Monday, October 5, 2015

Thinking Outside the Social Media Branding Box

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has made the Polaroid-style square photo its trademark. But all that changed on August 27th, when the app announced that their users would no longer be bound to posting only square photos. According to Instagram, one in every five photos posted on the app is a shape other than a square. Looks like the social media giant responded to the demand for more creative freedom by altering its now-familiar format.

This portrait photo was edited using a third-party app to add white space because cropping would ruin it.
Instead of using a third-party app to post a landscape photo of a beach surrounded by white space, you can now choose to either preserve the photo's original orientation or crop it to the traditional Instagram square. The update also allows users to add filters to videos, not just photos. The future is now!

This photo uses Instagram's update to fit a portrait photo into the traditionally square frame.

Much like other social media sites, Instagram has recently gotten a facelift in an attempt to keep ahead of the competition. Last spring, Twitter announced a revamp of their original profile page, which used to include users' tweets in reverse chronological order.
The addition of a Facebook-like "cover photo" allows company Twitter accounts to further promote their brands.

Twitter's update includes a wide landscape photo at the top of each profile, accompanying the user's avatar. The new format clearly adopted from Facebook's Timeline cover photo update as a way to incorporate visuals in a mostly text-based medium. The update was optional at first, but has now been applied to all user profiles.

Since December 2011, Facebook Pages and user profiles have incorporated a cover photo.

So what does this mean for your brand?

Although the ever-changing social media landscape might seem more intimidating with each update, these changes can actually expand your potential for creative branding.  Facebook's (and now Twitter's) addition of the cover photo feature means you have an extra space that functions as a billboard for your company or organization's brand. Whether you want to coordinate your "Page's" profile picture and cover photo is up to you. The potential is limitless: check out these brands' creative Facebook Pages for inspiration.

Instagram's reduced restrictions on photo orientation also mean you can do more with your brand. Photographers can post full-size landscapes and panoramas, retailers can include portraits of models, and Instagram's three- to fifteen-second videos can become grayscale, sepia, you name it. Paying attention to the new tools provided by social media giants allows companies to implement changes early and catch competitors unawares. (But first, remember to read up on the size requirements for Facebook and Twitter's "cover photo" features.) Happy posting!

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