The growth of photo oriented social media sites has reached a frenzy with the popularity of sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. The social connectedness of these sites has huge implications for companies who extend their brands into the blogosphere simply by posting photos and adding captions. As reading time dwindles and perusing the web to glance at headlines and stare at pictures continues, is it any wonder that marketers are trying to connect with customers using these visual mediums? Consider this relevant news story from CNN Say Cheese that describes how various brands are using pictures to sell their products. Clearly these sites are not going away and are growing their customer base by leaps and bounds.


What does your photo say about your brand?


29 thoughts on “Visual Storytelling

  1. I think that using anything with visuals will help a brand, as long as they are flattering images. In these websites they usually are. I know personally if I see something on pintrest or instagram that looks good, I am more likely to go out and buy that as well. The image is one of the most important things in a brand. We are a culture that uses our visuals a lot, and with positive brand images we have a positive brand image of that company.

    1. I think visuals are extremely important since many people understand or remember a visual picture more than information. I am a visual learner myself therefore, if I see a diagram or chart I am more likely to remember it versus reading a written description. I also think that a visual helps people remember a picture or a brand that is associated with a company. I think a visual entices consumers and is a great way of selling a product.
      The other day at work a few of the employees were talking about pinterest and how that motivates them more than anything else and I think that is true to some extent.

      1. Using visuals definitely captures most people’s interest over a written statement. I’ve noticed that even with restaurant menus, I am more intrigued by the dishes that show the pictures. With how easy it is to get images on everything, pictures are definitely a great way to market yourself or your company/products. I’ve never actually tried Pintrest myself but have heard a lot of good things about it and how helpful it has been to people.

      2. A visual representation of something puts the intended message into a clear classification without little room for interpretation. When reading a description, it can take many different forms to the reader’s subjectivity. The visual approach Is a succinct way of communicating message.

    2. I totally agree in todays society visual social websites such as pintrest or instragram is HUGE!! just because everyone uses it, for any company to push their value brand through these sites will be beneficial for them.

  2. With companies utilizing Pinterest and encouraging consumers to post photos, I think adds a layer of humanity to a large corporation. It helps consumers to see a corporation as having values and commitments to certain causes perhaps. When I see a company encouraging photos from consumers, it does really help create that platform for conversation, outside of a realm of selling a product. I think it helps create an image that a corporation is concerned with its consumers, and interested in learning more about their consumers’ lives and what may be important to them. By seeing the photos consumers post, the photos they view on a company social media site, it enables companies to better understand what their consumers like as well as what they may be looking for in a future product.

  3. At the end of the article, the journalist asks if that kind of social media will help Starbucks sell more coffee. I think this question is inappropriate. Social Media are about “community” and building relationships. So the main purpose of these sites is to make people interested in the brand, and then drive them to the websites. At the end of the tunnel it may lead to sales, but this strategy is mainly about engaging with the brand. I agree with Whitney about the layer of humanity that it gives to the corporations. That’s why it seems to be a good strategy.

    1. I agree with you that the social media is about building a relationship with the customer, but I also think with pictures if people see a visual of something they are more likely to want that also. For instance if you are thirsty and see a Starbucks beverage you could be more likely to go get a beverage from there rathe than somewhere else.

  4. Images and visuals are a huge part of companies marketing themselves and their products. Any company can portray themselves the way they want through pictures, just as they can through text. However, I think that images can be more important than text because it adds a feeling of credibility to whatever they’re selling. Anyone can write how great their product is, but proving it is as good as they say to their online consumers would be difficult without images. Of course they could edit or photoshop any picture to make it what they want, but companies wouldn’t do this because people will always find out. Also, being able to visually see a product you’d potentially buy just increases your connection to the product because you don’t have to use your imagination to visualize yourself using the product.

  5. With an ever growing number of lazy people in the nation, using a picture to market is a brilliant idea. One picture can say so many things, what better way to tap into the minds of the lazy/non-lazy consumers than to provide a picture that DOES the speaking in the minds of the beholder? People would rather see images than have to read about something; using a picture (like the one above of our professor) can express a message and be more attention grabbing so it’s a win win.

