Images are more important than ever for online business success

Consumers and end-users are pushing demand for image-focused products online, which provides a convincing roadmap for start-ups looking to drive traffic to their web services. Social media has become the greatest example of this trend, as Pinterest and Instagram have been some of the fastest expanding sites for user bases globally. But the trend is visible across most platforms, from news sites to e-commerce platforms and mobile apps. The UK has also been representative of this trend, with strong graphics specialists backed by Bristol corporate finance and London corporate finance in launching new start-ups.

According to Hubspot, a marketing and sales platform, over the last 12 months to January 2015, almost every major social network, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram have increased the prominence and importance of visual content. Tweets with images received 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites and 150% more retweets in 2014, according to Twitter.  Instagram sees an average of 700 million photos posted each day, with 70% of users based outside the USA. The Middle East telecom operator Etisalat found, in 2014, that Instagram is now the leading generator of social networking traffic in the region.  It is also more popular with Qataris than Facebook or Twitter, according to Northwestern University.  In India, one quarter of the female online population are signed up on Instagram, according to Forbes business magazine in December.

BuzzSumo, which provides social insights for content marketing, analysed data in 2014 and found Facebook and Twitter users got more shares if they included at least one image. Facebook shares without an image averaged 28, while those with an image climbed to 64.9; corresponding figures for Twitter were 9.67 and 20.36. Instagram is the fasting growing social media platform: 37% of 18-29 year olds use it, and 17% of all online adults use it.  BuzzSumo highlights that 65% of target audiences are visual learners; 93% of human communication is non-verbal; and 80% of people remember what they see, while only 20% remember what they read.  It also finds that videos increase the likelihood of viewers buying a product or service by 64%.

Instagram, the photo- and video-sharing application launched in October 2010, has seen phenomenal growth. Today, 86% of top brands have Instagram accounts, up from 71% last year, according to research by Simply Measured, social media analysts, covering the fourth quarter of 2014. The number of mobile-only users on Facebook grew by 34% in 2014 alone, suggesting it is fast becoming the channel of choice for many.

Instagram has also been adopted by McDonald’s in an advertising strategy that has seen it garner a following of nearly 500,000. The fast-food giant uses mouth-watering photos of menu items to project a healthy, clean-cut image, a visual response to a counter-narrative that portrays it as a purveyor of calorie-laden junk food. Nearly all its photo content is branded with the McDonald’s logo, and there’s even a Ronald McDonald dedicated Instagram feed.


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