SXSW Panel Coverage: ‘Visual Conversation: Being at The Center of Social’ Media


From the 72 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute to the 160,000 photos uploaded to DeviantArt each day, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that visuals (videos, images, gifs) are driving mass amounts of consumer engagement and providing a platform for storytelling like never before. These issues brought a panel moderated by author Mark Borden, and comprised of GE Head of Digital Marketing Katrina Craigwell, Digitas VP of Brand Content Eric Korsh, Getty Images VP of Business Development Peter Orlowsky, and DeviantArt VP of Global Advertising Sales Daniel Bornstein together at SXSW for an in-depth panel discussion titled “Visual Conversation: Being at The Center of Social.”

Unilaterally, everyone agreed that in today’s world a catchy tagline isn’t enough:”With image-driven networks like Tumblr and Instagram taking center stage, collaborative storytelling is more important than ever. In order to leverage your brand, product or campaign across all channels, you need strong visual content.” The panel focused on two overarching themes: how to create quality work for brands, and the challenges of monetization of visuals in digital and social media.


To kick things off, moderator Borden asked the group how they identify what is worth creating on behalf of brands, to which Eric Korsh of Digitas replied: “You have to ask yourself, ‘Is that something that I would share as a consumer?’ In that process make sure that you challenge yourself and your clients, that if this is something we are doing or are we just checking the box in that ‘content area’ for today. Furthermore, “You need to approach social content different from traditional ads. And you can equate this social content to fruit flies, in that their lifespan is so short. You need to use it, move fast, learn quickly, move on and apply those learnings to the next project.”

Katrina of GE chimed in on the importance of keeping the consumer in mind, pointing out that they recognize that in social media you’re competing with all content, not just your direct competition. As a result, they focus on creating great content with the goal of social distribution.

In discussing the challenges of monetization, DeviantArt and Getty Images had some very innovative things happening on their respective platforms. Getty Images has rolled out a variety of tools which empower people by giving them credit for their work and make sure every content creator can monetize. To accomplish this, Orlowksy shared insight into the unique Getty technology, stating: “We’ve got a great solution which allows us to see which images have been shared across platforms. Using fingerprinting service to track how images are shared and where they go allows for the ability to license images on the fly.”


On the DeviantArt side, Bornstein shared how the site has become a discovery engine for artists, empowering them to elevate their profile and giving them great exposure and opportunities they may not otherwise have. For example, a piece on the site (“Sweet Halloween Dreams” by Begemott) recently generated a ton of online buzz, and The Rock saw it and approached New Line to create a movie around the image, which is now in the works.

Overall, it’s clear that today’s landscape has challenged marketers, creators and media properties to come up with new and innovative ways to distribute and monetize the content.