    1. I completely agree with you about the lazy nation. People want to see pictures and do not want to read about something as well, but I can say that I don’t think that anything sells as good as something with a picture and a description.

      1. This is very true and funny. We do live in a lazy nation where people want to take a short cut as often as possible. I agree most people don’t want to read a long description or explanation for a product or service. Sometimes one picture will say a thousand words and people will be more intrigued to buy a particular service or product.

    2. I don’t we’re lazy as much as we are just bombarded with so much stuff to look at. 20 years ago, the only things that caught our attention was the newspaper (once a day), TV (one show every 1/2 hour), and the occasional person stopping by or calling.
      Today on facebook, I see a new posting every 2 minutes or less, and on twitter it’s even worse. Not to mention email, text messages, phone calls. It’s a lot more stuff to compete with, so we have to decide what we are going to spend our time with, and a pretty picture helps do the trick.

      1. Lucas makes a good point about information overload. There is too much information that we come into contact with everyday, so visuals and images are necessary if we are going to attempt processing all of it. Even twitter wants to limit the amount of information people can post, by having a 140 character max for each tweet– think if there was no limit, your feed would just turn into people thinking they were esteemed writers. The visuals that are available to get a brand across is vital to our sanity!

    3. Wow! i didnt even look at it like that. But you are right, people in today’s society are lazy. I wonder though, are they really to be blamed for their lazyness? Some could say that this social media and technology have turned the younger generation into a lazy bunch. It kinda seems like corporations are coming up with ideas to keep us lazy and perpetuate the cycle while they get rich.

      1. The greatest thing about creating a message based off of images is that you get to create the image and it will guide a customers connection to it. It also allows the customer to create their own idea of the brand and generally people like the ideas that they come up with. it gives a level of personalzation that cannot be matched.

  6. I think the strongest piece of visual storytelling is awareness. In the article they asked if the 620k #starbucks photos brought in more customers. First, i think it did, because that’s 620K little messages out there. But mostly I think this is effective when drawing awareness to a new product, or shedding light on an old product that people may have forgotten about.

    I have built many websites in my life, and every client I work with for the last 8 years I have said the same thing. On the internet, pictures are king. The features will come, but how something looks and what draws the attention is the most important thing. I was looking at boat magazines for inspiration on a presentation I was developing, and I found myself most drawn to the book that is 80% beautiful pictures, with some information throughout. Whats more interesting is that the boats that I was most interested in wasn’t the high end boats (some of their models were 1/2 the other books models), but they did the best job presenting themselves.

    So yes, I believe that these pictures and interacting online with these pictures is very important to the success of a stylish company.

  7. There is a saying that sometimes, you can translate or describe something in one look at a picture and it betters than if you would have to explain it in a thousand times.
    Picture capture a lots of things that words cant explain. Its important to deliver your message through your brand images,
    If I look unprofessional in an interview for a job at a fashion maganzine, then the first impression is already negative, doesn’t matter who smart, how much achievement I have… Sometimes, your brand image is what get you in the door before people even look at your resume or intereted in knowing you.

  8. Visuals are very important. The are universal at times and can transend arcoss cultural lines and language barriers. You can spend hours trying to explain something to someone but a visual can help a person understand in way less time. In the context of advertising, a visual can help express your brand and give the consumer a look at your product or service. A picture can tell a thousand words. It can intice people and motivate them to purchase or investigate. In today’s society, people are moving fast and constantly on the go so visuals are a quick way to catch their attention.

  9. I actually enjoy seeing companies using sites like instagram to tell a story about a brand. I believe it is a much more engaging form of communication with customers and gives them something they will actually remember. When I think back on my own childhood for instance, I really remember much more about brand images that slogans.

  10. Visuals is very important for marketers to delivery the message to the targeted audience. And by using sites like instagram and pinstripe really does help alot for creating a clear visual and help increase the company own brand image. Along with that, some people can also remember the picture instead of the words on the picture such as the logo of the company.

