Posted by on December 1, 2018

What is social media marketing?

"Social media marketing, or SMM, is a form of internet marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media networks in order to achieve your marketing and branding goals."


To put it into perspective, currently, 50% of brands around the world have a presence on Instagram. Instagram has 800 million users worldwide and is rapidly growing. FaceBook had 2.23 BILLION monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2018. Every day 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook, 70 million are posted on Instagram and more than 7 billion videos are shared through SnapChat. There is also YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Weibo… the list goes on. The average person spends about 2 hours a day on social media! It is just mind-blowing. The ramifications for marketing are increasing exponentially. If you are not on social media in 2018 you may as well be invisible.

Importance of visual marketing content chart
Source: Venngage, "Visual Content Marketing Statistics to Know for 2017" Jan 3 2017

Just like any traditional marketing strategy SMM requires a plan. You also need to understand how each different form of social media targets their audience and who they reach in order to select which medium to reach your audience.

Why are images so important?

Getting your customer’s attention in the current age of rapid-fire media consumption is not easy. You have about 8 seconds to capture someone’s attention before they move on to something else. That’s one second less than if they were a goldfish! Human brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. This brings new meaning to the phrase a picture is worth 1,000 words!

Images eclipse language barriers

Images create emotional responses that make them stand out and linger in our minds. If you can trigger an experience or memory with an image you can give it meaning that far surpasses any words you might use. Pictures are perfect for storytelling. We are drawn to images that provoke our emotions, even negative ones. Emotion gives the story or experience value, and things that are perceived to be valuable, get shared. Choose pictures that evoke a deeper, sustained emotional response.

Visual content communicates more information, more effectively and is more memorable. When people hear information they are likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if you pair a relevant image with that information, the retention rate after three days increases to a massive 65%. If you want your customers to have an immediate and emotional reaction, and remember your product, you need to use visual imagery to get their attention. Consequently, the best way to create engagement with your target market in social media is with high-quality images that your customers can relate to.

Product photo Aberfeldy Single Malt Whisky

This year there have been major changes across all social media networks, including FaceBook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, which have highlighted the increasing importance of images. In fact, 32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business, with blogging a close second at 27%. A whopping 80% of marketers use visual themes in their social media marketing.

Visual content attracts followers by making you stand out. Material with relevant visual images get 94% more views than media without relevant images! Visual content can articulate your brand, convey an emotion, focus attention on important information, exhibit your product and increase traffic to your site.

Business to Consumer Content chart
2016 B2C Content Marketing Trends - North America: Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs

People make purchasing decisions based on how well they relate to you and your brand. Visual images help to build likeability and trust. Creating an emotional response is very important to help customers develop a personal relationship with you and your brand. You can even use personal pictures to strengthen this perception of trustworthiness.

Visual content is more engaging. Posts that contain images produce 650% higher engagement than pure text and are 40 times more likely to be shared on social media. Colour photos increase people’s willingness to read something by 80%. The algorithms of social media platforms interpret higher engagement as popularity and give those posts a higher priority, which then becomes self-fulfilling – as it leads to more engagement, and so on. This is how posts "go viral". If you can generate those kinds of engagement levels yourself, you can achieve real organic growth.


The use of video is becoming increasingly important. In fact, mobile video usage has increased by nearly 10 million daily viewing minutes in the last two years. Cisco projects that global internet traffic from videos will make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021.

360 video has also become an increasingly powerful medium and virtual reality is starting to draw more and more consumer attention. "Life in 360" has become a catch-phrase for 2018. Everything that is happening in any given moment can be captured in digital 360 degrees! There is nowhere to hide. Even I have bought a VR camera, complete with selfie stick! And since I got this neat little tool in my hot little hands I have realized it is not just a gimmick. There is SO much you can do with this technology and so many opportunities. It is definitely the way of the future.

Live Video

Live video is a cheap easy way to reach your target market. It also gives you credibility and a personal connection with people in comparison to prepared videos. You don’t need to be an expert videographer to produce them and your audience won’t expect them to be as professionally polished as something that has had a lot more time and funding invested in it.

Currently, 35% of marketers use live video. Human beings are naturally voyeuristic. We want to see what other people are up to, right now! We also want to show everyone else what is happening in our lives. We share what we had for breakfast, where we went on our last fabulous holiday, our new car, new dive gear, what our cat did yesterday, how much fun our lives are!

Information Source

Social media is not just entertainment. The internet is a huge source of information, and many people would rather ask Google for information than go to a real expert. “Dr. Google” and self-diagnosis has become the go-to for many people when they are unwell, instead of going to a real doctor. If people have a problem or want to learn how to do something their most common source of information is the internet. 70% of YouTube viewers are there to find “help with a problem” they are having in their hobbies, job, or studies.

Being a “YouTuber” or “Vlogger” has become a legitimate career choice. Globally, YouTube is the leading source of video content at 83%, with FaceBook second at 67%. Use of the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%! Clearly, video is becoming a very powerful medium.

YouTube logo
Indonesian Gili Islands sunset

You should think of your images as a central element of your marketing strategy. They help to tell your story and connect you to your target audience on a more personal level. The next chapter of this series about Imagery in Social Media Marketing will talk about how to go about creating great image content that your audience can relate to. With good image choices and optimization of those images, you can create great relevant content, and lead people on to becoming loyal customers that identify closely with your brand.

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