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3 Reasons Why You Need to Learn About Visual Listening – And Fast

Social Media Listening, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Strategy

3 Reasons Why You Need to Learn About Visual Listening – And Fast

Marketers understand the importance of social listening — mining thousands or millions of conversions taking place every day — which impacts the health of their brand. And they understand how important the role of social analytics is for understanding share-of-voice, defining key influencers, and improving the way they market and engage with audiences by location. However, something big is missing here, and it has to do with the fact that, to date, marketers have only listened to text conversations.

We live in a visual world where smartphone cameras are ubiquitous and the popularity of image-based networks like Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine are growing exponentially. Consumers are discussing brands online and those conversations are not limited to text. Since nearly 2 billion images are shared via social media every day, don’t you think it’s important to be able to analyze visual brand mentions? Do marketers really have the full picture?

The next big thing in marketing is visual listening, and here are three reasons why marketers cannot afford to ignore it:

Visual sharing and storytelling: Marketers do it, and so do their customers

There is a huge sense of urgency around deploying photo analytics. Marketers must take into account image sharing and how consumers tell, share, and retain visual stories about brands. After all, the human brain retains 80 percent of images, and only 20 percent of text — think of all you’re missing. And according to a blog post in May from Susan Etlinger — an industry analyst with Altimeter Group who focuses on social media analytics, listening, and measurement strategies — “You’re going to need to figure this out sooner rather than later, because GIFs, video, spherical video (coming from Facebook), augmented reality, and virtual reality are here, and they’re going to be a lot more complex from an analytical point of view.”

If you can’t see it, how can you measure it?

You can’t act if you can’t measure. Visual listening allows marketers to identify and analyze images (like logos and even partial logos) posted on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and other image-based social networks, and provides an understanding of how and when people interact with your brand visually. Being able to track visual impressions versus engagement by social platform and location vis-à-vis the competition is crucial.

I found the image above on Flickr. At first glance, this looks like an image promoting spiced ham. There’s also a Tabasco company logo in it. But after analyzing the text and visual conversation, you get a completely different picture. This image was shared on Flickr as a humorous way to start a discussion about email spam, phishing, and search spam. This is just one example of how measuring text or visual listening, independently of each other, can quickly lead a marketer down the wrong path, providing inaccurate sentiment and ineffective social listening.

If you can’t measure, how can you engage?

Visual listening opens up a world of image-centric conversation, all previously “unseen,” and, with it, a world of possibilities for engaging audiences more accurately and efficiently. Added to text-based social listening, photo analytics helps marketers see “the full picture” by better understanding people’s brand affinity and sentiment around image sharing, to more effectively engage with new and existing brand followers. Marketers can identify visual trends, analyze patterns of behavior, and segment or group audiences for personalized campaign outreach and engagement.

Once again, marketers find themselves evolving to accommodate how customers choose to interact with them. With the explosion of image sharing, the powerful influence of sentiment, and an ever-increasing variety of social tools to support visual sharing, marketers need to first identify visual mentions, then analyze them in the context of text conversations, and finally, take action on them in order to effectively capture the tens of thousands or millions of conversations that take place every day about a brand, visually.

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