While primarily known for shoes, Toms Shoes wanted people to see they could wear the brand from head to toe.
For this year’s back-to-school season, the brand launched the #Toms Give Back to School Contest aimed at increasing
engagement on Pinterest.
They encouraged people to create a pinboard and pin their favorite outfits using only items found on the TOMS website. To compete for the $500 Toms gift
certificate, pinners created a special board for the contest and tagged every pin with “#TOMS Give Back to School Contest.”
Toms scored huge brand awareness and sales
during the contest as pinners posted beautiful pictures that spread across their personal networks. The campaign shows the expanding influence of visual social media sites, and in the coming years, more brands will take part in this growing trend.
Why visual social media wins
Pinterest has more than
70 million users, which may not seem like a lot compared to the billions at Facebook, but, unlike users of other social media sites, Pinterest users become
over time, not less.
This makes sense when you think about the draw of pictures.
The Internet is overloaded with text, with every company in the world creating text-heavy blog posts. With so much to read, people are looking for simpler
media to consume. Pictures are processed more quickly and remembered longer. They can also
tell your brand’s story
more effectively than 1,000-word blog posts. Hence: A picture is worth more than 1,000 words.
When it comes to social media, posts with images get
more engagement than other posts. And, in some inexplicable way, it’s been proven that users
will not only remember your picture, they’ll also associate your brand with similar pictures in a different context.
That’s reach you could never get with words alone.
How do you make like Pinterest and take advantage of the benefits of visual?
Like all other content, visual sites such as Instagram and Pinterest require strategic thinking and a well-executed plan. One of the worst things
brands can do is throw up mediocre images, hoping to draw attention.
Here are some important steps for brands to take when crafting a visual social media strategy:
1. Define your brand visually. Don’t just think about your products. What colors, patterns, and images represent who you are as a brand? Make sure the images you use tell a story of
either the brand or the user.
2. Think broadly about your visuals. Not every pin or Instagram photo has to be (or should be) focused on your brand.
Capital One and American Express both maintain pinboards for brides, world travelers, and bucket-list creators. These images are inherently shareable,
regardless of a user’s affiliation with the companies, which makes it easier for the brands to spread organically.
3. Use segmentation to your advantage. Segment your audience by demographics, interests, and values. Each of these categories can provide insight into the types of visuals your audience
prefers and where it likes to see them.
For example, users who are into beauty might also follow certain celebrities that you can incorporate into your campaign. Users who are "green" might
appreciate holistic health advice or eco-friendly gift ideas. Use segmentation to branch out and go broad, as mentioned above.
4. Pay attention to top content for your audience. Through content tracking, you can also discover what kind of content your audience is sharing and publishing most, and then create visuals around that
Infographics are a great option here, putting information into an easy-to-understand yet visually appealing format.
5. Know your grassroots influencers. Also called brand ambassadors, these are the people who are naturally spreading the word about your brand. Target these influencers by creating more of the content and visuals they love, but also by engaging with them personally.
These people are the ones who
will convince less enthusiastic users to love your brand, so make sure you love them.
The rise of Pinterest and Instagram is undeniable, and more brands are beginning to realize the power of images in marketing. Winning brands will be the
ones that create the best and most
compelling visual social media
strategies that engage all kinds of users.
Carol Scott is the director of marketing at Mattr, a platform that helps marketers discover what appeals to
their audiences. A version of this article originally appeared on Spin Sucks.