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How Brands Successfully Leverage Visual Social Media Platforms

How are brands leveraging the top visual social platforms? Become a visual content ninja with these tips and tools.

Once you get comfortable with social media marketing on the top networks—Facebook, Twitter and Google+—you are ready to expand your horizons to even more social media audiences. Probably the most challenging for some businesses are the solely visual social media platforms. In this post, we’re going to look at how brands are successfully leveraging networks like Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat—and what you can do to boost your visual content database.

Why Brands Are Choosing Visual Social Platforms

Before we dive into examples, let’s look at why brands are tackling visual social platforms. There are two great reasons right off the bat. First, there’s less competition. Just about every business, B2B and B2C, is on Facebook. While not as many, there are still plenty on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Once you move into platforms like Snapchat, however, you’re looking at far fewer competitors. This means that you’ll really get to connect with users who are immersed in those platforms.

Second, if your business targets young adults, you’ll want to be where they are. This chart shows that after Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, the next top social platforms for 18 to 29-year-olds in the U.S. are Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Tumblr.

Infographic: Facebook's Reach Among Young Adults Is Still Unmatched | Statista

Brands and the Top Visual Social Platforms

Now that you know why brands are on visual social platforms, let’s look at how they are taking advantage of them to connect with their fans, generate buzz and promote their business.

Pinterest

Pinterest is easily one of the most popular visual social platforms for brands. You’ll find brands here from actors to TV networks. You can easily find them by visiting the Brands on Pinterest profile.

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AMC Theaters has a great profile to examine. Their pins include branded media, giveaways, movie lovers’ media, movie events and much more. They have boards focusing on specific movie franchises, plus collections like “the fashion of film.” If it’s of interest to movie lovers, they have a pin for it!

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It’s just one of many great examples of how Pinterest should be used to appeal to your target audience’s interests while mixing in some branding and advertising, as opposed to just straight out advertising to them in every update.

Instagram

People love brands on Instagram, and it shows when you look at the top brands listed by Nitrogr.am. Not only do the top brands have millions of followers, but they also have millions of posts to their branded hashtags. Talk about engagement!

brands-on-instagram

How many ways can you turn coffee into visual content? Tons if you look at Starbucks. The love they have for coffee—and the people who drink it—shows when you look at the images throughout their Instagram account.

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It’s just one of the many great examples of how Instagram should be used to show your passion for your product or service. When you have that kind of passion about your business, your customers will have that kind of passion for it too.

Tumblr

Tumblr is a blogging platform that brands use as a visual social network. Brands on Tumblr can lead you to many of the top brands using this network for inspiration.

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IHOP will make you hungry for breakfast with their collection of yummy still and animated images. They also mix in some reflagged content from their fans.

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It’s just one of the many great examples of how Tumblr should be used to get people excited about your business’s products and services, with the added bonus of being able to share content from others about you.

Snapchat

If you hadn’t even thought of Snapchat as a potential platform for your marketing campaign, here are a few reasons to consider it. Pew Research estimates Snapchat has 26 million active users in the U.S. Other interesting facts include 70 percent of users are women and 77 percent of college students use Snapchat every day.

Finding brands on Snapchat is a bit difficult, outside of the articles on sites like Social Media Today sharing some of the top Snapchat tips and examples of brands using it. One way to find the brands beyond the articles is to do a quick Google search for “we’re on snapchat,” which brings up a few notable brands off the bat.

brands-on-snapchat

One of these brands is Taco Bell. Their most recent Snapchat is a challenge to their audience to do some creative doodles on a photo of a box of tacos. The ones that they like best will be shared on their account.

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It’s just one of the many great examples of how Snapchat should be used to have fun with your audience. Not all contests have to be serious!

How Other Social Platforms Are Becoming Visual

Even if your business does not want to get into Pinterest, Instagram and the other visual platforms, you still need great visual content. Why? Because all of the top social platforms are demanding it. Here are just a few of the top places that visual content is required.

  • Facebook – Cover photos, larger images in link shares, images for advertising and video for advertising.
  • Twitter – The new large header image in the profile design plus emphasis on photo and video media shared within tweets.
  • Google+ – Huge cover photos and larger images in link shares.
  • LinkedIn – Banner images for company and showcase pages, images for link shares and images for advertising.

This shows that if you don’t have visual content for your social media marketing campaign, you will need to have it soon to keep up with your competitors and the demand of your audience.

How to Create Great Visual Content

Fortunately, getting great visual content doesn’t mean that you have to be a skilled graphic designer, that you have to hire one or that you have to invest in expensive software. Here are a few great tools that can help you join in the visual content era.

  • Canva – Free tool to create images for Pinterest pins, social media updates, Facebook cover photos, blog graphics, Twitter header images, and blog graphics.
  • Aviary – Mobile app to make smartphone photos even better.
  • GoAnimate – Simple do-it-yourself animated video creator.

The key is to remember: Your audience on visual social platforms is not expecting perfect design; they’re expecting to really get to know the real people behind your business. Don’t focus on perfection, but on what will make your fans excited about your business!