What is visual literacy? Think images. We’re surrounded by them online. Instagram. Snapchat. Infographics. OH MY!

If you’re studying consumer behavior like any good marketer (HECK, business person!) should be, you’ve started to notice the shift.

First it was text. Then blogs. Then, in rapid pace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat … and emojis are EVERYWHERE!

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Images Are Hugely Effective

We’re now communicating through pictures. Images are communicative.

They’re also immediate.

We process pictures 60,000 times faster than text, and our visual vocabulary is growing at an incredible pace.

Visual Literacy Challenges

As we communicate with fewer and fewer words, how can brands keep up? While you might think SEO (search engine optimization) is key, it’s also changing.

While the internet has historical been set up to find things with words, it is now being recalibrated to search for words AND images.

So how do you become relevant with images?

Key questions:

  1. Do my photos speak visually?
  2. What are my photos “saying”?
  3. Am I visually listening to the photos of my community/audience/industry/competitors?
  4. What are people “saying” with their photos?

And this doesn’t just pertain to what you’re creating. Think about the photos you’re curating as well.

Are those memes really representing your brand? Or are they perpetuating crap?

Things we can miss or lose with images:

  • Context
  • Sentiment
  • Nuance of tone/meaning

Data Mining With Photos & Images

The great thing about photos and images is that people get very specific.

It’s no longer about the shoe store, but the specific pair of shoes you’re coveting from the shoe store … right down to the color, style, and feeling they entice from you.

Take mega brands Target and Nordstrom, for instance. They’re taking social cues from sites like Facebook, Instagram and Vine and physically changing their store layouts and windows based on what the consumer is telling them.

That’s visual literacy.

“Listening” to the consumer photos has enabled them to align their brand with what the masses want RIGHT NOW. It’s the Oreo of fashion brands. It’s real-time marketing.

How should you mine data from photos?

  • Consider the consumer mindset
  • Watch the generational gap; millennials expect brands to be more interactive
  • Be authentic with it; don’t just grab user photos to throw up in your next ad (Urban Outfitters is a great example of how to do this)
  • Consider an influencer marketing campaign
  • Create a system for feedback; allow consumers to talk with you and guide your efforts

TEXT IS NOT DEAD. 300x300 The Low Down On Visual Literacy

Text Is Not Dead

People still want text. While I believe photos are becoming more and more important to marketers, I don’t think we’re going to ever throw out text with the bathwater.

Your best bet?

Combining text and images. But don’t get too post happy with those memes (gag!).

What’s Your Take?

Do you consider yourself or your brand have/understand visual literacy? Let me know in the comment section below!

See you in the social sphere!