Top Visual Marketing Trends

By Becca Peterson

Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr… the list goes on and on. What catches your eye when on these social media platforms? Is it the text? Or is it the images, gifs and videos that make you stop and pay attention? It’s essential to make personal connections with your target audience by taking advantage the latest visual trends on social media platforms.

Although there are many visual trends on social media being used in marketing campaigns, there are a few that are making a splash in 2017:

Snapchat and Instagram Stories

Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories allow users to document their lives with photos, videos and boomerangs. This is also known as ephemeral or disappearing content because posts are available for only 24 hours, then disappear. Marketers often use these stories to post authentic and unscripted material that can further establish their brand and make their content more personal.

Examples include interviews, behind-the-scenes action, highlights or giveaways. This type of content helps a brand to become more humanized, and draws users to follow the content because they find it interesting and relatable.

According to Non-Profit Quarterly, Charity:Water often utilizes Snapchat Stories to make the organizations seem more approachable. The non-profit even shared photos of staff members dressed up on Halloween, which makes the organization appear more real and light-hearted.


Geofilters are a type of augmented reality because they allow users on Snapchat to decorate their screen with graphics. Geofilters are appearing on other social media platforms as well, such as Instagram and Facebook. Geofilters often depend on location, making it easy for local companies to market to people in their area. This also makes marketing more personal to the users, as they receive Geofilters that represent locations they are close to.


Target used Geofilters in a marketing campaign called “25 Days of Snapchat Filters,” which was described as an “in-store Advent Calendar” that lasted from December 1–25. It not only encouraged customers to go to their local Target stores in order to see what the next geofilter would be, but it also allowed Target to gain publicity through guests sharing selfies with friends.

Influencer Marketing

According to, influencers are people who have a large presence on social media sites and therefore have a significant influence on their followers. People trust recommendations from their friends over advertisements, so the use of influencers in marketing is becoming almost necessary. Influencers are very present on platforms like YouTube, Instagram and blogging sites, gaining popular on other platforms as they win attention. Companies will often sponsor these individuals to post on their behalf and endorse the company’s products to their followers.

For example, American Express worked with top Instagram influencers in order to promote their new Platinum card. On November 9, 2014, American Express gave six top Instagram users access to their account as a part of their #MyAmex campaign. These users already had a strong base of followers, so when they took over the American Express account, the users generated 23 percent more engagement than previous posts. They also doubled American Express’s average number of daily followers for two weeks, and generated more than 10 million impressions and 40,000 engagements (source:

Live Video Marketing

Live videos, especially on Facebook, are becoming huge for social media users. Every time a user begins a live video, all of their friends are notified about it. This draws a lot of attention to these videos, which is essential for marketing.

Dunkin’ Donuts used the popularity of live-stream videos to their advantage on Valentine’s Day, showing their viewers how to create a donut-themed wedding cake. Live videos are another way to make your brand more humanized and realistic, as viewers feel that they are directly interacting with your brand, even though they are not necessarily communicating back.

A children’s bookstore in Staunton, Virginia, called Pufferbellies Toys & Books often uses Facebook Live in order to showcase new products or book orders. Near Easter, Pufferbellies started a live video showcasing new Easter-related products that they had received. They gained more than 2,500 views, and sold out of a lot of the items that were featured in the broadcast (source: Live videos also allow users to share with their friends, which plays into a more influential side of marketing where users are receiving trusted recommendations from friends. Live videos are perfect for posting recipes, how-to-videos, or for showcasing products because they have a lasting impact, because they can be shared and reposted by users.

Personalizing an Instagram Feed

Instagram has become a very popular social media site for targeting to young adults. Some companies present themselves on Instagram as if their brand is a person — also called personalized marketing.

One company excelling at personalized marketing is Lorna Jane Active, an Australian active-wear company. Their Instagram feed mirrors exactly their target audience. They post pictures of women in their 20s and 30s being active, they post recipes that they believe their target audience will enjoy and they post quotes that they know their target audience will relate to. They make it seem as if their ideal customer is running their Instagram. This has become a popular visual trend among companies on Instagram, because it attracts more followers and further establishes their brand image.

As you are planning marketing strategies and looking to establish lasting connections with your target audience, keep these visual trends in mind to maximize your impact online. Remember that people are attracted to visual content, and they only pay attention to what relates to them.

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