Pinning our hopes on images this year

The marketing industry is abuzz with how content is being created in the form of arresting, powerful images that need to summarise the values of the brand, the look of the store’s front window and capture its latest products and services.

Images, videos and infographics are among the most talked about tools in reaching and engaging consumers this year.

We now need to create visual content for the little sisters of social media that have suddenly grown up and are gaining the attention of marketers, Pinterest and Instagram. Luckily, most have learnt a few good lessons from Facebook. The change to a more image centric view in 2012 has meant we’ve practiced using strong images coupled with short, sharp copy to reach followers.

Pinterest is hugely popular right now in Australia. Experian Hitwise data shows that it has grown 328% in the past year. The site’s sharing platform enables users to ‘pin’ images, and then categorise them to create a virtual pinboard or scrapbook per themes such as: cooking and recipes; entertaining ideas; DIY ideas for winter and so on. The images found (or searched for) are from brands such as retailers, re-pins of images on their friend’s boards and others that they follow.

It means brands should look to adopt the mindset of a publisher, in which images of products and services, experiential activity, brand ambassadors and previews of upcoming advertising campaigns can be posted on these social platforms.

Luxury local brand, Oroton, has added a series of its old print advertisements between 1951 and 2002 to show its heritage and how its product lines have maintained their high-end essence. It’s simple and clever. The astuteness of it is not needing to create any new content, but instead drawing on existing collateral to develop a board – to add to their other 15 – of nostalgic, fabulous images that are an important part of the brand’s history and are a ‘stamp’ on Australia’s fashion over the past 60 years.

Another luxury retailer, Burberry, has a board of images of London, showing iconic landmarks, city scapes, sunsets over the Thames and patriotic photographs; think strings of flags and bunting strung up for the Queen’s Jubilee. Again, simple in execution, but it does build on the brand’s overall social identity for the audience and create an engaging and emotive experience with Pinterest users.

Some may question, why should we bother doing this? How does it show ROI and at the end of the day, create more satisfied customers or generate more sales?

My response would be that it’s important to create valuable ways to connect to your audience, both online and offline. The examples of Oroton’s and Burberry’s Pinterest boards provide audiences with the choice to decide how they will interact with the brand, without advertising and marketing tactics jumping up and down and shouting ‘buy me now’ to consumers. Consumers are tired of the hype, ads at every turn, the flashiness of the past few years.

Enter this year’s biggest consumer trends: authenticity, simplicity and meaningful engagements.

Achieving this may take some experimentation – to successfully marry what works for each audience group – and what works for the brand.

At SXSW in March, Pinterest announced its new Web Analytics tool that will track how users are interacting with brands on the social scrap booking site and measure how many users have pinned items from their sites, how many others have seen those pins and how many people clicked from Pinterest through to the brand’s website.

The tool will allow SMEs to gain insights and data; for larger retailers and enterprises, they may need to rely on third parties for deeper level information.

One of the biggest changes that marketers will need to grapple this year is the power of the image. And also being comfortable with ‘art directing’ images that rely on few or no words to build consumer custodians of their brands.