The Rise of Visual Social Media

Over the last year or two, social media has entered a new stage of growth and it’s focused on “visual content” that can be created, consumed and shared easily. This is one of the main keys to building a large fan base as well as communicating with them; by providing engaging visual content that will ignite them to action. Photos and graphics are a great example of this.

Facebook first exhibited this when it introduced a new feature called the timeline, where users’ Facebook profile became a visual representation of their Facebook existence. Additionally, Facebook allowed users to start adding events, past locations and milestones to their Facebook profiles. Now this profile page not only became a visual representation of a user’s online life, but their offline life as well. Facebook also started filtering a user’s newsfeed to provide customized content based on the top 30% - 40% of people a user interacted with most. In order to get more people to interact with the user and see their posts, they had to be more visual in nature, specifically with photos and graphics, because these could be shared and consumed easily from any device.

Google+ has also focused on “visual content” within their social network by recently adding quite a few features. The large cover photo that each profile page has is a great example; it’s the first thing you see when you go to a person or business google+ page. Google+ has also updated their photo albums with larger viewing options and full-sized photo uploads. Larger photos hold people’s attention longer and increases engagement. The option for full-size uploads allow people to keep their entire photo albums within Google+. Additionally, Google+ highlights and expands photos and videos in the stream so that they stand out while people are viewing then, thus drawing the user’s attention more quickly, especially on mobile devices.

When Twitter added the ability to share photos from within Twitter without having to use an outside service, it was a clear sign that Twitter realized the importance of visual features. Then, Twitter added a cover photo and photo album feature on the user’s profile page where people could see all the photos they uploaded to Twitter. This was yet another visual feature that pulled people to their site, made them stay longer and gave them more reasons to share photos on Twitter.

More recently we have seen the rise of platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, two fully visual social networks that are built on media such as photos and videos. Instagram, fresh off its one billion dollar deal with Facebook, has become the #1 mobile photo sharing application. The best part about Instagram is that it’s completely mobile which displays the power of mobile photo sharing. Likewise, Pinterest was initially thought to be only a photo sharing sight for women and moms but as Pinterest’s popularity has exploded, it’s now more than just a network for photos. Their secret is that they also accept videos. This multimedia social network lets people “pin” photos and videos expressing themselves and their brands in full multimedia fashion. And finally, let me not forget YouTube, the #1 video site on the entire Internet where you can find any video about anything.

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