The Power of an Image

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Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in Text 100′s Digital Download earlier this week. Want to be the first to receive more great digital ideas like this in your inbox each week? Subscribe to our newsletter today – we promise never to spam you!

In today’s digital world, where text is a commodity, visuals are necessary to make sure your content stands out from the clutter. From a PR perspective we recognize the importance of choosing the “right” picture when deciding what should be published because it’s likely to be recognized by potential users when making a purchase.

Through the years we’ve seen how different image platforms have joined the market and with huge success. I’m talking about places such as Flickr, Picasa but also Facebook, Twitter or more recently Instagram or LightBox. What’s the main difference between all of them? Basically, two things: the time to market moment and the kind of users. Flickr was geared more toward the professional photographer set, while Picasa is a family-friendly platform to build your digital holiday photo book. And then with the Facebook and Twitter explosion, million of users around the globe felt the need to share pictures from their own experiences any time.

Instagram and LightBox have been the image’s transition to the mobile world and both have leveraged the impressive smartphone growth over the last couple of years. In fact, according to IDC Worldwide Digital Image 2011–2014 Forecast: The Image Capture and Share Bible, 700 billion digital images will be captured in 2012, with nearly 30% of them being captured by mobile devices (that’s more than 200 billion images). These figures give us a clear idea of the power of images in our day to day.

And now, what’s next? Taking into account what we’ve mentioned already and trends this year, Pinterest and Fancy are the new players in this arena. Since we initially talked about Pinterest, this social bookmarking site has experienced a continuous growth with a very simple proposition: let users share pictures and videos with each other.

If you are not familiar with Pinterest, the quick summary is that once a user finds a picture or video that interests him or her, they can “pin it” to a pinboard on his or her account. Pinned items are public and most link directly to the site from which they were pinned, which is why many retailers are seeing exponential increases in their web traffic from this site. Many pinned items can be shared on Facebook and Twitter also, increasing the likelihood of viewership.

From the brand perspective, this is a powerful marketing tool, especially for ecommerce. How many times are we as PR professionals asked for lifestyle pictures of our clients’ products or for technical pictures to better sell the product together with the press release?

And at this moment Fancy comes to us. Fancy is a truly competitor for Pinterest but with an added value for business. Fancy calls itself “part store, blog, magazine and wish list.” As with Pinterest, the user can find products through pictures and share them, but with a slight difference: Fancy is specifically oriented to the e-commerce space, offering a great platform to merchants with easy access to millions of users around the globe. They also facilitate the direct purchase through a “Buy it” button that links directly back to the ecommerce site. Why? Because most of the items posted in Fancy come from e-retailers so adding this button drives sales very easily.

The second point of interest is that Fancy allows users to purchase products directly on Fancy’s website – a feature that will encourage merchants to be more loyal with the platform. The minimum requirement is that merchants need to be fancied prior the shipment. So if a merchant browses for their products and they see some of their products have been fancied by users, they can directly contact Fancy to sell the products through them. Just click the “I want to sell it” link and retailers will be directed to a registration page to offer the products.

The most interesting thing here is the changing business model for ecommerce because of sites like this. Traditionally, merchants would offer the product description and price on their own site, leaving it somewhat up to the user to find it. But with sites like The Fancy, merchants can be more proactive – they can look for user preferences and offer their products that way.

If you manage a retail brand, do you plan to get on The Fancy?