Magazine article CRM Magazine

Why Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest Matter to Brands: Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Words, and Companies Can't Afford to Block Them Out

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Why Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest Matter to Brands: Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Words, and Companies Can't Afford to Block Them Out

Article excerpt

More than half (58 percent) of the top 50 brands post an average of 5.6 times a week on Instagram, according to Forrester Research's Social WebTrack study. The average engagement rate reported through that channel is 4.21 percent, compared to a mere 0.07 percent on Facebook, which is piquing analysts' interest.

"I don't think this is temporary," says Allison Smith, a customer insights analyst at Forrester. "Everyone has a camera in their pocket now and will be using visual social media more and more in the future."

It's not news that customers are turning to image-based social media sites such as Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest to document their lives, and, by extension, the products and services they use. And while it's generally accepted that customers are quicker to act on social media trends, brands are also taking to these sites. A great number of retailers and consumer packaged goods manufacturers are realizing that stories are being told through pictures. For example, if a couple is preparing for a new baby, the expectant parents might take a picture of the name-brand mattress they just bought for the crib-arguably an effective form of advertisement for the mattress company.

Analyzing social visual content can also give brands opportunities to act. If a company sees that its products are being used in novel ways, it can tap into that information and redistribute it through its own channels. Likewise, if it sees one of its products being used irresponsibly--like a liquor company spotting a case of underage drinking and a photo tagging its product--the brand can turn that into an opportunity to act responsibly and preserve its image.

But it's not just retail brands that have a stake in visual social media. "Compared to Facebook and Twitter, there's still not that big of an audience driving [visual] channels outside of retail," says Brent Leary, cofounder of CRM Essentials. "But I think as people get more beyond Facebook and Twitter, you'll see more business models depend pretty heavily on Instagram."

Many brands are failing to prepare for these shifts and aren't paying as much attention to visual social media sites as they are to text-heavy ones. Those companies have not worked out a sophisticated method for visual listening, Smith suggests, either because they have not developed a compelling visual brand or they simply don't understand just how widespread the medium is among customers. …

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