A recent study from Simply Measured reveals that more brands are sharing visual content and consumers are engaging with great visuals.

Not every marketing team has internal wordsmiths, photographers or graphic design geniuses. This explains why Brafton found visual and written content are some of the top formats outsourced to external content marketing professionals. It will become even more important for brands to deliver visual content in real-time because the web marketing world is tilting toward eye-catching formats, and a recent Simply Measured study proves consumers pay attention to their custom content.

Around 70 percent of brands are now using Instagram to share digital content and connect with target audiences. The adoption rate has been so rapid that Simply Measured asserts companies’ Instagram use is on par with Pinterest (used by 74 percent of brands) and Google+ (used by 73 percent of brands). Not only are brands sharing pictures on the site, but users are engaging with them.

Simply Measured found brands’ posts received 350 percent more likes and comments this year than last. This comes as a vote of confidence for marketers who may have approached new networks with caution, unsure whether their brand messages would be seen as spammy on sites where commercial opportunities have yet to be tapped.

Brands’ posts received 350 percent more likes and comments on Instagram this year than last.

It’s crucial that companies are careful about the images they share because Instagram have high expectations for pictures that show up in their newsfeeds. More importantly, they aren’t as impressed with marketers’ ability to apply creative filters as they are with the merit of the images themselves. Around 70 percent of the content users liked were filter free, meaning only 30 percent were tweaked to give the images a special effect.

However, companies are wasting their time and resources if they are only producing digital content to share. A key ingredient to social marketing ROI is interaction, which means marketers or strategists must invite followers to participate and acknowledge the results. A recent Pew Internet & American Life Project report found 54 percent of consumers have posted original photos on the web. That’s fresh material to start conversations that can turn into conversions, if marketers are quick on their feet and strategic with their responses.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.