. By giving employees and those who engage with your brand the right tools, they can take photographs of your products and services or at brand events and have them immediately uploaded for the marketing team to use in social content.

The opportunities can feel daunting for marketers in today’s rapidly evolving digital world, but there are many chances to create meaningful connections with your consumers. At Percolate, we are monitoring the trends in the digital landscape to create a product that continually grows to address the needs of marketers as the world of content creation shifts, so they don’t miss an opportunity to make those connections.