PrintArthur Brisbane, one of America’s best known newspaper editors in the late nineteenth century, is known to have coined the term “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Never have his words held more ground than today. With the rise of the picture-centric social media networks, ‘visual appeal’ as a concept has suddenly jumped into prominence. In simple words, a prospective consumer will be attracted to your product’s image quicker that a text description of your product.

Take a leaf from the big brands’ notebook

Some big shot brands who have used Pinterest and Instagram to increase their online reputation multifold, make for good case studies here. Starbucks, for instance has become an Instagram juggernaut ever since it hopped onto the photo sharing site back in 2011. The logic has been simple – focus on the consumer’s connection with the brand rather than the brand itself. This has made for a much more engaging interaction setup between Starbucks and its consumers. Not to forget, the images are beautiful, which only adds to the overall aura of the brand. Their Instagram feed consists of images ranging from their bean roasting machines to their coffee-tasting session, but their biggest USP is the images sent by Starbucks fans that clog the majority of their feed. A camera(phone) is almost always handy to an average Starbucks visitor these days … and perking them to click pictures and send them in is helping the brand create a distinct online identity for itself and its products.

A similar case study worth an analysis is Sony’s ‘Pin It To Give It’ campaign. Sony ran the campaign in December 2012, when they had their product images pinned to a board that went by the name ‘Pin It To Give It’. For each time a pin from this board was repinned, Sony donated a dollar to The Michael Phelps Foundation. The hallmark of this campaign was it’s innovative approach to get people to repin from their board. Once again, the brand shifted the spotlight from the brand itself, to the brand’s charitable facet. No wonder then, it did Sony’s online reputation a world of good.

Connect through images

Pinterest and Instagram are blessings in disguise for most brands. Come to think of it, coffee chains, restaurants, modeling agencies, interior decorators, landscape decorators, manufacturers of cosmetics, etc., all should find solace in the fact that image sharing communities are here for them. For such brands, it becomes all the more necessary to reach out to their consumers digitally and visually, since they have the means for it. Their products are such that the digital marketing to physical purchasing conversion is higher when marketed visually. If your product does not have the cool quotient to be clicked and posted on Pinterest or Instagram, do not rule them out. You need to find out better ways of doing it. Case in point, General Electric’s Instagram account. GE connects with its followers on the basis of its brand’s legacy, not its products. GE’s realized their products don’t make for pretty pictures (how many light bulbs or turbine engines would you want to see anyways). So GE turned to its factories and manufacturing units,. Larger than life, over-whelming, and awe-inspiring images is what marks GE’s online footprint.

Devise a logic for your strategy

Brands need to realize that to appeal visually to the consumers, only pretty images aren’t necessary. The brand needs a strategy that veers away from the tried and tested, and yet remains tangential to the brand. The strategies need to differ for different platforms. Remember, apart from images, Pinterest and Instagram have barely anything in common.

Understanding the platforms and their requirements

Content from various sources User generated images
Nature of content: User Images, Infographics, etc. Images clicked on a user’s smartphone
User Trust: Moderate to High User Trust: Very High
Exposure to overlapping networks Exposure limited to a personal network
Probable target audience: Huge Probable target audience: Limited
Lack of personal engagement Fantastic scope for personal engagement
Repin to reach out Use hashtags to reach out

On a picture sharing site, most brands tend to ignore the call to action. The assumption is that pictures will be liked or shared. But making it clear would be better. Tempting the users into it, even more. For example, “Repin the snap and you could be our fan of the day!”

Pinterest and Instagram still haven’t really reached that stage where brands start making elaborate individual social media campaigns for them. In a world, which holds social media increasingly important, Pinterest and Instagram are bound to grow. Consumers expect brands to evolve along with the evolving social media, and the cultivation of a brand-centric community for Pinterest or Instagram is not a distant possibility.