The most cost-effective and undervalued campaign element

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Everyone knows that "content is king." So it's a no-brainer that good content is the key to launching a successful marketing campaign. Very often however, brands tend to automatically associate the word "content" with "video," treating static images as the red-headed stepchildren of their A/V household. They couldn't be more wrong. While certain products such as television shows or movies lend themselves towards video-centric campaigns, other marketers can benefit from and differentiate themselves by launching image-centric campaigns.

As the recent proliferation of photo editing and photo-centric social networks shows, photo-based user engagement should be explored as a trend and treated as a potential marketing opportunity.

Why use it?
There are multiple signs pointing to the growing importance of photos as assets in marketing campaigns. First, photos have become a social currency: Users leverage them on an ongoing basis to engage with their friends. According to research from March 2011, Facebook hosts 60 billion photos, Photobucket has eight billion, Picasa seven billion, and Flickr five billion. Secondly, app developers and Silicon Valley investors, noting the success of Instagram and Facebook Photos, have invested in the development of their competitors. This has resulted recently in a surge of photo-centric platforms. In the last 12 months alone, platforms such as Color (photo sharing network, which received $41 million in first stage funding), or Mobli (photo-sharing and editing network which subscribers spend on average 33 minutes using the app and upload 3.4 pictures per user, per day) have made headlines.

In addition, there are several interest-based social networks that center the user experience around photo sharing. Foodspotting, the social network for foodies, allows its users to upload photos of meals they are having at different locations, while Dailybooth asks users to upload photos of themselves every day to create a stop-motion chronicle of their lives. This enables them to have a conversation with their friends through photos. It is critical to note that established social platforms, such as Twitter or Foursquare, have also worked diligently to add the photo upload and sharing capacities to their functionality.

Having said that, I will now go through a few photo-centric campaigns to prove that images can be, and have been, successfully used in marketing efforts. The aim of these case studies is to show that the power of images lies not only within the message that they can convey but also in their multi-platform usability. As a result, they can be both the center points of campaigns located on only one platform, as well as constitute the connective tissue for cross-platform integrations.  



Melanie Schabauer
Melanie Schabauer October 4, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Hi Joanna,

Thank you for this great article! Marketers often tend to forget about the power of an image! And even better, when we use a user-centered design process to improve, enrich and optimize our creative!

Tony Wood
Tony Wood September 29, 2011 at 2:05 AM

I won't disagree that compelling content is important. I do question content being "king". Quality content won't automatically get traction. Visual content isn't guaranteed a long shelf life. I urge everyone to look beyond content. As adoption of communication technologies continue to increase - stories become more and more abundant.