While the world was in lockdown in 2020, digital experiences rich with images and videos kept us connected. We relied more heavily than ever before on more traditional methods of digital communication and adopted new and innovative ways to share our lives and connect from a safe distance. From Zoom to TikTok and Snapchat, we relied on digital forms of connection for school, work, entertainment, shopping, and just keeping in touch with loved ones. In the end, the power of visual content had new meaning.
No matter how the post-pandemic world evolves, consumers will continue to crave visual content across every facet of life.
The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the digitization of customer interactions by several years.McKinsey
To meet these new realities in a way that leads to business results, brands should focus on three aspects of visual content to build better connections with their audience.
- Shine a Light on Microbrowsers and Small Screen Engagement
Did you know that messaging apps have overtaken social media platforms in the number of active monthly users by 20%? With so many users on private messaging apps, brands now have an opportunity to reach consumers through microbrowsers, or those little mini mobile previews served up by the URL that is being shared in those messaging apps.
To reach consumers in those mobile moments, it’s important for brands to identify which microbrowsers are popular among a customer base and in a given industry. In Cloudinary’s 2021 State of Visual Media report, we found that the top messaging platform brands favor is iMessage – it holds the number-one position globally and across sectors.
WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Slack are among the other popular platforms described as dark social channels, which describes the seemingly invisible shares brands can’t see when peers share links or content. These small-screen engagement opportunities can make a big impact on the number of clicks and further engagement, something brands today can’t afford to miss out on.
Brands can prepare their images and videos for microbrowsers by addressing the unique needs of specific dark-social channels. Each microbrowser will unfurl the link preview differently, so brands should optimize and tailor these images and videos accordingly to attract link clicks. With visuals optimized, brands can make a good first impression when links are shared amongst family, friends, and colleagues.
- Share Compelling Stories With Video, Video and More Video
Video traffic grew significantly during the pandemic, providing a gateway to a world outside our locked-down realities.
From January 2019 and through the pandemic, video requests doubled from 6.8% to 12.79%. Video bandwidth grew by more than 140% in Q2 2020 alone.Cloudinary 2021 State of Visual Media
With the continued rise in video, it’s no wonder that brands are managing and transforming more video content than ever before to reach consumers. This powerful storytelling medium can be used in several ways, including:
- Shoppable videos – For e-Commerce brands, shoppable videos can bring products to life, and then link shoppers to the relevant product pages where they can make an in-the-moment purchase.
- 3D videos – Brands can generate 360-degree animated images or video from a 3D model to create a modern and responsive shopping experience on each product detail page.
- User interface videos – Videos can also be delivered in unexpected and creative ways, such as on an online platform for consumers that showcases things like recipe ideas or decorating tips, helping create a seamless brand experience.
To integrate these videos, marketing teams and the developers who support them transform video assets 17 times on average. This is a very complex and time-consuming process that requires developers to manage video codecs at scale. In order to save hundreds of hours of development time and reassign that time to more innovative efforts, brands can rely on AI to make the process quick and seamless.
- Enhance Mobile Responsiveness
Mobile responsiveness is a must, especially when mobile accounts for approximately half of web traffic worldwide. For brands, this means ensuring images and videos are responsive and optimized for mobile devices. Those not using responsive design for their visual assets are losing an opportunity to boost SEO rankings. Google’s Core Web Vitals are all about the user experience, and prioritizing mobile responsiveness will ensure a brand’s website is easily found in search rankings.
Again, this is not an easy task when delivering images and videos to different platforms every single day. Multiply that by different viewing windows, orientations, and devices, and it can be an extremely overwhelming task. To ensure that everything is optimized for a mobile-first world, brands can apply automated responsive design to deliver the same, high-quality user experience, regardless of screen or device. With automation, brands can drive greater efficiency in the workflow and significantly improve the ranking and experience on mobile.
Build Better Connections With the Power of Visual-First Engagement
From the pandemic, we learned that in uncertain times, brands need to understand how to connect and engage with their target audience. Microbrowsers, videos, and mobile websites will continue to shape how consumers perceive and interact with their favorite brands. Automation and AI will be necessary to deliver these experiences at scale.
With visuals at the center of this new world of digital engagement, brands can implement these best practices into their overall strategy and raise the bar on visual-first experiences.