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Friday, 24 January 2014

The new language of sharing : Visual Social Media

This week, I had an interesting first hand experience of how Instagram can be used. I was suppposed to meet an artist from the USA in Jaipur but I was unable to connect with her on her mobile, through email or whatsapp. It was puzzling, because I could see that she was online, and she was regularly sharing snaps of her travels in India through Instagram. Finally, she wrote to me on Instagram, sharing the details of where we were supposed to meet! I was amused, as this was the first time anyone had used Instagram to connect to me with important information. I mentioned this when I met her. She told me that of all social media, she uses Instagram the most extensively. I love the way she put it 'It's like a modern way to send a postcard to someone'. When you think about it, that's exactly what Instagram is. A postcard where you get to pick the frame and design the look, the way you want it. It's no wonder that Instagram is hugely popular, and is currently the fastest growing social media site, overtaking the combined growth of LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Both Instagram and Pinterest, the popular picture pinning site have shown interest in attracting brands in a quest to monetise their growing user bases. The challenge for a marketer is that these are new and untested mediums, and  we are not sure how or how much they would benefit a brand. Also, we have seen that marketers are reluctant to add yet another social media, that needs to be managed. It's mandatory to have a website, to use Facebook, to at least be present on Twitter, and to have a YouTube channel. We cannot blame you if you feel that adding one more medium would dilute your efforts and increase your expenses. 

As a corollary, there are also many advantages of being on these media right now

1) There are less brands, and therefore less clutter, giving you a better chance to stand out to users
2) Users themselves are still exploring and understanding the medium, and are perhaps more open to interactions with brands (On Facebook, we are rapidly getting saturated)
3) There is enough evidence that younger audiences are rapidly adopting visual social media, and are likely to be more engaged on these mediums than on Facebook, going ahead.
4) The visual medium can inspire your agency team to make a very fresh creative interpretation of your brand and brand message. And it is also more compelling for users, and more likely to be shared.
5) Both offer fantastic ways to interactively involve users. And this can also help you to understand your users much better.

We would like to point out that visual social media are capturing people's imagination and therefore it is time for us to at least start understanding the user and user behaviour on these media through research. And parallelly, to understand how other brands in our product categories are using these media, so that we also get ideas and inspiration for  what is possible.