The Visual Web is Social Media’s Future

Discussion
Nov 25, 2013

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from MarketingCharts, a Watershed Publishing publication providing up-to-to-minute data and research to marketers.

Fifty-four percent of U.S. internet users aged 18 and up now post original photos and videos online, up from 46 percent last year, according to a new Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Predictably, the study shows that users of two of the more popular sharing social apps — Instagram and Snapchat — skew particularly young.

Snapchat, which automatically deletes messages soon after they are received, is being used by 26 percent of 18-29-year-olds versus nine percent of all cell phone users. Among other key groups, it’s used by only five percent of 30-49-year-olds, three percent of the 50-64 crowd and two percent of those 65 and older. Interestingly, there’s no real gender disparity to speak of, nor is there any meaningful gap in adoption between whites, African-Americans and education-attainment levels.

By contrast, Instagram, which enables users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them across social media networks, has been used by 43 percent of 18-29-year-olds versus 18 percent of all cell phone users. That number is likely to rise over time given a recent study from Piper Jaffrey showing that Instagram is now the second-most important social network for American teens, tied with Facebook and behind Twitter.

While the adoption rate falls significantly among older age groups, 18 percent of respondents in the 30-49 age group say they use Instagram, suggesting that Instagram’s user base isn’t as heavily skewed towards youth as Snapchat’s.

Recent data from GlobalWebIndex indicates that 12 percent of smartphone users worldwide are using Instagram as of Q3, with that figure representing 130 percent growth from the start of this year. Earlier data from SimplyMeasured demonstrates that top brands are paying more attention to the app — and surely will be giving it a closer look now that ads are coming.

Other findings in the Pew survey:

  • Among Instagram users, 24 percent say they use it several times a day, while another 12 percent say they use it daily;
  • Fifty-six percent of female internet users post original photos on the internet ("creators"), compared to 48 percent of males.
  • Forty-seven percent of adult internet users report sharing images and videos they found elsewhere online ("curators"), up from 41 percent last year.
  • Both creators and curators skew towards the 18-29 age group.

 

Are video/picture sharing apps such as Instagram and Snapchat a “teen thing” or do they represent social media’s future? Do you expect the visual web rather than content-driven platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) will drive outreach and marketing efforts for brands and retailers in the future?

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17 Comments on "The Visual Web is Social Media’s Future"


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Paula Rosenblum
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

I suppose I’m not completely representative of my demographic (Boomer), but I love sharing photos. I do use Facebook for it because that’s where my friends are…but the purpose is the same.

Who would not want to capture images in time? It’s a great way to build and share memories. Plus, we live in a visual age…and the old saying is true “A picture’s worth a thousand words.”

It’s a big piece of technology’s future.

Max Goldberg
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

Why take the time and effort to write a thought when you can use a picture? Instagram and Snapchat have become the preferred means of communication for Millennials. It’s not surprising that they prefer photos over words.

As part of the ever-evolving world of social media, retailers and brands need to be aware of what their customers are saying and need to use the same media as those customers. For years we’ve been recommending that clients use video and pictures in their marketing efforts.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

Facebook and Twitter were both “teen things” before the older generations caught up. As the older generations caught up, the teens migrated to Instagram and Snapchat. The older generations may well migrate to Instagram and Snapchat as the teens move on to something else, since sharing pictures is definitely fun for all ages.

Tom Redd
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

From my read, the teens are not going to control the future of social media. Why? They lose interest too fast. Things like Instagram risk very short life cycles because the “kids,” or the 18 to 29 group, run on trends. Social is on an Instagram trend and from there will go where? I have found that with many in their early 20s are finding that sharing too much on social – video included – can impact their careers and “adult” image.

Social = Trends = Flash.burn.fizzle.

Zel Bianco
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

To feel like everything you do has to be photographed, captured on video and instantly posted is, I hope, a teen thing because if we all start doing it, God help us. We will no longer ever be in the moment, and that is what I believe young people truly miss in this instant posting environment. I don’t think that Instagram and Snapchat will replace content-driven platforms, but will most certainly be used by marketers to promote their brands in addition to all of the social media efforts currently being used.

