According to the Harvard Business Review, value—as it relates to business—is the worth in fiscal terms of the economic, technical, service and social benefits a customer gets in exchange for the price paid for the offering. Creating value starts long before the item is sold. This is where social media marketing (SMM) has proven to be very useful. SMM uses electronic word-of-mouth to create a value community. Adding visuals to your SMM increases its effectiveness even further as a marketing tool.
The Internet is no longer a linkage of written words. It is an ecosystem of ideas. Though text is still important, it no longer has the strength to stand alone. Because of the varying formatting across platforms, visual content is better suited for creating an integrated communication campaign. Facebook allows for both long text and visual media. Twitter is confined to very limited text, but lets users post mini-URLs to images. Networks like Pinterest and Instagram are primarily image-based. As opposed to seeing each of these networks individually, the new marketing mind looks at them as a single environment in which the consumer lives.
Capturing the Moment
Researchers have found that there is a direct link between consumer aesthetics and a buyer’s emotional response. A positive emotional tendency, called the emotional valence, will amplify a purchasing intention in the decision maker.
Visual media is one of the best ways to force these responses. Scan through a stock image database and catalogue the emotion, including its intensity, for individual photos. Puppies scampering, children playing, and the elderly laughing are obvious emotion drivers, but other videos and stills offer more subtle sentimental responses. A serviceman holding his newborn child can simultaneously provoke deep feelings of joy over the beauty and anger over the injustice. Match these emotions with your marketing message to drive customers to complete the purchasing process.
The introduction of mobile technology into the marketing mix has created an opportunity to fuse value propositions throughout all of the media platforms. Value fusion is the value that can be realized for the entire network of clients and businesses simultaneously, just by being on the mobile network. The research shows that consistency is the key for creating value fusion. Images need to be real-time, steady, and interactive between consumer and producer. Interactivity here means that your images have “like” links, sharing tools, and commenting abilities. The images also need to be concurrent across platforms. A mobile image does not need to be identical to a Facebook image, but it does need to offer the same emotional sales content.
There are some practical technological needs that must be addressed to get the best impact out of your images. Google and other search engines naturally find keywords in text but images do not have this luxury. In an effort to not lose precious SEO by introducing value-driving images into your content, make certain to have alt-text tags associated with the image. These special tags allow search engines something to index when doing a site search. A properly created alt-text tag will make your image content as searchable as your text.