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Survey confirms Facebook’s clout in online marketing

Facebook is the favourite for visual online marketing among Maltese business and private users, a survey has confirmed.

Facebook is the favourite for visual online marketing among Maltese business and private users, a survey has confirmed.

Facebook is considered the best platform for customer feedback in online marketing in Malta. While very few people buy a product without seeing a picture of it, 20 per cent of marketers admit to lifting pictures from Google for their material, most of the time without seeking permission.

90 per cent of local users have never bought anything online not supported by an image

These are some of the interesting conclusions of a new report on visual marketing by local web development company Icon. The company looked into the local setting, both in terms of how marketers are making use of images on the web to promote their products and services, and how users consume and interact with visual content in the digital space.

The survey found that Facebook is the best platform for customer feedback: 64 per cent of marketers agree that they are more likely to get feedback from Facebook than from the company’s official website. However, some 43 per cent are still not measuring the success of their visual content, not knowing whether their efforts have been deemed fruitful or not.

The vast majority (89 per cent) agree that products with images tend to do better online than those with no images. Coincidentally, those who believe otherwise claim that they are not measuring online success. This emphasis on the need of visual content leads to marketers filching from Google for their promotional material. While 20 per cent admit doing so, 14 per cent confess they do not bother getting the owner’s consent before publishing an image from their site. This research also reveals interesting trends about individual web users in Malta: 90 per cent of local users have never bought anything online that was not supported by an image. Consumers won’t buy online if they do not see an image of the product first.

Women are more likely than men to be influenced by images. Men are more likely to give more importance to the product description. Users do not want to participate in competitions that require them to upload images. Only 17 per cent said that they would consider doing so, depending on the prize offered.

Pinterest is relatively new locally and only nine per cent like it. Similar to the general trend abroad, women are more likely to be hooked to this emerging channel than men are.

“Most respondents said that they do not want to participate in competitions that require them to upload images. This was surprising as we tend to see a lot of such competitions on Facebook, for example,” Icon’s e-marketing specialist Daniela Grech explained.

“They might have worked well a while ago, but this survey indicates that users are no longer willing to participate in such initiatives. Marketers should maybe think of simpler competitions with less hassle from the user’s end.”

In its introduction to the report, Icon says visual marketing has been dubbed as the winning trend for 2012, and rightly so, as online channels like Instagram and Pinterest ushered in such a fashion effectively. When it comes to promoting products, businesses are learning to show, not tell. The rapid increase in the use of smartphones with high-resolution cameras has also changed consumer preferences of images over text. It is the craving for visual content that fuels our desires for beautiful imagery, photography and astounding design.

Images and infographics are being shared with ease online, bringing about a rise in visual storytelling in marketing. So what does this mean for marketers? It definitely shows that businesses need to refocus their approach and make sure that their content stays relevant.

International reports and case studies show how big brands are using visual content and image-based social channels as part of their marketing efforts, yet we know little of the local situation.

This has led the company to do the survey. The full report is available at www.icon.com.mt

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