As our own CEO Kelly Mooney wrote a few weeks ago, the rise of the visual web is upon us. Both Instagram and Pinterest have quickly built massive followings around platforms uniquely tailored to sharing and experiencing images. Despite Facebook’s status as the largest photo repository online, participation in the creation of those images has been largely relegated to other players, positioning Facebook as a network of pipes dependent on outside sources for water.
Instagram has been one of the key pipelines pouring content into the News Feed and it seems only natural that Facebook’s attention would turn to encouraging and optimizing the content that generates the ad opportunities the platform relies on. Somewhere in Facebook HQ, a formula exists that correlates an increase in views and time spent on the News Feed with the amount of content pushed through that view. Every incremental click or minute spent by consumers creates additional ad opportunities to feed Facebook’s revenue targets that will only escalate post-IPO.
Though reaction to Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of photo sharing app Instagram has been mixed, the move—a move that seems to have been a rogue Mark Zuckerberg execution without Facebook board approval—is one that further cements the founder’s belief that content is the engine that will propel that platform forward. Look no further than the recent rollout of Timeline view for additional evidence that Facebook views the future through a lens of content.
For brands, the acquisition of Instagram and the shift to Timeline view for Pages underscores the critical need for a social content strategy that not only ensures images and video are fed into Facebook but more importantly integrates those needs into broader marketing initiatives, ensuring that social content is planned for at the onset of a program rather than cobbled together from video scraps and images deemed too weak for print placements.
The demands of the social consumer are profoundly different from the needs of the broadcast television consumer or the fashion magazine consumer. Different touchpoints require different content approaches and social is no different. If planned for, those needs can be met efficiently and without recreating the creative wheel, needs that a brand’s competitors are likely already working against.