Over 350 million Facebook ‘stickers’ – illustrations or animations of characters – are shared everyday on the platform, signalling a new way of communicating that brands have yet to harness, according to Facebook VP EMEA Nicola Mendelsohn.
Speaking at the Guardian Changing Media Summit, Mendelsohn said the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than words and this has seen an increasing number of users develop a “succinct visual language” to sustain pace in an increasingly busy world.
“Think of this as the next generation of ‘LOL’, where images replace words,” she said.
This shift has been intensified by the likes of Apple. Last year it released its largest ever device, a move Mendelsohn said was directly linked to “our insatiable appetite for bigger and better content”.
"The iPhone 6 is the phone Apple said it would never make but here was such a demand for it that Apple has recorded the biggest quarterly profit in American business. When I think about the phone and the communication that’s enabling, it’s visual…,” she explained.
“Digital images serve to reinforce a sense of community and shared identity among the people who send them.”
While brands are beginning to look at how they interact with this community through platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, Mendelsohn revealed one of Facebook’s most successful campaigns was for Universal’s release of Despicable Me 2.
They partnered to release a promotional sticker pack featuring images of well-known characters, among them an image of a ‘minion’.
“Today we’ve seen over 2bn shares of Despicable Me stickers. That’s 2bn instances of people using a brand image to express a feeling. That’s an incredible development in a short time,” she revealed.
Her comments came as Facebook begins trials of a Messenger app payment system where by users simply tap the '$' symbol.