Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Visual Communication and Consumer-Brand Relationship on Social Networking Sites - Uses & Gratifications Theory Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Visual Communication and Consumer-Brand Relationship on Social Networking Sites - Uses & Gratifications Theory Perspective

Article excerpt

1Introduction

With the diffusion of technology innovations in digital photography and online publishing, growth in aesthetic demands has triggered an unprecedented movement in visual communication using various media over the past two decades [10]. In the present age of social media, visual communications are considered as a key ingredient in commercial and public communication. Social media with its interactive features has attracted millions to join Social Networking Sites (SNS) to connect with others. The social media users heavily rely on visual contents to communicate. This can be done by telling stories, entertaining their friends or by sharing their emotions with others [16]. Visual communication can be considered as one of the major tools used to enhance social media engagement, readership and even sales. Phrases like visual content is king or the visual web are powerful key-words in professional blogs, articles and white papers and are promoting visual content as a necessity, not an option [4], [5]. The famous statement, a picture is worth a thousand words holds true when messages that are sent through visual communication on Social Media are appreciated overwhelmingly [70]. But in all seriousness, visuals do carry a lot of power, especially for brands on social media as the elements of visuals allow marketers to create deeper connections with the customers [92]. Since the larger amount of information is available on social media, the users prefer to skip many contents until they find them more attractive and are convinced that it is useful to them. The high quality visual assures visibility in SNS as it is eye-catching and conveys the idea quickly [15], [92].

The visual communication can be used for dissemination of information and ideas using symbols, imagery, signs, graphic designs, films, typography etc. According to the Manic [85], Visual contents can be categorized into three major types:-

1. Illustrations- the composition of static visuals which includes drawings, photos and latest introduced visuals memes. This type of visual contents usually carries a line of text to brief the visuals. Illustrations are usually short in nature and very easy to understand.

2. Comics- the collections of images and text, structured in a proper order with a clear storyline. This type of visual content includes infographics (presentation of large information in a graphical manner) and visual stories. This type of visual is a good storyteller and easily remembered.

3. Videos- the collection of moving images in the form of clips or short films with a clear story and a short message. Videos are a very powerful means of communication to human emotions.

However, various studies have broadly considered only two components of visual content images and videos like photographs, graphics, images or videos [15], [96], [98], [117].

The growing popularity of social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube etc., has lead corporates to establish their social media presence and continuously pursue engaging their potential customers so that they can maintain a friendly relationship with the customers. For this purpose, the corporates are creating their own pages on various social media platforms where brand-related contents could be posted to connect the potential customers. This allows followers to express their opinions in the form of like, comment and share [71], [107]. In SNS, the sharing of visual contents relating to brands are becoming an integral part of the social media activities and this dramatic shift of interests towards visual contents has arguably changed the perceptions of people among themselves and the world around them [117]. Visual content communication is a powerful means to grow the presence of brand on SNSs because it is more influential than text messages [15]. Visuals provide vivid and concrete representations of information and are more accessible to a person's memory which makes processing and recall faster and easier [64]. …

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