With images and video making up more and more of the content posted to social media, brands are finding they have to change how they use visual media in order to keep up.

Here are five ways the increasingly visual nature of social media is affecting brands.

Creativity is more important than time and money

Social media success calls for significant investments of time and money, but with visual content on the rise, brands simply can't expect to stand out if they're not creative.

Creativity comes in different forms. In some cases, brands demonstrate creativity by responding to an event with a timely response to a current event.

In other cases, creativity is demonstrated through the creation of content that is captivating, motivating or humorous. Whatever the case, content needs to engage, and engage quickly, if it's to have an impact.

Photography is changing

Social media is changing the way brands think about photography. As AdWeek's Marty Swant recently detailed, brands aren't just adjusting how they photograph for their social media posts. They're also rethinking how they produce photography for other mediums based on the fact that platforms like Instagram have changed how consumers think about photography.

One of the most profound effects social media has had on photography is that consumers are increasingly turned off by perfection.

As Nathan Iverson, the design director at agency Deutsch LA, explained to Swant, "People will call you out pretty easily if your food looks overly propped or overly perfect because that's not how it is."

15 minutes of fame has been reduced to 15 seconds

If brands are digital storytellers, they are being challenged to tell more with less.

Thanks to platforms like Vine, short-form content has come to be a dominant force on the social web.

While there are still reasons to believe long-form content is far from dead, brands are increasingly having to figure out ways they can convey effective standalone brand messages in a single photograph or 15 second movie clip because long-form content is simply not viable on many of the most popular platforms.

Finding fans requires different tools and new technology

Image and video-based content presents a number of challenges for brands. One of the biggest: finding the fans and potential influencers. This isn't as simple as searching for Twitter users who have posted a tweet with a brand reference.

To address this, some brands are employing image recognition technology, which is used to identify images and videos that incorporate their products.

Image recognition technology is increasingly sophisticated and reliable, but for obvious reasons, there are qualitative elements to this process that add additional costs, both in terms of time and money.

There's a new generation of brand ambassadors

To reach consumers on platforms like Instagram and Vine, brands are increasingly turning to a new generation of young, digital natives who rose to prominence organically on on services like Instagram, YouTube and Vine.

While they might not be as expensive and difficult to work with as Hollywood celebrities or professional athletes, these new age brand ambassadors aren't brand captives either. They are protective of the audiences they've built and most refuse to sell out their audiences.

In many cases, that means brands have to be even more creative about the content they co-create and distribute because they're not getting the billing and placement they'd like in a perfect world.

It's harder to fake being tuned into the Zeitgeist

For brands looking to prove they're cool on social media, the rise in popularity of image and video-based content means it's getting more and more difficult to fake being tuned in to pop culture.

Consumers can quickly look at an image or video and decide whether or not it resonates with their view of the world.

Brands that "get it" can create even more powerful connections with consumers, and those that aren't risk looking out of touch.

Patricio Robles

Published 2 September, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (5)

Camilla Carboni

Camilla Carboni, Founder at Create-The-Dream

Great read Patricio! Awesome, succinct points and I particularly love how you point to the fact that social media is forcing us to be more real and more relatable - something I think is undeniably important in marketing in the 21st century.

over 2 years ago

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Charlene Chinn, Owner at Virtually Social Media Group

Great content and advice. Visual content is more than just a picture. Business and brands are really focused on how to make the best connection with their audience through visual content.

over 2 years ago

Neale Gilhooley

Neale Gilhooley, MD at Evolution Design Ltd

A great example of a stunning use of existing images on Instagram is The Economist (@theeconomist) finding a new audience or surprising the old one (me)

over 2 years ago

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Anna Allore, Marketing manager at PRNews

informative and useful! thanks Patricio!
Agree, visual media rules the whole marketing world! another thing is always to keep up in order to stay afloat.

over 2 years ago

George Clarke

George Clarke, Marketing at CS Solutions

"15 minutes of fame has been reduced to 15 seconds" - This is perfectly Patricio!

People like to see the visuals than reading content. The visuals creates great effect in people's mind. It is something one remembers for a long time.

over 2 years ago

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