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6a00d8341bfa9853ef015436f10aca970c-800wiVisual storytelling is the hottest marketing trend right now, and social media platforms are bending over backwards to incorporate new features that support image-driven marketing. Facebook has steadily been making images more central to its user experience over the last couple of years, and the fast adoption of Instagram, Pinterest, Vine and other visually-rich sites by brands shows just how important they are becoming in social media marketing strategies.

Three recent announcements are pushing image-driven storytelling to new heights – so let’s take a look at how social media visual marketing will be evolving over the next few months.

1.    Flipboard’s new curated brand catalogues

Brands that are using Pinterest to drive traffic to their websites might like to take a look at virtual publication-creation site Flipboard’s latest announcement. Flipboard has already found a strong following among brands who are pulling together content into their own curated online magazines, but Flipboard’s new features include the ability to take this one step further and create a catalogue of products and listings. Retailers will also be interested in a new “flip.it” bookmarklet that can be added to ecommerce sites to help users flip products directly onto their own curated magazine, allowing users to create themed catalogues that link back to the sites where readers can find the products directly.

This will be of interest to brands, publications and organizations with an interest in lifestyle, hobbies, fashion, events or style: imagine the potential of ‘Holiday gifts’, ‘Wedding style’, ‘Gifts for pets’, or any number of catalogues that could be curated around similar themes.

It’s more important than ever before for brands to invest in good-quality images of their products and make it easy for customers to share them across social media.

2.    Pinterest’s place pins

Stylish image-sharing site Pinterest has been adding new feature after new feature this year. Their earlier announcement of their partnership with certain brands to bring extra information in the form of product pins confirmed their interest in driving ecommerce. Now, Pinterest has announced a new place pins feature, which allows users to create a board around a map location, or else add a map to a specific pin.

The new place pins feature adds a new dimension to Pinterest’s value to retailers: the site already drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. Restaurants, boutiques, hotels, tourism sites and any business with a specific location will want to enhance their presence on Pinterest to make the most of this new feature.

Pinterest has also recently announced that they will be launching a ‘now-trending’ feature that can be incorporated into websites to show what products are hot right now. Now is the time to add the ‘Pin-it’ button to your website and showcase your brand – your products, your style, your story and your world – on Pinterest.

3.    Twitter’s custom timelines and new visual look

Twitter is moving towards greater customization with the introduction of custom timelines – the ability to create your own timeline around an event or news item that can be shared or embedded in a website. The micro-blogging site is also becoming more visual with their recent move towards showing preview windows for images and Vines that show up in your main feed. The new features are great news for brands who want to use visuals to engage followers in new ways. Take Spotify’s clever use of asking questions using the preview window, inviting followers to click to find out more.

spot

Preview window.

preview

Expanded view.

The image is created to make the most of the preview window: rather than present a distorted partial image, the brand have used it as a teaser to make fans want to find out more. The result is highly interactive and engaging. (From econsultancy.com)

If you are running an event or want to participate in a live discussion, you can create and share your customer timeline from TweetDeck. You curate it by picking the Tweets you want to add, so it can be just a round-up of the expert views rather than everyone’s opinions. You can enhance the story by picking the Tweets with the best visuals too, and create a mix of the best words and images to share publically.

twitter

Twitter’s Music Vines feed.

If you’re not yet using visuals to tell your brand’s story, interact with fans and curate your own online publications, now is the time to think how you can present your brand visually. You can show so many more sides to your business and encourage interaction with followers, engaging them and increasing brand loyalty and awareness.

Originally posted in Fast Company

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