A picture really is worth a thousand words. Visual content marketing uses rich images to convey information, especially images of a product in the hands of a consumer. Social media is where we consume most of our visual content. And while it’s generally accepted that influencers produce the majority of this “products in use” content, it’s not uncommon to see posts from your first-degree friends where branded products are present.

It’s just a part of our social network-connected world and that means a big opportunity for your brand to spur social buzz from this natural desire for us to share our own visual stories on social media. Just like people, visuals play an important role in many assets of a business’ identity.

With our specializations in digital promotions, our clients have taken full advantage of using tactics such as contests and sweepstakes to revive and kickstart their visual content needs.

Why are visuals important to content marketing?

As expected, visuals and social media play a huge role in supporting communication and marketing. Social content is becoming more important within digital marketing, as 78% of consumers say companies’ social media posts impact their purchases. In addition, customers are 6x more likely to purchase a product if the page includes pictures from social media, such as a gallery of fan-submitted photos.

Visual content can stand alone on places such as Instagram, or make other forms of content more inviting, such as blog posts. They can help us digest information faster and are easy to consume. Neurologically, the visual parts of our brain can digest visuals at a faster and easier rate than reading, listening, or speaking.

In one study, when relevant images are paired with information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. Versus the 10% who digested information without images. Visuals are a powerful asset for marketers to make an impact.

Where Marketers Fall Short

Sadly, many marketers struggle to capitalize on the proven benefits of visual content. When struggling with visual content strategy, the top issues reported include:

Producing Content

Despite the benefits of visual content, many marketers struggle with visual content marketing. One of the top challenges is production and sourcing content for their brands. When it comes to the challenge of consistently producing visual content, Venngage reports that within a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most difficult), 47% percent of marketers report a level of 7 - “very difficult” - or higher.

Overspending

In addition to the struggle to create, marketers are overspending to produce content. Beckon Research reports that brands are spending a year-over-year rate of 3x just to produce branded content.

Poor Returns

Despite brands tripling spending on crafting branded content, most marketers continue to see poor returns. In the same report, Beckon Research discovered that 95% of branded content is ignored by consumers.

Marketers are spending time with internal creative teams to develop content or outsourcing it to agencies. In either circumstance, they’re detracting their time and money with very little results. Much of the problem can be attributed to marketers not understanding what their audience wants. And collectively these problems fall into one core issue: Authenticity.

Despite the effort placed into creating branded content, audiences are feeling disconnected from brands. Much of this is caused by their preference for authenticity in content that is personable or personalized.

As it turns out, consumers would much rather see more authenticity from brands. 81% of consumers report their purchase decisions are influenced by their friends’ social media posts.

Quickly producing engaging visuals is a struggle for many marketers. Many are left feeling pressure to adjust to these demands and some have discovered the best solution: User Generated Content (UGC).

How Authentic, User-Generated Content Drives Results

Brand-created content only speaks for your business, and shares little to no connection with your audience. So what benefits does UGC drive for authenticity andmarketing?

We’re more likely to trust the opinions of our friends, family, and peers. Customers that happily and voluntarily produce content for your brand act as endorsers. They refer the people who trust them to your products or services. UGC is authentic to audiences because it comes directly from the people they relate to.

Customers are creating visuals for brands everyday. It’s important to develop the right promotion or strategy to encouraging your customers to create content about you. UGC has a huge potential to lower the extreme costs many marketers are paying for content. And best of all, it gives your brand a more authentic relationship with your consumers.

People are becoming distrusting and wary of advertising - as of 2017, roughly 615 million devices have an adblocker installed on it. UGC helps cut through the clutter by giving your brand a more human tone, as well as the word-of-mouth that takes place when someone posts or shares about your brand.

The right tone and authenticity has become important for consumers to decide what brands they choose to support. This impact is so great, that most consumers can identify and distinguish consumer-created content versus brand-created content.

The Visual Content Marketing Strategy Solution

Many brands have found a healthy balance between branded content and user generated content. Studies show this strategy works best for social media engagement, as consumers are more likely to engage with content that is curated and authentic. This approach works well because it creates a conversation that allows both the brand and consumer to speak and create a relationship.

So how can (and do) marketers produce effective, authentic content at a lower cost? By adding User Generated Content (UGC) to their visual content marketing strategy.

Smartphones have given consumers the ability to create content and make purchases in their pocket everyday. Exploring their social feeds, consumers can discover new products and services daily - from friends, family, and influencers. So why not encourage your audience to create share their own content about your brand?

UGC is the top social media marketing trend. Marketers are quickly learning the benefits of making an investment in their audience and fans. By doing this, they cut costs and time down by allowing influencers and fans to takeover creative power. 45% of marketing professionals, agreed that UGC helps increase key metrics on social media platforms.

We’ve written a blog post about best practices for generating UGC. As a digital promotions company, we specialize in contests and sweepstakes that can help you kickstart content curation. We handle all aspects of these promotions from development to legal and prizing. We’ll give you the tools you need to collect and manage UGC assets submitted by entries.

How Does User Generated Content help?

Customers are creating visuals for brands everyday. It’s important to develop the right promotion or strategy to encouraging your customers to create content about you. UGC has a huge potential to lower the extreme costs many marketers are paying for content. And best of all, it gives your brand a more authentic relationship with your consumers.

People are becoming distrusting and wary of advertising - as of 2017, roughly 615 million devices have an adblocker installed on it. UGC helps cut through the clutter by giving your brand a more human tone, as well as the word-of-mouth that takes place when someone posts or shares about your brand.

The right tone and authenticity has become important for consumers to decide what brands they choose to support. This impact is so great, that most consumers can identify and distinguish consumer-created content versus brand-created content.