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Social media is a land of shortcuts – limited characters, abbreviated, coded languages like “netspeak,” 20-second looping videos, and all manner of images. Are your social analytics tools capable of image recognition? Here’s why they have to be.

Images are everywhere

What’s the quickest way to convey an emotion without words? An image – and oftentimes, it’s a more effective means of getting your point across than words could ever be. On social media, there are several ways images factor into the equation: GIFs, memes, photos, and even emojis all offer visual punctuation of social text, and sometimes entirely replace it!

For that last reason alone, the ability to analyze images is crucial to understanding what consumers are talking about. If your social listening tools only recognize text, what happens when there isn’t any? In short, you’re missing a lot if you discount images on social. Here’s a taste of how much:

GIFsGiphy’s 100 million users send 1 billion GIFs daily. The Giphy library is connected to Facebook Messenger, Slack, Twitter and Tinder to name a few – and that’s just one source for these animated images.

MemesAccording to Fortune, the search term “memes” officially surpassed “Jesus” as the most popular search term in August 2016. And it’s not like people have slowed down in using them since. Here’s a look at the past 90 days:

screencap of Google Trends page

You’ve got to know what people are meme-ing about and why.

Photos – Photos almost seem basic compared to the many ways social users share visually, but they’re still a hot commodity – with entire social platforms devoted to them.  (Hi, Instagram!) Here are some staggering image stats to consider:

Emojis60 million emojis are used on Facebook alone – daily. Another 5 billion are used in Facebook Messenger.

That’s a lot of data you don’t want to miss – but if your tools are text-centric, you might. Many times users share a GIF, or meme, or emoji – and that’s the entire post! So you’ve got to be able to analyze images – and sentiment as well, to provide context. And to ensure accuracy – which is everything.

Lovers and haters

Image recognition matters when identifying influencers and troublemakers as well.

What if your brand is never mentioned in text, but shown in an image? If your tools can’t recognize your logo in an image, how will you know about your biggest fans? It shows a lot of love to post a selfie wearing your brand’s logo on a t-shirt, for example.

On the flip side, what’s the most dangerous social predator there is? The one you don’t know about. Image recognition matters for logo misappropriation as well. If you’re only monitoring text, you might have an image go viral right under your nose. And once it reaches that level, it’s too late.

But it’s not just about brand health – it’s about communication with your audience. Communication on social media is increasingly visual, and you have to be part of the conversation.

What image “language” does your audience love? What content are they wild about? You need to know and offer that back to them. Visual listening and analysis is the only way to do that.

If this sounds like an overwhelming task, or just another “new” thing to add to your arsenal of tools, take heart. There are platforms that include visual listening and image recognition as part of greater offerings – so you can manage all social analytics (and more) in one place. We hope you’ll choose ours.

Want a custom demo of our visual listening tools? Get in touch!

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