Transformation of visual content: from “Look at me!” to “Look at this!”

Visual content is booming on Social Media channels. Most updates on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn walls are photo’s, pictures and infographics uploaded from smartphones or shared from the web. Visual content often gets more awareness and provokes more interaction than written content. That is why platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr focus entirely on visuals – and they grow rapidly. What causes the hype about visual content? And why are Pinterest and Tumblr so successful?

03 Importance Visual Content online Social Media HCIBS Transformation of visual content: from Look at me! to Look at this! by How Can I Be Social (HCIBS)Why is visual content important?

There might be two main reasons for the increasing popularity of visual content. The first is: because we can! Since most people are equipped with smartphones and mobile cameras we can take pictures wherever we are and share them immediately. Platforms like Instagram make it easy to transform and edit your snapshots until they are fancy enough to share with your friends.

Second, visual content is easy to grasp. While it takes you some time to read and process a piece of text, visuals take the highway to your brain – you get the message within a second. Besides, when you scan your news feed with half of your mind somewhere else, an appealing visual is more likely to catch your attention than a written update.

The power of pictures

Certainly, the Social Media Giant Facebook knows too well about the power of pictures. Actually, it considered the visuals are so as important that it made the $736-million purchase of Instagram, the main competitor in mobile photo sharing. Now Tumblr and Pinterest offer the perfect platform for sharing visuals, which seems to be especially attractive for teenagers and female, young adults. While the total amount of Facebook users is declining for several months, Pinterest and Tumblr show a tremendous growth curve. How is this possible?

Tired of “Look at me!”

The reason might be that the content favored by users of Tumblr and Pinterest does not match with Facebook’s ecosystem of content. Good facebook updates are pleasant, funny and especially social activities. On facebook we tell our friends where we are right now, what we are doing there and who is with us – but it is me, who is in the centre of the pictures.

Facebook photos are bound to a certain time, location and activity and contain at least one name tag. Many users love this way of self-presentation. For others, this looks like a fragmented broadcast about the random and absolutely irrelevant activities of some acquaintance.

Interested in “Look at this!”

When you come to Pinterest and Tumblr you will see and feel the visual difference immediately. These visuals are often timeless, they show ‘things’ more often than ‘people’ and they express a certain ‘feeling’ rather than showing an ‘activity’. In these networks nobody cares about who you are, where your are and what you are doing.

Instead, we can focus completely on the content. We can share stuff that we like and it will be shared by others, who like it too. You most often don’t know the people you are following on Pinterest and you will probably never meet them. But it doesn’t matter, because this is not about you or them. It is about the stuff you both like.

What will the future of content production hold for us?

Social networks are not even 10 years old yet but they are evolving more rapidly than any other communicative device before. The visual content that appears on the networks can tell a lot about attitude and mentality of the users, which is valuable information when you design your own online presence. Therefore we will dedicate more blogposts on how to use visual content on social networks for design processes.

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