    1. I agree Rodney! The saying that pictures say a thousand words is a perfect example. Brand image can be catered to the image that people want. Customers will remember images because it’s something that could be easily relatable regardless of the content. Of course the company will filter that content, but anything on that commercial or picture could stand out to you and will help you remember that company.

  11. I agree that visuals are very important. Especially in marketing words and stories just don’t do it for consumers. They need visuals – we’re very visual beings and in order to keep our interest, the visuals need to be there to entice and excite.

  12. I also think that the visuals are very important and influencing. I think that a potential consumers seeing an elegant and beatiful picture of a product will be more likely to buy it. Social media focusing on visuals as Pinterest or Tumblr are very relevant because people go to the websites on a voluntary basis. And increase their own desire to purchase, not as advertising that clutters consumers days. The visuals social media is a very effective marketing tool for free.

  13. It is difficult to effectively measure the benefits, based on the use of social media, in terms of increased sales. However, one of the greatest benefits of photos and this new visual representation of the brand and products, is that it can put the brand in the consumer’s evoked set. Further, when the photos are shared or liked by one person, it can create a domino effect if the same photo is then re-blogged or shared with that person’s followers, then re-shared by all of those who see the shared version and so on. Its an easy way to put your brand out there for everyone to see.

    I also feel as though, for almost any brand, visuals are more important than text when it comes to advertising and marketing. Visuals are much more easily remembered. They also can easily give a sense of certain types of lifestyles that people may aspire to have. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to then purchase items from your company.

  14. As a photographer who makes 90% of his money through Instagram, I’ll tell you that good photography is one of the best ways a brand can move their proverbial needle. Photos cut through the noise, communicate a message and truly speak a thousand words.

    I’ve made tens of thousands of dollars from the top brands in the world who want me to help them communicate their story through simple eye-catching photos. And they’re seeing a real return on their investment time after time. I even get hired to work with big and small non-profits to help them communicate their stories in order to bring in donations for particular causes. Photography actually makes a difference.

  15. Recently, a new social media called Snapchat entered the media battle grounds. While Instagram, Pinterest and other picture posting site give a concrete platform to post pictures and wait for fans to interact, the issue of time and speed isn’t heavily weighted. Snapchat is the “in the moment” or “flash-promotion” side of social media advertising and marketing. Snapchat pictures post “stories” that only last 24 hours on a profile. While Snapchat isn’t huge yet, the base for snapchat is growing exponentially in terms of the user base and pictures taken! This is a huge opportunity for companies to promote flash sales because it’s the perfect medium!

  16. A great example of how one company is taking advantage of photo-generated social media sites is the TV network, the CW. The CW features one of my favorite TV Shows, “Reign.” This series is currently in the run of its second season; based on the historical fiction of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, in her early years throughout the early 16th century.

    The CW network promotes the TV series on multiple social media platforms. Currently Reign has a proactive Facebook account which consists of 741,160 page likes along with a total of 101K followers on Twitter and 40,238 followers on Instagram. However, last season, Reign fans rapidly took an interest to posting photographs of the show’s 16th century fashions across a string of social media networks. Due to this high volume interest, the CW network quickly responded by promoting the series on a dedicated Tumblr blog. This blog consists of a gossip mock magazine labeled, “M Lady Magazine.” Not only has this increased the spread of Reign’s fashion followers, but in doing so the network found that fans were beginning to post on the social media platform Pinterest. CW is now focusing its entire social media efforts towards the photo generated social media site Pinterest, and has launched, “M Lady Magazine” via their Pinterest profile. CW is basking in this costume drama excitement that has cultivated around the historical series. The network has also decided to only engage Pinterest fans with the sole purpose of growing their Reign community fan base, rather than buying Pinterest ads. Currently, Reign has a total of 21, 365 followers on Pinterest over only 192 pins.

    I believe that the direction the advertising is heading is going to be based on fewer words and enhanced pictures; this allows for the consumers to unfold their own stories with the advertisements, as a way to connect and engage with the brand/company in a brand new way.

    Check out, Reigns Pinterest Page-

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