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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Social Media in 2016: Big Trends Emerge in Visual Content

    Posted by Cameron Bartlett

    The power of using great photos and videos in your social media posts has never been greater than at the start of 2016.


    2015 saw marketers relying on visual content more than ever, with videos and photos cited as their most valuable content. It’s clear that incorporating more visual content is important to stay relevant in the realm of social media.

    But don’t worry: you don’t have to be Jeremy Cowart or own a $5,000 camera to compete.

    Authenticity: More Important Than Ever

    You will, however, need to start getting creative. Be cognizant of both the quality and authenticity of your photo posts. Don’t post photos you think will sell--post photos that will intrigue and give people a reason to engage with your brand. Social has transitioned from just marketing into marketing that tells a story.

    Early in 2015, Twitter followed Instagram’s lead and updated their photo share settings to include the full photo, instead of only a preview. Hubspot found that Twitter cards with engaging images drive 55% more leads and Twitter Small Business added, “Twitter notes that tweets with rich media receive 313% more engagement and 52% more RTs”.

    When posting to Twitter, it’s more important than ever that your photos are high-quality, relevant and sized correctly. You don’t have to create a new image for every post, but when you do post, it’s important to use great photos.

    Instagram’s Move

    In August of last year, Instagram made two additions to their photo sharing options which affect us as marketers: portrait and landscape image and video cropping for posts. This may seem like small changes, but these updates allow for all new types of posts. They also prepare users’ images for use in ads.

    The three ideal sizes for square, portrait, and landscape are 1080 x 1080 (square), 1080 x 1350 (portrait), and 1080 x 566 (landscape).

    Facebook’s Move

    Facebook offers more photo options on their channel than any other network, including an option called Carousel.

    Creating a lookbook effect, this ad option allows brands to showcase multiple products or varied aspects of their services in one post, linking to one or many landing pages. Large brands have even experimented with the success of these on Instagram ads.

    Ditch the Cheesy Stock Photography

    2015 saw the continued growth of the anti-stock-photo sentiment among social media users. 2016 will, too.

    Stock photography has a tendency to look unnatural and even alienating for your viewers; the same goes for cheesy stock graphics. Millennials and even Generation Xers tend to associate stock photography with inauthenticity and cheesiness. They might also find these images to be salesy and off-putting. High-resolution, high quality photos are just more appealing, both in terms of authenticity and honesty.

    A major shift took place in 2015: social media users and businesses are no longer using images from stock photography sites like BigStockPhoto. Instead, they are utilizing photo sites that specialize in high-resolution images.

    They are also embracing candid, behind-the-scenes shots of themselves and their teams. As shallow as it is, people trust beautiful photos. So pull out your iPhone to get photos of your team or product in action. Some other spots to get beautiful, high-resolution images for free?

    Video on Social Media


    Let just say that sharing an old YouTube link simply won’t cut it anymore. Video has never been a more powerful engine for promoting brands.

    One of the main reasons it’s so effective is that it offers seamless integration at a time when the demand for high-quality, entertaining video is at an all-time high.

    Another reason? There’s a limited number of marketers taking advantage of its abilities. This all means that running ads with videos is super affordable and effective for your brand in 2016.

    Twitter started as a completely text-based social network; it now offers a full suite of visual capabilities, including photos, gifs, vines and up to 30 second videos.

    In January, they even added a feature to record video from their iPhone app. I know, not mind-blowing --especially since that feature has been available through the Youtube record app and other platforms for quite a while.

    It does, however, speak to why your regular link posts aren’t getting as much engagement as before--because there’s richer content being posted by your competitors.

    Similarly, Instagram made changes to their video dimensions, to ensure that users could post 15-second videos without having to crop important things out. They didn’t do this simply for ease of use; it was also done to integrate with Facebook video and give your 15 seconds of fame on Instagram a much longer shelf life.

    Because the demand for Facebook videos over YouTube has become so high, Facebook has made it easy for marketers and users to share their same videos from Instagram as a native Facebook video.

    Which then brings us to Facebook. Facebook video has become extremely popular, as its algorithm finds videos to be richer and offer more potential for engagement. In some ways, though, the algorithm isn’t totally honest: it counts things like views and autoplays as engagement, driving up the popularity of a post and increasing the likelihood that it will show up in other newsfeeds.

    What else should you know about Facebook video?

    • You can run ads for video views at an exceptionally low rate. We saw campaigns as low as $.01 or even a fraction of a penny. We’ve ran similar campaigns for Facebook ads to YouTube videos and found paid closer to $.10 or even $.30 per click, and saw a very low return of people who actually played the video once clicking on the link.
    • If you’re going to promote a video on Facebook, you have a few options. 1) You can use it in a link ad, to drive traffic to a landing page through a clicks campaign. 2) You can promote it for views, as mentioned above. However, if you’re looking to get great views on your video, it’s recommended to promote your video post through a post engagement campaign. A post engagement campaign means you’ll be paying likes, clicks, and comments, while also getting video views. This hack can prove to be an asset when promoting organic video.

    Another important thing about Facebook video is the worth of posting from and onto personal accounts. In the past, we’ve run tests posting the same or similar videos to both our client’s company page and to the company’s owner’s personal account. The personal account received twice the organic engagement than the post received with an ad budget.

    You’ll have limited analytics or ability to run ads with a personal post, and it may not fit the context, but personal newsfeeds can be very useful.

    As 2016 rolls on, we hope you find these tips for creating and distributing visual content on social media will inspire you and help you get results for your brand!

    Read More: 11 Totally Awesome Websites to Source Free Images


    Social Media Tuneup

    Topics: Social Media