As small and medium-sized businesses gear up for 2024, iStock, a leading e‑commerce platform providing premium content to SMBs, SMEs, creatives, and students everywhere, predicts top data-backed insights from its VisualGPS research to guide and inform businesses on what will drive their customers to action in 2024.

In a world dominated by technological advancements and uncertainties about the future, consumers’ concerns have heightened over the past year. According to iStock’s research, 52% of people express anxiety about the future, with 47% nervous about the world's increasing reliance on technology. Notably, 40% feel overwhelmed by the multitude of available technologies. However, amidst these concerns there is a curiosity with 75% of people excited about the potential of artificial intelligence (AI).

"In an environment marked by AI, image manipulation, deep fakes, information overload and technology saturation, authentic visual storytelling is a crucial pathway for establishing trust between businesses and their consumers in 2024," said Dr. Rebecca Swift, Senior Vice President of Creative for iStock. "Our VisualGPS research indicates that 98% of consumers agree that 'authentic' images and videos are pivotal in establishing trust. This year, businesses should focus on visual storytelling that emphasizes relatability with visual narratives that feel real and true."

To help small and medium-sized businesses, from all industries, inform and guide their visual strategy next year, iStock experts share top marketing trends to watch in 2024:

Build brand trust through authenticityTo create a real connection between your business and your customers, use images and scenarios that feel genuine. Infuse your visuals with humor, show a broader range of facial expressions that may not be posed or “pretty” per se, but that capture a candid moment of irreverence. You can always leverage aesthetics that pass for amateur or that resembles user-generated content (UGC). Avoid luxury and overtly glamorous and instead focus on accessible and relatable. This is especially important for the travel and hospitality industries.

Bring humanization to your visual storytellingVisualGPS indicates 1 in 3 people prefer human interaction over technology, surfacing that amid the AI hype, people not only want, but prefer, human interaction. In 2024, as technology continues to evolve, communicate the idea that tech, especially AI tools, are ultimately in our hands. Do this, by visualizing human presence and control over technology and AI tools in your marketing. Interestingly, nostalgia for early Web 1.0 aesthetics, will continue to be on the rise, and are a great way to convey control and familiarity in the face of the unfamiliar. Remember to use bright tertiary colors such as magenta, teal, lime, violet, and yellow-orange to enhance visual appeal towards the future.

The evolution of search and social commerceThe #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt trend, UGC tutorials, and influencer reviews have propelled platforms like Instagram Shop and TikTok Shop into the spotlight. However, 60% of people expressed distrust in in-app shopping features on social media platforms. Recognizing the paramount importance of building trust online.

Due to its immersive capabilities, video formats emerge as a pivotal tool to tackle consumers’ concerns and showcase what your business can do for your customers. VisualGPS indicates that 62% of people are going to social media for learning or self-education. Leverage the power of video to craft tutorials or "explainers" that captivate and engage viewers, also while full explainer videos can be user-generated, the ideas and feelings surrounding your video can be conveyed through B-Roll clips.

Despite the immense potential within the realm of video content, a mere 11% of SMBs and SMEs are currently using video. In contrast, a staggering 82% are finding inspiration in videos on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. The call to action is clear: Embrace the video revolution!

The rise of TikTok videos has also impacted consumers’ search behaviors, as they use this and other video platforms to find services or products, making video SEO a priority for businesses. Addressing a common SEO myth, iStock's experts underscore that stock images -and videos- do not have a detrimental effect on SEO. In fact, high-quality pre-shot images and videos can significantly contribute to content growth, particularly on platforms like TikTok, Pinterest, and Alphabet. To optimize SEO for videos, it is important to use keywords in video and image titles, descriptions, and social media posts.

The rise of text-to-image AI Incorporating technology into the creative process is another avenue for SMBs and SMEs to explore in 2024. VisualGPS highlights that 42% of businesses are already harnessing AI-generated content. By leveraging commercially safe AI tools and capabilities, businesses can produce innovative and unique visuals, ensuring risk-free and ready-to-use creative content.

To inspire and elevate your visual marketing strategy ahead of 2024 with related imagery and videos, visit https://www.istockphoto.com/. And for more best practices and inspiration, visit iStock’s new blog.

Media contact: Ilse Noguezilse.noguez@gettyimages.com

 

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