Last week we told you that a picture is worth a thousand words. Not new information, I’m sure you’re thinking, but if you read our last post and realize that you need to apply that little cliché to your content marketing, maybe you’re now saying to yourself, “I’d better get on this.”
Visual content for marketing isn’t new. Your first instinct for sharing a new video is probably to go to the gold standard, YouTube. Right? Founded in 2005, YouTube has since amassed more than 154 million monthly users in the United States alone. Marketers were quick to leverage the video sharing site to promote brands and businesses — in fact, 36 percent of U.S. businesses with more than 100 employees use YouTube for marketing. But YouTube isn’t the only channel available to content marketers for sharing visual content, and it’s not the only place to find your audience.
Today’s post will introduce you to some of the most popular applications you can use to distribute your visual content. And because connecting with followers on your photo and video posts requires a different sharing strategy than some other types of content, we’ll also provide hints and tips for leveraging these social sharing apps to increase engagement with your brand.
By now you’ve probably heard of this online sharing app that allows users to capture pictures, add a frame and filter, then post their works of art across social media properties. What you might not know is that Instagram is useful for more than just selfies and snaps of your Sunday brunch. Brands that use Instagram for marketing have access to more than 100 million active users who snap 40 million photos a day and post 1,000 comments per second. Instagram also recently launched a video feature that transforms its photo sharing app into a multimedia marketing machine.
- When using the photo feature, users have the ability to take photos directly from the app, or to upload photos from their phone’s camera roll. Take note, however, that video must be shot from within the application.
- Instagram video offers up to 15 seconds of video recording, as well as the ability to delete a segment of the video if you want to edit it.
- Several filters are offered for both the photo and video functions to help add visual appeal (or, if you’re like me, to mask poor photography skills).
- Instagram videos play in-line on Facebook for desktop users (unlike Vine and Twitter videos that require users to click out of the application to view videos).
- Make sure your profile is complete: Choose a profile image (your company logo is always a solid choice), and don’t forget to include a company bio that links to your website and other social media pages.
- Get to know the lingo: Hashtagging is an important part of Instagram culture. Make sure to tag your photos and videos with brand- or industry-specific terms (like #contentmarketing or #CMWorld) and learn how to leverage popular app-specific hashtags (like #throwbackthursday and #latergram) to expand the reach of your content.
- Build relationships with your audience: Hashtagging can help new users find your content, but don’t forget that you can also use them to search for and engage with users who share positive images or videos associated with your brand or industry. Don’t be afraid to respond to any negative posts via the app, too. Your followers will appreciate the effort.
- Choose a great cover frame: Instagram allows users to select a still shot to serve as a cover for their video. The better the cover frame, the more likely users are to watch your video.
Vine is a mobile app owned by Twitter that enables users to create and share short video clips. Since its release in January 2013, Vine has amassed 13 million users who upload more than 1 million videos daily. In June of 2013, it was both the most widely used video-sharing application and the most downloaded free app in the iOS App Store.
- Vine videos are capped at a maximum of six seconds each.
- There is no edit feature — users must delete the entire video and start over if they don’t like what they see.
- The Vine app now includes embed codes for video clips, which allows for easy sharing on other social sites like Twitter and Facebook.
- Make every second count: Because you only have six seconds to tell your story, Vine forces you to cut out the fat, so a carefully considered plan is especially crucial for success.
- Appeal to short attention spans: Rather than treating the time frame as a limitation, think of it as an opportunity to create concise and impactful messages to reach your audience. Attention spans in the Internet age are short — capitalize on that with a really efficient message.
- Try stop motion: Vine videos provide a great opportunity for you to flex your creative muscles. You don’t have to shoot six consecutive seconds of video — some of the most powerful videos splice together bits of nonconsecutive video content to create a montage.
- Hashtags work for Vine, too: Instagram isn’t the only app that uses hashtags. The same rules apply for Vine.
- Leverage your existing videos: Extend the life of content from an existing video library by creating six-second shorts that serve as a preview for your longer video content.
