There’s no mistaking the dominance of visual content on the internet. From social media networks like Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, Periscope and Pinterest, to previously text-focused feeds upping their imagery game (e.g. Twitter’s story cards, Facebook’s new ‘livestream’), it’s clear that we’re in the midst of the content revolution of the ‘Visual Web’.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and it comes as no surprise that visual content is becoming the universal language of the internet. Visual content is more engaging: Posts with images and videos receive 94% more page visits and engagement than others and are 40% more likely to be shared on social media. In Mary Meeker’s annual 2014 Internet Trends report, an estimated two-thirds of the content on digital and social networks is created and consumed by everyday Joes and Janes. As evidenced in the chart below, the majority of that content is photographic:

photo sharing chart

That is 1.8 BILLION photos that users are uploading and sharing every day. This then lends insight to how we consume information: the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text, and our 24/7 use of smartphones and tablets means we’re more connected than ever before to an endless stream of content and information.

So as a brand or marketer, how do you stand out amidst the noise? Aside from the pure volume of photos to contend with, if you pay attention to how you scroll through email, articles, and your social media feeds, you’ll likely find that you’re a skimmer. That’s right, your attention span is dwindling – to the rate of 8.25 seconds (less than a goldfish!). That explains why the Statistic Brain Research Institute has estimated that as of 2015, only 28% of words are read on the average web page.

Your knee-jerk response to this information might be to pay your way above the fray by purchasing a bunch of ad space for your brand’s social media accounts, guaranteeing your feed visibility and post engagement. That is, until you consider this: $23.6B will be spent on social media by the end of 2015, but $22B of that spend will be lost to ad blockers. In fact, the number of people using ad blockers is growing twice as fast as social spend. The last thing you should be thinking about is spending more resources on paid placement.

But here also lies immense opportunity: The chart above shows that people are sharing photos at rapidly increasing rates – to the tune of 1.8 Billion posts daily. What is your brand’s share of voice? A more effective strategy is to start applying user-generated content to your favor.

Much like the viral growth of visual content, influence marketing is taking over the digital advertising world. While we know that user-generated content (UGC) is 50% more trusted than other types of media, the greatest gains on the Visual Web can be made by brands who harness the power of their existing influential everyday customers to share content about their brand.

Known as micro-influencers, these consumers are influential around a specific topic or interest with 500 – 5,000 followers (on average). When identified and engaged to share brand content, the results speak for themselves: for every 1,000 micro-influencers engaged, we see 3,000 friends activated and 200% return on influence. Beyond ROI, the power of micro-influencers positions brands to be far less impacted by constantly changing algorithms, less dependent on paid channels and more subject to exponential content growth.

We’ve found that content can be branded and still be powerful as long as it’s perceived as authentic and human. This means fewer generic product ads and more relatable, engaging visuals – and UGC is one of the best ways to go about this.  A post from someone you know is far more impactful than an ad from a brand. That said, we know that a brand’s authenticity stems from its ability to adopt its consumers’ stories as part of their own narrative. When your content is visually appealing and human-focused, you’re maximizing your brand’s potential for influence. The examples below are a combination UGC and brand promoted content, and demonstrate that oftentimes, a personal anecdote is more engaging than product placement.




Tom’s of Maine:



To learn more about how our platform can help your brand engage its micro-influencers to post user-generated content and drive more sales on social, request a demo here.