For those of us who can remember a time before the digital age, it’s fairly easy to pinpoint social changes brought about by new technologies: Texts now take the place of calls. Screens stand in for faces. Email is favored over water-cooler conversation. Generally speaking, we have become much more visual.
Studies have confirmed these noticeable social shifts. In 2014, the average SAT Critical Reading score was a record-low 497 points (U.S. News and World Report). Our average attention span now registers at a mere eight seconds (BBC). More than 80 percent of college-educated individuals prefer browsing to in-depth reading (The Shallows by Nicholas Carr). Not surprisingly, visual IQ scores are soaring past those of other forms of IQ (BBC), and the fastest-growing social media platforms are visually based (globalwebindex).
So, what does this new visual-driven reality mean for marketing your firm and managing your brand?
For starters, it means that what has worked in the past may not be as effective now—or in the future. Here are some ways you can adapt:
Touchpoints are best defined as points of contact between you and your audience. Studies show that digital touchpoints, meaning those that exist in the digital sphere, are increasing by 20 percent every year, thanks to the rise of digital tools and a younger, more digital-savvy consumer base (McKinsey & Company). In other words, they’ve built it; will you come? Will you take advantage of these additional opportunities to visually engage with your target audience?
To achieve this, you will want to do things like create short videos for distribution, increase your social media participation with visuals, or invest in new photography of your team. Words alone aren’t going to cut it. In fact, people are likely to remember only 20 percent of the text they read if it doesn’t have visuals that go along with it (Visually). At a minimum, consider pairing your written content, such as blog posts and emails, with images that speak to your audience—and your brand.
Increasing visual touchpoints, however, should not be done on a whim. Without consistency across each and every digital channel, you won’t be able to create the kind of impact and engagement you need to clearly convey your story. Consider developing a style guide to dictate how your brand should be communicated, and be diligent about making sure your team adheres to it. Visually telling one story on, say, Instagram and a different one on Pinterest could cause potential clients to feel confused. It takes less than 50 milliseconds to form a first impression (B&T), so why risk it?
With attention spans being short, it’s important to make the most of the time your audience spends with your brand. This is why the quality of images matters. Images should tell your audience that, yes, this firm should be trusted, this firm should be valued, this firm is the one for you. Invest in the time and money necessary to produce high-quality images that accurately (and consistently) represent your brand. You won’t regret it.
This statistic is hard to ignore: video content will account for 79 percent of the Internet traffic by 2018 (Cisco). If you’re not already using video to engage with prospects and talent, consider adding it to your 2017 to-do list. Producing a short video is a fantastic way to bolster engagement with your brand—and your content. According to Moz, posts with videos attract three times more inbound links than those without.
The way we consume information has shifted—there’s no going back. Taking steps, even small ones, to visually engage with your audience can help you keep pace. With the new year approaching, now is an excellent time to set goals that will help you make the necessary changes. As always, we’re here to support you every step of the way.