Perhaps you’ve come across the most re-tweeted tweet of all time. If you have, I guarantee you didn’t spend too much time reading it. But you probably did take a few seconds to absorb it.
This tweet, from President Obama upon winning re-election, fell well under Twitter’s 140-character limit with the simple statement: “Four more years.” It had a strong emotional impact, however, because of the image it contained -- the President tightly hugging his wife, smiling and exhibiting a profound contentedness only a photo could convey.
In this age of social media, the image has clearly become king. Images are at the heart of sites like Facebook and Pinterest. In fact, 70 percent of all interactions on social media sites involve pictures. We look forward to seeing pictures of our friends and their families, of weddings and sporting events and election victories and certainly of products we are considering purchasing. I’d argue that most often we go online for the purpose of seeing people and events and places and merchandise. Sure, we read too -- but the images often carry our online experience.
In this image-driven digital landscape, marketers and publishers are embarking on a whole new world of advertising opportunity. The image used in an innovative way is invaluable to business, as it has the power to increase Web site traffic, drive customer engagement and create new revenue streams.
Let me explain. Today’s marketing image is more than just a photo -- it’s an experience. It’s something for customers to connect with and share: the image captures the product in everyday use, goes up on the company’s Facebook page, gets “liked” and posted by hundreds of customers and boom -- those customers’ friends see the product and go to the company Web site. Think of it in the context of a running shoe … visual evidence on social media sites of runners racing with great form, clearly enjoying the shoe, other runners wanting to do the same and telling their friends about the product … it’s the best possible sales pitch.
But there’s even more than image-sharing available as marketing tools. Images can also be interactive. Marketers and publishers have access to photo technology that can capture entire stadium crowds in one image, into which viewers can zoom with such clarity that they can identify faces and “tag” themselves and their friends. Marketers can engage potential customers with these kinds of images by using gamification concepts that keep customers thinking about a product for an extended period of time.
The possibilities for marketing with images are endless, and it’s a technique that is in its infancy. But undoubtedly the time has come to begin the innovation, to start using images to create new ad models, reach new audiences and transform the customer experience.