2015: The “Year of Visual Content” (Again)

2015: The "Year of Visual Content" (Again)

As a tech nerd and fashion-forward millennial, I’m always interested in the newest trends and innovations. However, I was a little disappointed last week when I read the latest predictions for marketing trends in 2015. Nothing surprised me. I’m hoping this means that I’m just more of a forward-thinker than I realized or that we’ll see all of the really ingenious ideas later in the year. Until then, I’d like to discuss one of the more popular predictions for 2015: the explosion of visual content.

If you were paying attention in 2014 and even 2013, you’re probably thinking, “Duh, I already knew that.”The rise of content marketing and the increase in campaigns based on user generated content (UGC) have already led to a tremendous growth in visual content. Also, the fastest growing social networks in 2014 were visually-based. Tumblr grew its active users by 120%, while Pinterest increased by 110%. In December, Instagram surpassed Twitter by reaching 300 million active monthly users—up 50% in just the past nine months.

Since we’ve already experienced this shift towards visual content and visual-based networks, a larger question is what further innovations will 2015 hold?

According to social media pro Cynthia Sanchez, consumers will demand higher quality visuals for images, but we’ll see less produced, more spontaneous videos. She argues that new photo and video apps allow marketers to create incredible visuals and short clips on a budget. I’ve experimented with Canva (one of the photo editing apps Sanchez names) and Hyperlapse (an app that allows users to create time-lapse videos) and both apps do indeed produce fairly high quality, sharable content.

While I agree with Sanchez’s predictions, this is by no means a death sentence for professional photographers and videographers or the agencies they work with. If anything, those professionals have the upper hand and could be major innovators once they adapt to these methods of content creation. But responsiveness is key. A Forbes contributor wrote, “Instead of the next month or next quarter, the focal point for the winners becomes the next hour.” We’ve entered the age of real-time marketing and businesses must adapt quickly in order to compete. And adaptation is a part of agency DNA.

Assuming the prevalence of UGC and visual content continues to rise, we can expect to see even more apps that allow users to quickly create high quality images and videos in 2015. While these technological advances reduce the need for huge production budgets, marketers should remember that the real magic in any form of content isn’t in the format or production budget – it’s the creativity, wit and strategy behind it.

Given this newly leveled playing field, 2015 should become a battle of the creative minds, not budgets. And to that we say…BRING IT ON!