(by Francis Groves, Senior Analyst)
Visual Media seems to have grown exponentially in the last few years. Instagram and Pinterest only date back to 2010 and 2011 respectively but as far back as June 2013 Pinterest has had second place - after Facebook - as a driver of traffic on the Internet.
The power of images is often that they tell a story and, as advertisers have known a long time, pictures undoubtedly have a power to pull people’s attention. And people can process images very rapidly. For social media this has meant that all social media presences are becoming increasingly visual. Just think how rapidly images have crossed into LinkedIn and, especially, Twitter. And Facebook is now one of the Internet’s largest stores of images. Not only have images become ubiquitous in social media, the presences that specialize in images are highly effective. Buying rates (the proportion of buyers to visitors) are significantly higher for Pinterest than Facebook, as is the willingness of Pinterest visitors to affirm they are positively engaged by brands through Pins.
So where does this leave the banking industry with its somewhat abstract products and services? Visual social media guru, Donna Moritz, lists four especially effective uses that images can be put to in social media: handy tips, how to advice, catchy quotes and checklists and a fifth, infographics, which is also effective but not in Moritz’s top 4. So, the secret of successful images could, it seems, be summed up in a word, ‘Advice’. But of these 5 tactics, banks - and then only a few of them - really only seem to be good at infographics. In the finance industry, if you want advice, you go to a YouTube channel or the blog page on the website because we all know that financial advice is complicated; it takes time to explain it and
So it seems as if banks are not yet quite getting the point of visual social media. No, you can’t say very much at a time through a picture or a graphic but the little you do say could have immense pulling power and visual social media sites like Pinterest could be used to advertise a bank’s services and expertise more directly than is currently the case. In short, banks should use their visual social media as hooks to draw people in to what they have to offer. They seem to ‘get’ this on Facebook and Twitter but not on their visual social media presences.
Congratulations to those banks that are leading the way in visual social media. Maybe now is the time to make these presences more than just pleasant places to visit for a few minutes (Pinterest visits were averaging 16 minutes in 2013) and to make them speak more directly about your service, your expertise and your messages. The good news is that some banks have a lot of original graphical material both already on social media and in their archives and the capacity to create even more. Only 20% of Pinterest content is original (as opposed to shared) so there should be plenty of scope for an institution that can use its visual image ‘capital’ effectively.
(Stay posted for our new report on Social Media in Banking which will be published later this November)