What happens when hundreds of millions of social media-loving consumers have easy access to broadband-connected smartphones with cameras that have finally come of age? They spend a lot of time on their smartphones, they take a lots of great of pictures, they upload them to the Internet, and they view other people’s photos on their smartphones.
They share these images in as many places as they possibly can, across multiple social networks, because they know that their friends and family are using a variety of social sites – they are certainly not just on Facebook anymore. Flickr just invested what was no doubt a very large sum overhauling their entire website and mobile apps in order to make Flickr more social media friendly – they know it is do or die.
Instagram alone now has over 100 million users. If you use Facebook, there is a good chance that your newsfeed is flooded with pictures that look just a little bit different – those have a filter applied and were most likely taken with Instagram, although it could have been with Facebook Camera and now even Twitter.
Consumers are crazy about images. They are flocking to Pinterest and Instagram in droves, and it is scaring the pants off of established social media giants like Facebook and twitter who know they will have to make their sites more image-centric if they want to retain their user base.
Facebook has responded by simply purchasing Instagram, although it is not clear how this has benefited Facebook since Facebook users continue to migrate to Instagram, which currently generates no ad revenue. Facebook also made a knock off app that never quite caught on. All of this has lead some to question just exactly what Facebook stands for.
Twitter, which had previously owned social media on mobile devices, is in an even bigger tizzy about the whole thing and it is starting to show – they have been allowing and disallowing Instagram integration, and just this week they changed course again and went with the “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em approach”: they added their own image filters. Whether or not this will go over well with consumers remains to be seen.
With all the fuss around images, it is more clear than ever that dealerships need to get on board and build a presence on Instagram, Pinterest and now Flickr, in addition to Facebook, twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn – dealers who do not have an Images Strategy that includes popular social networks, and image optimization on all relevant review sites, risk falling by the wayside and may have an increasingly difficult time reaching consumers, especially the coveted Gen Y consumers who will buy and service more vehicles over the long term.