In the digital marketing space content is currently on everybody’s lips and has become the key to the success of any digital marketer. The challenge faced by the industry is therefore JUST how to create compelling content to genuinely engage their audiences. Nowadays, everyone is a content creator from your neighbour’s 15 year old daughter who tweets every 10 minutes about Justin Bieber to mummy bloggers who passionately share the latest baby products with their peers.
We have seen numerous blog posts on how to create great content inspiring us with content idea suggestions such as running polls, competitions, Slideshare, running guest blog posts, adding video, interviewing a person of authority – the list is endless! I recently came across a tech start-up called ThingLink who have developed a tool that is truly in the position to change how your readers engage with images and pictures. The invention allows you to transform a static image into a truly unique navigational surface allowing readers to explore media rich and relevant content within images – improving the user’s experience and knowledge dramatically.
We’ve all heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” something I highly agree with. Luckily, ThingLink has interpreted that idea pretty literally. The image engagement tool allows bloggers, publishers and brands to add clickable tags to any image to share links, drive traffic and further set-up image based advertising campaigns. The format allows creators to tell a deeper story by embedding various types of content including audio files, text descriptions and videos. So how can you transform a static picture into a navigational surface? If your reader hovers over your tagged image contextual information (according to your tags) will appear. Icons pop up and allow readers to immediately click on them – opening up YouTube channels, home pages, Pinterest profiles or anything else you’d normally be able to link to the old-fashioned way. See for yourself with country artist Jay Colins tweet. I believe it’s fair to say that this definitely has a big impact on the overall user experience – at the end of the day aren’t we all thriving to improve our customer’s experience?
If you’re a content publisher the image tagging tool can currently be enabled on the following platforms: Typepad sites, Drupal, Blogger and WordPress. Once you’ve created a ThingLink account you have to add a small snippet code to your site giving ThingLink the authority to tag. Adding the required code is a copy-paste exercise whilst adding tags is a straight forward point- click and type process. Then you are pretty much ready to let your images talk for themselves by tagging them with people, places, videos, music, products and social media – can images get any stickier?
So how might a business use this tool? The enormous advantage for businesses is that the viewer can immediately click through and is directly at the point of sale. Additionally ThingLink has partnered up with Twitter to allow users to add interactive images. The ability to include direct points of contact for any online destination solely on Twitter itself has big potential for marketers and brands.
The other day I had a conversation with a colleague who’s a rugby player and suddenly it occurred to me how a rugby team could use this tool. Imagine you’re part of a rugby team – it’s common to share photos on Twitter – but think of the potential of a rich, stunning image from your last game featuring a link to a box score of that game and another link pointing to YouTube for the top plays. This would brighten up any rugby fan’s day! However, now imagine what would happen if you’d further add links to your Facebook, Pinterest and other social networking sites – a great point of engagement, isn’t it? The icing of the cake though would be to include a link to the team’s merchandise store as well as to their box office. Can you see what just happened here? One single image actually became an entire platform on its own.
I think we can further see the value it holds for e-commerce sites allowing them to provide far more in-depth details on products and directing visitors directly to the point of sale. Since the images are interactive the changes applied to them are dynamic. So if you’d need to change a product’s price for instance – all you have to do is to adjust it at the source of information and it will automatically flow through everywhere the picture has been shared. Brands that already experimented with the tool include Elle Magazine.
We digital marketers are a suspicious breed and tend to place great emphasis on ROI to see whether a campaign had an impact or not. We always need metrics in place to measure our efforts. Even with its basic and free account users are able to drive Analytics reports telling them exactly how many visitors have hovered over an image, which parts are most popular and when people are looking at the their site. Paying customers are further provided with engagement metrics.
I truly think that content creators will find far more business opportunities than just to tell stories with this innovative image tagging tool. Interestingly though, the ever growing photo sharing and tagging market has only been slowly evolving over the last few years. Even though venture capitalists are continuing to invest in this space these technologies have not yet become widely adopted by brands and consumers – your chance to truly provide your target audience with a fresh breath of air! I believe that we as content creators should embrace any help to make our content just that extra special and the interactive, media rich photo sharing tool is a great way to improve visitor engagement on any website as well as being a great way to truly let e-commerce websites shine.