Not even two short years ago, more than 37% of marketers said visuals were the most important form of content for their brands. Since then, visual content has gotten even hotter.
The rise of ephemeral, user-generated, and visual storytelling content have infiltrated our social media feeds, forcing marketers to up their game and get way more creative about how they connect with their audiences.
In 2018, we expect to see some seriously cool developments in the way visuals enhance digital marketing strategy. Here are some of our biggest predictions.
#1 - Published Beats Polished
Gone are the days of enlisting your design department to carefully craft the perfect Instagram image. Today's consumers want authentic visual content, and they want it NOW.
Social media is no longer a simple sharing platform for having a one-way, one-sided conversation with your audience. These days, it's all about the dialogue. Don't let your side of the convo go quiet. Hop on a live video, post a hilarious homemade GIF and share real, behind-the-scenes moments with your audience.
Brands set on dominating their market in 2018 will let go of the idea of "perfect" and focus on publishing creative visual content faster and more often than anyone else.
#2 - Ephemeral Content FTW
It started with Pinterest and infographics and now vertical visual content has taken on a life of its own. Look no further than Instagram stories.
This new feature killed it in 2017. Even though Messenger and Snapchat stories haven't quite caught up, the fact that almost every social network offers some kind of option for ephemeral content proves that this type of fast, fleeting visual storytelling will definitely be big next year.
#3 - UGC Reigns Supreme
If the pressure of publishing awesome visual content every single day makes you break out in hives, why not join the ranks of Loew's, Calvin Klein and the (one and only) Biebs? Get your fans to do it for you!
User-generated content (UGC) has been making waves since 2015, and for good reason. Influencer marketing is the modern word-of-mouth marketing, and it definitely drives sales. In fact, 84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations above all other sources of advertising. And as a major cherry on top, most influencers are stellar content creators, helping you outpace the visual content joneses while really moving the needle on your sales goals.
Btw, did we mention businesses make $6.50 for every dollar invested on influencer marketing?
#4 - Lives Get Even More Engaging
You know we loooove video. And we've been seeing WAY more of it in our Facebook feeds.
We predict way more live video in 2018. It's already happening. Instagram users can now go live with a friend, or any other user on Instagram. Talk about interactive!
As live streaming capabilities evolve, marketers will have an awesome new tool to engage with users in real-time. Some experts even predict social platforms will introduce ads into live streams. It's hard to say how exactly this will play out, but with 80% of consumers saying they would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, you can't afford to overlook it.
#5 - Visuals Get Organized
Image recognition has been around for awhile, but this year we'll see it get WAY smarter.
Pinterest is already using visual discovery to pull up relevant photos for its users. You can even click on an object within a photo to find out where to buy it. And some are speculating that Facebook's AI-driven object recognition technology could also be used to help marketers create better targeted ads. For example, users who love posting foodie pics get ads for a Cuisinart.
In another example of visuals getting way more sophisticated, Instagram's Stories Highlights feature automatically generates a highlight reel from your archived photos and stories, lets you name it after a person, category, or emoji and save it to your profile. It's a whole new level of personalization never seen before on Insta.
We're so pumped about the rise of visual content marketing this year! What trends have you noticed? Got any visual marketing tricks up your sleeve for 2018? Let us know in the comments!