Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram signals the official arrival of the image-powered web

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Facebook’s very recent acquisition of Instagram is its most high profile purchase yet.

And before you choke on the price tag (£1billion USD) you need to remember that there was realistically only one other buyer out there – Google.

Now whether you classify Instagram as a social networking site or not, it ranks just after Google+ for global users at approx 33 million.

But its not its size that is important here.

No, its the confirmation of something that smart operators have been aware of for some time now.

That’s right, photos, are the most powerful format of content on the planet.

The official shift to an image-powered web (and why brands must take notice)

To some, this might be old  news, but static imagery (not videos, not text, not audio) is the easiest format of content for people to engage with as it stands today.
Like most developments in the highly-accessible social web, this is plain common sense.
People are swamped with content 24/7, in every single place they look.
The successful consumption of text-based content takes time and an element of peace and quiet.
Video-based content, while powerful, can be time consuming and requires a half-decent wireless connection.
As for audio content, while descriptive, it takes a lot of time to create unless it is a live play-by-play.
But photo-based content is peerless when it comes to effortless engagement.

The photo-based consumption process

Unfortunately, I can’t explain this via photos (text-based content still has a huge role to play, but not like we’re used to).

The best way to illustrate this is not to focus on the money Facebook have just spent, but the popularity of image-shaped online destinations like Pinterest.

You don’t have to be a wordsmith anymore to be part of the social-web movement (but we knew that, hello Twitter) all you need is a phone with a camera.

Again, I’m not saying anything ground-breaking here, but take a look at your marketing and communications activities.

Did you just get sign off for a company blog?

Forget writing 750 word posts, only a handful of people will read them.

Forget issuing 10 paragraph press releases, only the headline will be plastered all over Twitter.

Instead, think imagery first.

Not necessarily your own, but the library of shots your customers and stakeholders are taking on your behalf every single day.

Or, ideally, put yourself in the shoes of the person you are trying to communicate with an ask yourself ‘which way do you like to consume your content’?

And while it might not seem natural to replace a bunch of words with an image and succinct caption, remember you are not the person you are trying to reach.

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