Snapchat is a mobile application that allows users to upload photos and short videos to send to friends. The unique aspect of Snapchat is that once the image or video has been opened by the recipient, the message is deleted from the phone, from the app, and from Snapchat servers. While you’re probably aware of the, ahem, less-than-G-rated uses Snapchat has become known for, don’t let its rep deter you from exploring creative ways to reach new user (remember: there are a lot of them out there). In less than two years, Snapchat has acquired 5 million daily active users who send more than 200 million snaps a day.
- Snapchat is a visual messaging application that allows users to take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send the “Snaps” to a controlled list of recipients.
- Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps, ranging from 1 to 10 seconds.
- After users view the Snap, the messages are deleted from all devices and the Snapchat server, but users can take a screen shot of the image (if they are quick enough).
- Create content that is “Snappable”: The best Snapchats are those that communicate everything in a single picture or video. Get to the point if you want to make an impact with your message.
- Master the art of the limited-time offer or sneak peek: To leverage the unique ephemeral nature of a Snapchat, experiment with limited-time discounts, special offers, or sneak peeks at a new item. Taco Bell did this with great success when they Snapchatted fans a picture to announce the return of their Beefy Crunch Burrito.
- Create a sense of urgency: Your audience will have 10 seconds or less to digest your message once it is opened, so think about what you want them to do once they view your content and craft a compelling call to action to drive leads or engagement. (Taco Bell’s Snap was a photo of their Beefy Crunch Burrito and the date it would be available.)
- Experiment with segmentation: For each chat, you can choose the list of recipients, which can be a great feature for marketers looking to reach specific segments of their audience.
Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo sharing site that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections. Users can browse other boards and “repin” or “like” images. The site isn’t only populated by craft and cooking enthusiasts — this extremely popular app has more than 27 million unique visitors and 220 million page views a day. In fact, Simply Measured research reports that 69 of the world’s top 100 brands have Pinterest accounts, and that the site drives more traffic to websites than Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or YouTube.
- Pinterest users can upload, organize, and share images (known as pins) and other media content (like video) through collections known as pinboards.
- Boards are typically organized by topic or theme. Users can browse pins on their home page or search the four main browsing sections: everything, videos, popular, and gifts.
- Content that is located outside of Pinterest can be uploaded to the site via a “Pin It” tool.
- Social sharing occurs when pins are “liked” or “re-pinned.” You can also follow pinners who post within your niche.
- Businesses can now create a business account, which offers access to features not available in personal accounts (see below).
- Set up as a business account: Driven by the contribution of quality content from the business community, Pinterest recently rolled out business accounts. While the account won’t look any different from a personal Pinterest account, categorizing yourself as a business will allow you to access commerce, advertising, and analytics features available only for business accounts. Business users also have access to exclusive educational content, like case studies on how to engage an audience or to utilize group boards — all valuable resources for content marketers.
- Optimize your account and pins: Make sure your audience can find your content by taking steps to optimize your account and your pins. A few necessary steps include verifying your website, adding a Pinterest icon and “Pin It” button to your website, and using keywords to help optimize your pins.
- Leverage analytics: One the best new Pinterest features for marketers is access to free analytics. The tools allow you to track activity and trends to gain insight into how your audience interacts with your brand.
- Make purchasing easy: Pinterest isn’t just a tool for creating a visual wish list — new features have transformed the app into an e-commerce powerhouse. Comscore reports that Pinterest buyers spend more money, and they do so more often and on more items than any of the other top five social media sites. So make sure your pins include a “Buy Now” button and detailed product information to make transactions easy.
- Use it as a source of inspiration: The content you pin should engage and inspire your audience, but don’t forget that you can use the site as a springboard for your own brainstorming sessions. Search for popular pins by browsing different categories and searching for which pins are building the most buzz. Then use that information to inform your content marketing strategy.
Creating compelling visual content can be a powerful way to connect with your audience. But remember, videos and images won’t generate tangible business results if you aren’t using the right tools and tactics to distribute your content. However, if your organization can learn to use visual marketing apps effectively and creatively, you’ll engage with new audiences looking to create, watch, and share visual content, which can give a boost to your brand and your bottom line.
Do you use any other applications to create or share visual content? Share them in the comments.
For more content marketing approaches, check out our free content marketing eBook: “How to Grow Your Business with Content Marketing.”