Recognizing the importance of content is critical to developing any inbound marketing campaign; recognizing the subtle consumer shift in desire for visual over written content is even more critical. To capitalize on this trend, brands are scrambling to utilize the visual functionalities offered by social networks like Pinterest and Instagram.

Many of you may have heard about the recent study released earlier this month by SimplyMeasured stating that 40% of the Interbrand top100 brands are using Instagram.1 It seems likely that this is a trend that will continue as the technology platform evolves. In a world where consumers are overloaded with written content, visual platforms offer something incredibly unique and addictive.

But why is it that people just can’t get enough of these applications?

Pinterest and Instagram represent a shift in the way people view the Internet. Back in the day, the Internet was purely written content, and there was very little actual design except for the occasional flashing animation. Today, it is fairly common knowledge that people don’t want to have to read as much online; as a result, visual content is proliferating.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Pinterest and Instagram are powerful because they are image oriented. Photos and visual content appeal to human emotions. The appeal is even greater when users are able to contribute their own visual content and share things that inspire, things they desire, and expressions of themselves.

Both Pinterest and Instagram represent ways to curate online collections of individual personalities. Instead of composing a post, you can post an image that says so much more. In a way, these platforms allow people to be more open about who they really are.2

Pinterest in particular is a site that makes everyone an equal opportunity influencer. Facebook and Twitter tend to make followers focus on what you are doing and where you are, but Pinterest lets you share who you are.3

The Joy of Collecting

Both Pinterest and Instagram offer ways for users to collect information. With Pinterest, each user has the ability to create boards for their collections. Instagram allows users to “like” images they can reference later. Just yesterday, Instagram released an update that lets users see images they have geo-tagged in the form of a map. People love to digest information that is concise and easily-accessible.

The Simplicity of Visual Content

At the heart of these platforms is simply the ease with which a person can consume and create visual content. Instagram and Pinterest have tapped successfully into the human desire to be creative. Even the most unskilled of photographers can apply a filter to a photo with Instagram and create something visually appealing. 4 With Pinterest, everyone’s point of view becomes relevant and users gain a sense of importance when others find their images to be engaging.

Visual content is the future of the web. While brands should by no means abandon written content, the impact of images and visuals should certainly be taken into consideration. Whether you decide to use Instagram or Pinterest or both, visual content should certainly be integrated into your inbound marketing strategy.

1Simply Measured, “How Top Brands are Using Instagram-Study”

2Fast Company, “Why Pinterest is so Addictive”

3 Slide Share, “Periscope’s Guide to Pinterest-Instagram for Brands”

4 Resource, “The Rise of the Visual Web”

Graphic courtesy of afroboof via Flickr