The Importance of Imagery
For online influencers, brand ambassadors and affiliates of all sizes and calibre, the importance of presenting a unique, cohesive digital portfolio has increased significantly and will continue to do so. Recent studies have shown that portfolios are no longer simply a representation of an individuals’ personal brand, but a key factor in consumers’ decision-making process that can essentially determine their purchasing behaviour.
For example, EasyJet’s ‘Look and Book’ app feature uses image recognition technology to allow customers to screengrab pictures of destinations from social media and book a holiday matching the location
This means that the calibre and aesthetic appeal of the company’s influencers on Instagram etc. could determine which holidays their audiences choose to embark on, which flight products/packages they choose and ultimately how much they spend.
One survey found that over 40% of people under 33 prioritise “Instagrammability” when choosing a holiday destination, suggesting that Instagram is front-of-mind for many holiday-goers and paving the way for a change in consumer behaviour. Therefore, anyone in a digital promotional role in this market is likely to be judged according to the visual portfolio they present on the platform and the worth of their imagery should never be underestimated.
Images are at the core of mordern marketing
In the fashion industry, the biggest influencers earn revenues equal to or greater than the brands they represent through their powerful image collections.
Callum McCahon (strategy director at Born Social media agency) says “The reason a brand uses an influencer is the trusting relationship they have with their followers” and “when done properly this is a very effective method of selling product.”
His statements are supported by research demonstrating that 45% of Instagram users in Britain say they follow fashion accounts to gain inspiration for looks they can create and 84% of millennials are influenced into purchases by user-generated content from strangers who’ve experienced the product
Consequently, curating a portfolio of visual selling materials that’s authentic, but nonetheless aspirational and professional, is a core requirement for anyone hoping to profit from online influencing or affiliate marketing for clothing brands/companies.
A Consumption Revolution in the Digital Age
The reasoning behind this heightened significance of visual online content? It all comes down to the fact that people are spending an ever-growing proportion of their lives scrolling through the likes of Instagram and Pinterest. You only have to take a peek at the Apple ‘Screen Time’ function on IOS (which monitors mobile phone usage attributed to specific apps/utilities) to realise just how much of our conscious thought and time we dedicate to social media.
The number of active monthly social media users worldwide is expected to reach 3.02 billion by 2021 (that’s around a third of Earth’s entire population), so it’s no surprise that these platforms are predicted to overtake traditional marketing tools in terms of business investment.
The physical touchpoints that consumers use to complete purchases are declining in significance and popularity. For example, Thomas Cook has recently announced plans to close 21 stores and attributed this decision to customers increasingly booking their holidays through online transactions (which generated 64% of their revenues in 2018).
Instagram users can now shop directly through the channel and brands are able to tag products in their posts, which instantly lead audiences to a point-of-sale. For consumers, this a more convenient, time-efficient method of shopping for consumers than browsing brick-and-mortar outlets and it means they’re no longer relying on in-store ambience, customer service or location to guide their selection of retailers.
Instead, it’s the portfolio of product photos provided by brands/their representatives on social media that attracts or discourages them from engaging.
Most established businesses now recognise how important this transition in purchase behaviour is for their future marketing and subsequently recruit influencers who can prove they fit the image/culture of their brand through a stand-out online portfolio.
For example, Shaun Stafford – affiliate for Gymshark activewear – claims the brand ‘chooses their athletes carefully; athletes who mirror their ethos and reflect their brand values’ so critically evaluate the visual content they’re producing/publishing before offering sponsorship deals.
What does this mean for Influencers and Brands?
The implications of this phenomenon undoubtedly vary depending on who the influencer is and which brands they’re collaborating with or aiming to enter into partnerships with.
The portfolio of Stephanie Fox (a Newcastle-based travel blogger who has worked with Jet2 and Absolute escapes), for instance, has needed to adapt in a completely different way to Geordie influencer Pixie Tenenbaum(who’s been credited for keeping M&S’s brand fresh and relevant) .
One thing is certain for everyone in the profession – as visual selling becomes more valuable, earning the trust of both consumers and clients becomes absolutely imperative… as does creating an uncompromised personal reputation online.
As someone who has a digital portfolio of any kind, the most effective and reliable way to ensure full credibility and peace of mind is to implement protection against image theft and misuse. As the power of the personal brand intensifies, so does the possibility for intellectual property breaches to ruin an influencer’s career or a brands relationship with its consumers.
Any incidents where parts of a visual selling campaign are taken and placed in the wrong contexts or hands can be detrimental, but luckily it is possible to take action against them.
Advances in artificial intelligence technology have enabled comprehensive scans of the web (including social media networks and blogs) that instantly identify where photographic content has been posted without permission or reproduced unlawfully. This puts influencers back in control of their valuable digital portfolios and keeps companies informed about who is claiming to represent them online at all times.
Protect your portfolio with Veritent
Whether you’re a professional influencer, amateur affiliate marketer, online brand or organisation with a reputation to uphold on the web, Veritent is the solution to all of your IP concerns.
We use our advanced software track how and where your images are being used, providing data insights for strategic, marketing, and legal decisions.
By analysing results for every piece of content you want to investigate and presenting them in a convenient dashboard, Veritent seamlessly integrates into your life or business and offers a range of subscription packages to cater for individual requirements.