The Inevitable Convergence of Social Media, Commerce, and Visual Content

You walk through the supermarket aisle until you face various choices for the product you wish to eat. In the case of cereals, it can be 20 or more different options. You reach out and pick one, which you feel is the right decision based on a well-educated process. In fact, when you make that […]

The Inevitable Convergence of Social Media, Commerce, and Visual Content

You walk through the supermarket aisle until you face various choices for the product you wish to eat. In the case of cereals, it can be 20 or more different options. You reach out and pick one, which you feel is the right decision based on a well-educated process.

In fact, when you make that decision, you are executing on thousands of messages received during most of your entire lifetime—each one with the sole purpose of influencing that decision. In commerce, that purchasing act is called the second moment of truth. The moment when millions of dollars of marketing (at least for cereal companies) is converted into a purchase decision.

The second moment of truth.

Traditionally, the two have been geographically and historically separated. You receive marketing messages at breakfast while reading your daily digest on your phone, and you will be buying in the late afternoon.

Ecommerce, for most of its brief existence, has followed the same schema. Advertising here, shopping there. But not anymore. Everything is converging to one all-encompassing moment of truth at one place and one time, with visual content at its core. The customer journey is now reduced to an instant and one visual.

There are three main steps in a customer journey:

  1. The awareness of the product
  2. The consideration of the product
  3. The purchase of the product

Up to now, they all happened at different places and over time. Now, it’s all converging at one place and time and all within one visual content.

Nowhere can this be experienced more than on social media since we spent most of our time. All platform owe their success and operate with visual content as their core interface. Stage one was to use those visuals to capture audiences. Stage 2 two was to transform those views into advertising; stage three adds a “buy” button: Discovery, conversion, purchase, now all in one image or video.

Instagram displays an ad every 3 to 4 posts and uses retargeting profusely. Each ad contains multiple visuals introducing a product you have shown interest in and leading to a shop now button. That one image or video contains the whole customer journey.

A familiar view: an ad on Instagram

The numbers confirm the story: 81% of people out of over 1 billion use Instagram every month to help research products and services. With an average conversion rate of 1.85 percent, that’s 14 million clicks on a “buy” button of an image every month.

Identical scenario for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Snap. Photography has a new role, one much harder to master. It has to introduce, convince, and sell all within one frame. It has to capitalize on the instant attention span. With video, it’s an identical challenge, all within the maximum of 60 seconds granted by most social media platforms. For brands, the bar is making the brutal journey feel seamless, which is why they rely on influencers’ expertise. They have mastered converting content into captive audiences and come with built-in trust. All that is needed is the “buy” button.

The product now comes to you, fully packaged with all the information you might need to make a purchase decision, including the cash register. Everything is transformed into an impulse buy, one carefully vetted via retargeting by your shown interest. All compressed in one frame or 60-second video, right next to those party pix of last night shared by you BFF.

Shop and share. The lines are blurred. Your friends, brands, product, purchase, parties are all part of the same flow. Click Like here, click buy there; who is that at my front door? A delivery or a friend? The beginning and end of your buyer journey are all in here, in one frame.


About the author: Paul Melcher is a photography and technology entrepreneur based in New York, and the founder of Kaptur, a news magazine about the visual tech space. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his writings on his blog, Thoughts of a Bohemian. Melcher offers his services as a consultant as well. This article was also published here.


Image credits: Stock photos licensed from Depositphotos

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Gorgeous Photos of Socotra, The ‘Most Alien-Looking Place on Earth’

Located east of the Horn of Africa, Socotra was famously described by English anthropologist George Wynn Brereton Huntingford in 1980 as “the most alien-looking place on Earth.” Photographer Daniel Kordan visited the island and captured the otherworldly beauty of the landscapes, from the dragon blood trees to the white sand dunes. Socotra is the largest […]

Gorgeous Photos of Socotra, The ‘Most Alien-Looking Place on Earth’

Located east of the Horn of Africa, Socotra was famously described by English anthropologist George Wynn Brereton Huntingford in 1980 as “the most alien-looking place on Earth.” Photographer Daniel Kordan visited the island and captured the otherworldly beauty of the landscapes, from the dragon blood trees to the white sand dunes.

Socotra is the largest of the remote Socotra islands in the Arabian Sea. They’re found 238 miles (380km) south of mainland Yemen (which the islands belong to) and 50 miles (80km) east of Africa. As with other remote islands on our planet, Socotra is known for being a cradle of biodiversity, boasting many unique animals and plants. 37% of the plants, 90% of the reptiles, and 95% of the land snails on Socotra are not found anywhere else on Earth.

Reuters calls the island the “jewel of biodiversity in Arabian Sea,” and the island was officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

One of Kordan’s favorite things to photograph on Socotra is the Dracaena cinnabari, popularly known as the dragon blood tree, which is known for its densely arranged branches, umbrella-like shape, and red sap (hence the name).

“According to legend, the first dragon blood tree was created from the blood of a dragon who was wounded in a battle with an elephant,” Kordan .

“The unusual shape of the dragon’s blood tree is an adaptation for survival in arid conditions with low amounts of soil, such as in mountaintops,” Wikipedia states. “The large, packed crown provides shade and reduces evaporation. This shade also aids in the survival of seedlings growing beneath the adult tree, explaining why the trees tend to grow closer together.”

Another gorgeous feature of Socotra is the white sand, which is piled into beautiful rolling dunes along the turquoise sea and in the desert within the island.

If you are interested in visiting Socotra yourself for a photography adventure, your best bet may be to arrange the trip through a local travel agency, which should be able to help you obtain a Yemeni visa. Visiting at the present time is not advised, though — the US government currently has a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for the nation due to “due to COVID-19, terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnapping, armed conflict, and landmines.”

You can find more of Kordan’s work on his website and Instagram.


P.S. In case you missed it earlier this year, be sure to check out Kordan’s magical photographs of fireflies in Japan.


Image credits: Photographs by Daniel Kordan and used with permission

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