In an era where content marketing is becoming more prevalent, visuals are playing a bigger role in great online marketing than ever before. When it comes to digital, it is important to fully understand how visual content can help businesses get sales. I listened to some of the top marketers in the country at last week's (November 5th) Visual Revolution Summit to better understand how a business can most effectively use visual assets to drive brand exposure and revenue online.

Influencers & Superfans: A New Class of Celebrities

To begin, experts from Conde Naste (Teen Vogue), PlayStation, and Klout presented on the importance of influencers and superfans when promoting their brand. Celebrity endorsements are quite common in the industry today, and users pay little attention to products that are celebrity endorsed, expecting that they were paid to promote the product. Brands are increasingly reaching out to influencers in their industry and working with them to promote and try out new products, outfits, looks, or trials of their brand to get their audience to adopt their products. Influencers have a strong and real following in which they can post themselves wearing or using a specific product (and give their actual insight on it), and their followers are very likely to trust the legitimacy of the advertisement.

Playstation at Visual Revolution

Many beauty and gaming influencers are young, and while this is a concern to big brands like PlayStation and Teen Vogue, as long as the brand expectations are made clear to the influencer, the large majority of businesses have not run into any serious problems. The experts in the panel expect to see a stronger shift towards the role of influencers when it comes to product endorsements moving forward.

Video, Vidi, Vici

Following lunch, the next panel came on for the "Video, Vidi, Vici" portion of the summit. Experts from BBDO, NBC News, Roku, Expedia, and The Atlantic sat in a panel and answered questions about the importance of video and telling a story to your audience. Vic Walia, the Senior Director of Marketing at Expedia, stole the show with his presentation on Expedia's latest campaign in which they approached people on the street, asked them where their dream place to visit would be, and told them that they could go if they left immediately. Most people did not take this seriously and made up excuses why they couldn't go, but one man who wanted to visit China jumped on the opportunity. Expedia's video campaign followed him as he rushed to pack, grabbed a cab, and headed on his journey, all expenses paid by Expedia. They went through the highlights of his trip, and were able to use this man's once in a lifetime experience for marketing content in the campaign at a low cost to them. The video triggered included great emotional triggers for audiences, and is a great start to a campaign that will strengthen trust and awareness for the Expedia brand.

Social Merchandising: Future of Commerce

Next, experts from BI Intelligence, Nine West, 11 Main, and RJK Project came on stage for a panel discussion on of the future of commerce. While all experts answered questions, Milton Pappas, President of E-Commerce at Nine West, stole the attention of the audience when he highlighted the latest rebranding of the Nine West brand, complete with actual user photos on the site of influencers and actual shoppers wearing each product. This gives shoppers a realistic look into what the product will look like in everyday life, and once again highlights the importance of influencers and superfans in the industry.

3 Ways to Win the Moment

For the last presentation, I had the pleasure of listening to Stacy Minero, Head of Planning at Twitter. She outlined ways that brands can jump into a conversation in real-time on Twitter by searching hashtags and relevant keywords, and stressed how important it can be for a business. Twitter users (and the audience outside social media) will see that a brand is a real person behind a desk or a group of people in an office, and is very likely to engage with your company when they realize that a real individual is speaking to the audience through the brand's social profile.

Purina Henry the Dog

A great example that she used was when a Twitter user posted a photo of their dog watching squirrels through the window of her home, and Purina, a pet food brand, reached out to her with a response and engaging image that gave the dog, "Henry," a super-hero role in her home. The user loved it, and it eventually turned into a campaign for the brand. This outreach came from no specific branded hashtag or mention, and she stressed the importance of brands being active on social platform so that they can get involved in conversations that are relevant to them, and ultimately "win the moment". What examples of visuals have moved you to purchase a product or service from a business? Let me know in the comments section below.