2017 was an exciting year for visual marketing… And now that 2017 is over. The visual content marketing industry is looking ahead to 2018 and preparing for the next wave of trends that will shake the industry. The big question is whether we’re due a whole new set of visual marketing trends in 2018 or whether we can expect more of the same. But before that let’s just take a small step back and briefly see what visual content marketing really is.
What is Visual Content Marketing?
Visual Content Marketing is the way of using visual formats in your marketing strategy to engage with with people. Some examples of visual content are images, infographics, photos or videos. If you are a seasoned marketer (or even if you are not) you will probably know by now that content can take many forms. However, some of those forms can be blog posts, simple tweets, an online review, even a short comment on a Facebook post. Nowadays, brands instead of simply using any kind of content they prefer to utilise visuals, i.e. images, videos and GIFs. It turns out that visual content marketing is superior to traditional content marketing. If we really think about it, we shouldn’t be surprised, one picture is worth a thousand words after all!
Did someone say ‘strategy‘?
What is Visual Content Marketing Strategy?
A visual content marketing strategy is somewhat similar to a typical content marketing strategy. However, there are some clear differences. Every time a visual marketing strategy is devised though, the very first task is to set the goals. Since visuals take the front row, a brand needs to form a strategy that first of all entices the creation of visuals. Those visuals however need to be closely related to respective goals. Having come up with an initial plan then requires to agree on the appropriate channels for the chosen target audience. Finally, a continuous analysis of the performance of a visual marketing strategy requires the selection of the correct tools.
Facebook continued to place emphasis on live streamed video in its news feed. On the other hand YouTube battled the adpocalypse. Snapchat and Instagram fought it out for the title of the world’s favourite visual social networking sites.
4 Trends for Visual Content Marketing in 2018
No one can predict the future correctly every time, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth trying. Here are just a few of the trends that we can expect to see in 2018.
New ways of using ephemeral visuals
Ephemeral visuals are what we use when we post to Instagram or Snapchat stories, and it’s likely that they’ll continue to gain in popularity amongst both brands and users throughout 2018. The challenge for visual marketing departments will be to find ways to piggyback on this trend and to use ephemeral images and videos to promote their products or to run special campaigns and incentives.
At the same time, visual content marketing teams are looking for new ways to measure ephemeral messaging and to assign an ROI to it. With the demand there for more powerful analytics and the need for social networking sites to bring in more advertising, it won’t be surprising if we start to see more powerful social media analytics tools built into these platforms to encourage marketers to spend more time and money there.
An increased focus on 360°
360 degree photos and videos used to be something of a rarity. Now people are starting to get more and more used to seeing them in their news-feeds. Moreover, they work particularly well on mobile devices. They are more engaging for users as they allow them to interact with the content in a new exciting way. If they’re more engaging then they’ll be prioritised by social networking sites in their news feeds to encourage users to spend more time there.
Because of this, it’s a good idea for visual marketing teams to get used to creating this kind of content in both photo and video formats. Remember, though, that 360° visuals won’t bring results automatically. You’ll still need to maintain a high level of quality control over it. So that when you use it, the content itself is still the hero and the 360° format just underlines that.
Interactive streams and tips for creators
More and more people take part in live streams and more and more social networks introduce new tools. Hence, it’ll become more common for streams to take the form of a two-way dialogue. People no longer want to watch live streams – they want to take part in them.
At the same time, the adpocalypse has hit YouTube creators and changed the way that they monetise their channels. This is why many of them are turning to live streaming on either YouTube or Twitch. Many of these live streaming sites now allow people to make donations. That can be a new way for them to crowdsource the money they need to keep their content going. They don’t have to only rely on Patreon and other tools.
AI-powered visual content marketing
Artificial intelligence technology is getting better and better as time goes on. That’s exciting news for visual marketing teams and the companies that rely on them. AI and its sister technology machine learning can process huge amounts of data to draw conclusions. No human being could ever make that, while AI can even tweak images to make them as appealing as possible to a human viewer.
The upshot of this is that AI technology is likely to make its way into the tools that visual marketing teams use whether they’re aware of it or not. This is good news because it means that we can be more data-driven than ever before. They can use artificial intelligence to bring a little science to the art of visual content marketing.
2018 is set to be an exciting year for visual content marketing teams all over the world. It’ll be interesting to see how the industry continues to develop. It’ll also be interesting to see how visual marketers are able to take advantage of new trends and new technologies.
Remember, though, that the rewards are greatest for those who are first to get it right. This is why it’s important to keep innovating and experimenting until you land on an approach that works for you.
The good news is that a picture really is worth a thousand words. Visual marketing provides you with a way of telling your brand’s story in a way that people can relate to. The opportunity is there. It’s up to you whether you take it.