Move over video – photography is king

The huge hype over the importance of video has been based on its effectiveness in engaging customers, driving traffic to websites and increasing sales conversion, but how practical is it for businesses?

The key challenge for businesses today is to keep their customers engaged with their brands, which means working social media very hard in addition to keeping their traditional advertising and marketing channels going. The social media explosion has accelerated the rate at which customers consume – and then get bored with – and discard advertiser’s messages. The content churn is enormous. Using video as the primary route to engage customers has a low effectiveness ceiling because of the cost and the time to produce it. Yes, your customers might be watching home-produced content on youtube, but they’ll expect much higher production values from any brand vying for their attention, and this drives up cost and production time significantly.

In contrast, photography is perfect to produce high volumes of cost effective content which, if planned and briefed in cleverly, can generate lots of high quality content for advertising, websites, brochures, and social media campaigns. The lead-times are much shorter and the creative flexibility is huge. Switched on businesses are using their commissioned images in a much smarter way, and because of that are getting great value for money from their photography shoots, without having to water-down their creativity or production standards.

Instagram has created a real boost for the professional photography industry, by reminding consumers about the entertainment value and engagement potential of photography, and by switching the buzz away from video and putting images back in the spotlight. Video should still be part of any brand’s marketing mix, but it is more cumbersome and the cost and time demands that it is carefully considered to make sure it will still create a return on investment.

This change has already started as businesses are coming back to placing a higher regard on photography, thanks to realising the central role that commercial photography has to play in their businesses, simply because of the fact that photography is such a perfect and natural fit with social media, and it has the necessary quick turnaround time. Global Industry Analysts forecast that global commercial photography is expected to be worth some $11 billion in the next few years, and this growth is driven almost exclusively by the demands of social media and the knock on effect it has on traditional advertising activity.

Even more recently, was the prediction of the further demise of the high street retail sector. Despite the Mary Portas initiative, a report last week by the BBC suggested that in the next 5 years, 4 out of 10 high street retail outlets will close their doors, and many of these will move their businesses online, further fuelling the need for more websites with more product photography, that these high street retailers have traditionally not really needed.

Professional photographers are highly creative individuals, adept at working at a fast pace and are a valuable resource of creative ideas that will capture your customer’s imagination. The watchword here is to get the brief right – some upfront planning and collaboration coupled with a well thought through brief will go a long way to turn a commercial photography brief into a tailor-made campaign for our social media driven culture.

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