Liz Crawford
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

The visual language is a universal language. The strength of that aspect alone qualifies it to be the lingua franca of communications, education, news, sales pitches, and storytelling. We are evolving to a new language of symbols – universal hieroglyphs – and a visual grammar, which can be read by people in various countries, cultures, generations, educational strata, and income brackets.

Larry Negrich
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

These quick-share apps are really quite different and I think will have very different adoption /attrition rates. I don’t think Snapchat translates well into adulthood – instantly sharing an experience that only lasts a few seconds then disappears is something that has more appeal to a privacy-conscious teen. (It is funny that teens seem to perpetually want more privacy yet share almost everything on social channels.) Instagram is a type of sharing that I think works well for a lot of age periods in a person’s life. I don’t think either is going to go away. Tight integration with some sort of larger social platform, I think, will give them longer staying power.

Of course there are some creative ways for marketers to use each of these tools. Now will the use of them translate into positive ROI for the brand? I wouldn’t want to have to manipulate the data to try to make a case for that…though I am sure someone will.)

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

There is always going to be something new tomorrow. When one platform is unveiled to the public, another is being started to replace it. Once the inquisitives in older (than teen) generations learn of something new, they will be anxious to learn and try it.

Kathleen DesMarteau
Guest
Kathleen DesMarteau
7 years 10 months ago

Social media technology has changed and will continue to permeate the way we communicate in both B2C, and, sometimes overlooked, in B2B. What a way to break down language barriers – use images.

Jonathan Marek
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

Let’s see: Did radio replace TV? Are magazine covers mostly text? Is a word worth a thousand pictures? Is a telephone more engaging than FaceTime?

Yeah, I’d say video is the future, and it has nothing to do with age. People of all ages are far more engaged in video than in text.

Martin Mehalchin
Guest
Martin Mehalchin
7 years 10 months ago

Social media and the web are definitely becoming more and more visual and there are multiple studies out there showing that visual content drives higher engagement rates. For retailers and brands in the short term, I would focus less on Instagram and Snapchat and instead invest in another visual-centric platform, Pinterest. Pinterest among all social channels has shown the most explicit ability to drive transactions and leading brands like Nordstrom are setting an example of how to leverage it.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

Just remember…the young get older and so do their habits.

Kenneth Leung
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

I think they represent the future because picture capturing and sharing have been around before social media (back then it was photo album or slide projector sharing when friends visit to see your holiday pics) and this does not change. The technology just made it easier and faster and ability to share more broadly to include strangers. Brands and retailers will find they need to cover all the channels going forward because the fragmentation of consumer information media will continue to increase

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

CPG and retail brands need to engage where they see ROI. The platforms will all continue to evolve and brands’ presence needs to cover as many as are appropriate for each brand.

Visual is far more engaging than textual, so it is no surprise on the swift growth of visual social chatter. Brands need to be careful not to overtly “sell” their products too hard, and simply join in the conversation to stimulate brand awareness.

John Karolefski
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

Visual is merely part of the evolution of social media. Everybody loves pictures and videos. It’s not a “teen thing,” and their parents will be catching up soon. Simple as that.

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
7 years 10 months ago

Overheard in Palo Alto….

Teens are abandoning Facebook and are losing interest in Instagram. Mark Zuckerberg knows this and is desperate to be cool again in photos – a crucial social category. Zuck thinks he can buy himself into teen relevance again.

The Snapchat founder has street cred. He famously turned down a $3 billion dollar offer from Facebook. Other items: he lives at home with his father, quit Stanford three courses shy of graduating and has won over smart valley money from the likes of Benchmark Capital. Snapchat is huge here.

The original view on Snapchat was that it was a tool used for Sexting but another more dominant view is that Snapchat resonates with the new ethic to leave no trace of things that define or incriminate. Teens don’t want to leave a digital footprint.

Disclaimer: Saving and posting photos are things old people do – I save and post photos.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
7 years 10 months ago

Images are the new words. Language is evolving toward pure symbology, so, yes visuals do represent the future of social media.

The answer to the second question is more difficult. Words aren’t disappearing so there will always be a place for language-based content. That said, If I look out 20 years I think visuals (including video) may outdistance text.

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