Marketing 2.0 with Visual Conversations


  • Visual Conversations enable brands to deepen engagement with existing and targeted consumers.
  • Traditional UGC (User Generated Content) Marketing is only the first step to deepening engagement. Brands should leverage UGC activities to build more engaging visual campaigns, “listen” on social media for viral content and opportunities to build brand reputation, and ultimately generate valuable brand/product insights from visual data.

Recent studies of Instagram show how people are 50 times more engaged with a visual brand post on social media versus the same post with text alone. That’s a phenomenal number. But what if you could get your consumers and even would-be consumers to generate image content for you? Consumers that submit UGC to your brand on social media are 300 times more engaged with your brand than those who simply consume your content. And it makes sense right? I care more about the brands who want to hear from, learn from, reward and even showcase me and my lifestyle.

So with this two-way exchange of visuals in mind, here are some tips on how marketers can use visual conversations in marketing.

#1 UGC Marketing

“Show us how you’re having fun with your favorite <Clothing Brand>.”

At the base level, UGC is a genuine content collection mechanism. Marketers expend great effort to purchase, create, or otherwise source good marketing content, like user stories, testimonials and visuals. Have your consumers create content for you. Not only is it cost effective, the content that is generated is more rich, authentic and compelling. Consumers like to see other happy consumers enjoying your product. They are more compelled to purchase and enjoy your products that way. It’s the very reason word-of-mouth is still the top marketing contributor to product success.

#2 Scouring Social Media

Be active about finding product promoters on Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and Twitter. When thinking about promoting content, it makes sense to seek influencers (ie, the folks with the most followers), but when seeking engaging content, you can relax that requirement. Great visual content can come from anyone. And when you are looking to share this content, engage (preferably privately) with the content creator first to ask them if they are open to a social share. A direct one-on-one message from a brand goes a long way. A consumer is instantly more connected to your brand with this approach.

#3 Customer Support Goodwill

While you’re searching social media, you might as well take the time to scour product/service review websites like Yelp and Amazon. Consumers are posting visual complaint content to these locations all the time. Collect this content, remediate consumer issues, and use it as an opportunity to show your goodwill towards customers. Amazing customer support experiences can be solid competitive differentiators. We all know the success of companies like Nordstroms and, for example. Leverage consumer generated visuals to develop this reputation for your brand.

#4 Visual Sweepstakes

“Enter the sweepstakes by submitting a photo of your favorite <TV Show> moment”

Given platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Vine, using photos and videos as a form of communication has become extremely natural for generations of consumers. Your brand can leverage this behavior to turn a simple sweepstakes campaign into a more memorable experience for your consumer. Gathering visuals when running sweepstakes or contests will undoubtedly increase consumer engagement with your brand and help you generate valuable content as well.

#5 Treasure Hunts & Games

“At your nearest convenience store, take a picture of a bottle of cream soda, icee machine, and bag of potato chips. Send us all three to earn your reward and unlock the next level!”

Take the visual sweepstakes a step further by creating a game for your consumers. Think of the highly successful monopoly games that McDonald’s runs. It’s great for the brand, because playing the game promotes purchases, but also, in the case of the more addictive games, it keeps your products and brand top of mind. Brands now have the ability to incorporate the technology that is literally at everyone’s fingertips when devising their next addicting game.

#6 Consumer Insights

“Show us what you consider to be the most effective use of <Personal Care Product>.”

If you stopped at utilizing user-generated visuals with techniques #1 thru 5, you wouldn’t be exhausting their full potential. Amongst the trove of visual data is valuable insight about your consumer’s sentiments and behaviors. Use visual responses to gain insights on your product (ex: are consumers using your products in new, innovative, better, more stylish, or more interesting ways?) and your marketing approach (ex: what should be my marketing message, my target demographics, etc?). Consider the examples of large companies in the past that discovered alternative uses for their products only after running traditional focus groups. Brands can now stay ahead of these trends with visually derived consumer insights. Pictures, after all, are really worth a thousand words – words that can help you make better product and marketing decisions for your business.