Recently, Read Write Web’s Richard McManus penned a series of articles around ‘The Visual Web’, “meaning that images and video are becoming an increasingly important part of what we consume online.”
I couldn’t agree more. Speaking personally, Instagram started replacing Twitter as my social network of choice about a year ago. More to the point, there is now a wealth of statistics to underpin what Richard is talking about. This is specially when you consider that many of the biggest social media stories of the past year – Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest and now the likes of Socialcam – are visual.
Here are just a few of those stats:
- Most US and UK consumers now carry a device around with them allowing them to take and share engaging photos and video. According to Comscore, most UK mobile phones are now smartphones. The other day, Nielsen came out with research saying the same for the US.
- And more and more of those smartphone owners are using those features. In 2010, 52% of photos in the US were taken with ‘single purpose cameras’, while 17% were taken with smartphones. In 2011, that ratio changed to 44% / 27%. Similarly, here in the UK, almost a third of consumers say their smartphone is the camera they use most often
- As a result, we’re heading towards a point perhaps 1-2 years down the line where smartphones will account for the majority of pictures taken. Indeed, the iPhone has been the most popular camera on Flickr for a while now
- So there’s a huge growth in people taking pictures with their smartphones. There is too in people sharing them. At Christmas Instagram had 15 million users. In March it was 25 million. Now it’s 50 million, and growing at five million a week
- When it comes to mobile video, Socialcam has 36 million users, while Viddy has 26 million and signing up one million a day
- Tumblr, a blogging platform that lends itself more to images and less to 1000 word missives, is now the world’s largest blogging platform with 20 billion blog posts, 50 billion blogs and more than 120 million users. Indeed, Tumblr will soon overtake the generic ‘blog’ as a term in Google searches
- Visual social networks are not only getting sign-ups, those signing up hang around. Though I suspect the numbers have changed since then, at SXSW Instagram boss Kevin Systrom said 67% of users had logged in the previous day.
- Similarly, the latest emarketer figures show that worldwide, Tumblr and Pinterest users spent 89 minutes a month on their networks, compared to 21 minutes for Twitter users and 17 minutes for LinkedIn users. Yes, Facebook dwarfs all of them with an average of 405 minutes a month / user, but I suspect some of that is due to people having Facebook on in the background during the day
- And speaking of Pinterest, it now sends more referral traffic to sites than Twitter despite being only 7% as big. There is a debate about whether those referrals translate into sales, but I agree with the argument that it all depends what your Pinterest boards refer them too (i.e. whether they buy or not is really up to you).
So what should you do as a brand? Shift your social media strategy from being word to being image led – or at least change the mix between the two. Related to that, develop a visual social media strategy. Register your profiles on various visual social networks and figure out how you want to illustrate your brand. Because if you don’t, millions of consumers will do so anyway.