The Blog

Visual vs. Textual Marketing -- Choosing the Right Social Media Platform for Your Business

As the social ecosystem continues to grow and evolve, marketers must think strategically about how they publish their content across networks and devices.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Social Platform Fragmentation

As the social ecosystem continues to grow and evolve, marketers must think strategically about how they publish their content across networks and devices. The social media landscape, as highlighted in Terence Kawaja's social lumascape, has become increasingly fragmented. What works for one business does not work for another and, depending upon your market segment, 'not all social media' rules apply. However, for a large majority of marketers, visual marketing is a break out trend that helps distribute content and turn data into compelling assets.

Are Visuals Your Primary Asset?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest each have their unique strengths, limitations and demographics and content that performs well on one channel doesn't necessarily translate to another. To make the most of marketing resources and optimize engagement, companies need to prioritize the networks that matter most for their business goals and tailor their content accordingly.

According to statistics from marketing expert Heidi Cohen's actionable marketing guide, B2B Publishers who use infographics as their marketing weapon can increase their traffic by 12 percent.

Courtesy of: B2B Infographics

When selecting the social networks that best suit your business, it is important to consider the audience you are engaging and the type of content you are sharing. Using images to interact with customers may seem like a given -- especially when MDG Advertising has found that an average of 94 percent more total views are attracted by content containing compelling images rather than content without images -- but depending on the industry, a deep investment could be a futile exercise. For example, marketers in the hospitality or the travel industry are likely to have an abundance of rich images that tell their story, making Pinterest or Instagram ideal avenues for engagement. Alternatively, if your wheelhouse is in B2B technology services, Facebook is likely the better fit, as the network offers a text-friendly format for more involved information sharing.

If your industry leans heavily on visuals, then devoting more resources to highly visual networks can be a boon for your business. The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, a premier luxury hotel management company, relies on visual content to drive the companies Instagram marketing strategy. To showcase their beautiful properties, breathtaking locales and world-class services, the Four Seasons uses Instagram to offer photo tidbits and sneak peeks of their most desirable vacation spots around the world. The Four Seasons even encourages followers to tag photos with the hashtag #FSFotog, giving fans of the hotel chain the chance to be their own Four Seasons photographer and share their own photos with the company. Given the Four Seasons' stunning properties and exotic locales worldwide, it makes sense for this company's content to be driven by visuals. The Four Seasons' Instagram account has a remarkable 32,000 followers engaging daily.

Instagram is not the only visual network that your brand should experiment with. Just take a look at how neighborhood hardware store, Lowe's, used Pinterest to its advantage. Its Build It! Pinterest board, supports Lowe's image as the home improvement company by showcasing images of do it yourself projects curated from around the web. Lowe's appeals to Pinterest's largely female demographic -- a 68 percent female user base according to research by Modea -- catering to the DIY trend with projects that can be completed with Lowe's products. Lowe's Pinterest board is not only a handy resource for great ideas, but it highlights Lowe's products without being overtly promotional. With more than 3 million followers on Pinterest, Lowe's is definitely using the platform to its advantage.

Are You An Information Powerhouse?

Understanding the strengths of the content at your disposal is crucial for choosing the right network. If you are an enterprise cloud software provider, for example, information-heavy content in the form of text and numbers is likely your best engagement tool. Given the nature of your company -- and, in turn, your follower demographic -- sticking to helpful statistics and informational posts that offer relevant, useful knowledge to your audience can help your brand demonstrate industry expertise. Rather than spreading yourself thin across networks that are not as effective, devote the most time and energy to networks that are prime for text-friendly content, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, rather than Pinterest or Instagram. On both networks, attention-grabbing facts, company information and industry insight work wonders to open a channel of engagement between your brand and its followers.

Gartner, the leading independent research provider, is a good example of a company that understands the power of its information and prioritizes appropriately. While you won't find Gartner on Instagram, the company is very active on Twitter. Twitter's short, snappy headlines are an ideal format for companies looking to spread information and insights in real-time. Gartner has built a following of 183,000 people on this network, and shares snippets of cutting edge research, links to free webinars and links to helpful articles (some branded content, some not). Gartner uses Twitter's text-driven platform to stay true to its core competency: providing valuable information.

Today's information-saturated market has changed the marketing landscape. The idea that "one-size-fits-all" for content across networks couldn't be further from the truth. Marketers need to understand the value of their content so they can make strategic decisions about the content they create and where they publish it.