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Social Listening is Pointless if You Can’t Track Visuals

Social Listening is Pointless if You Can’t Track Visuals

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In the visual age, social listening platforms need to keep up, says Senior Content Manager, Claire Kane

Social listening is nothing new. It’s something marketers and brand managers have been doing for years, but as social media has changed, so too has the kind of information we need to analyse. We need to ask, however, are the platforms we use for social listening keeping up with these changes?

In a study conducted by our team, in which one million tweets were analyzed, it was discovered that without Visual-AI, you’re missing up to 88% of brand appearances on social media. This is a statistic that raised a lot of eyebrows when we published our report, but this figure should come as no surprise when you look at the bigger picture. Pardon the pun. 

We are living in the visual age. GIFs, videos and images are the dominant formats of communication and self-expression online these days. So, if your social media monitoring platform doesn’t allow you to scan visual elements for your logo and other trademarked imagery, you might want to keep reading!

TikTok - Social listening - Video platform

The visual age of social media

In the early days of social media, it wasn’t overly image-based. Apart from the overhead-angled selfies (hello, fellow scene-kid millennials), the odd photo album and the Bebo Flashbox, it was mostly text-heavy. We had miles long bios, we shared close-to-home lyrics in our statuses and posted long-winded “surveys” for our friends to answer on our MySpace blogs. Even when Twitter first came to the masses, you couldn’t upload images. But that was, brace yourself, 13 years ago. Things have moved on, we now communicate in a much more visual way. Bios are shorter, we react to news with GIFs and we upload billions of photos and videos every day. 

On Instagram alone, 95 million photos are uploaded on a daily basis, and that doesn’t include images and videos uploaded to users’ stories. Ninety-Five Million! If you’re a brand manager and you’re using a social listening tool that doesn’t allow you to analyse images for your logo or other trademarked imagery, well you might be wondering how much you’re missing out on. 

The phenomenon of the 15-second video

It all started with Snapchat’s 15-second videos in the mid-2010s and now they are truly the supreme chief of social media content. With TikTok storming the social media market and accumulating over 500 million users in record time, this quick-fire format of information sharing and creative expression isn’t disappearing in the foreseeable future.

Instagram has successfully imitated both Snapchat and TikTok with their Stories and Reels features respectively. According to 99 Firms, 1.7 billion stories are posted on Instagram every day with 1 in 4 Millenials and Gen-Zers saying they have bought something because they saw it on an Instagram story. This millennial can admit she is among the 1 in 4; I most often buy things I see on people’s Instagram stories that aren’t even being actively promoted. 

As for their recently introduced Reels, while there are no upload stats available yet, popular users and brands are reporting an increase in engagement since using it, and Facebook has confirmed territorial app download increases in Brazil and India since its launch. There’s no denying that it will be just as phenomenal as Stories once users get familiar with it. 

While many companies like Brandwatch, Sprinklr and Talkwalker provide the ability to analyse visual content, a cursory glance around some of the go-to social media monitoring platforms shows that most of them don’t provide insights for videos, gifs or images, instead they simply focus on text analysis. And you consider the phenomenal growth of video platforms and the reduction in text-heavy content, you need to ask, is the platform you’re using for social listening giving you the full picture? 

social listening social statistics on screen

So is monitoring social media without visuals really pointless? 

The Forrester Wave’s report into Social Listening tools is emphatic that tackling visual content will help reduce the user dissatisfaction experienced by many as a result of limited audience data. What this tells me is that, yes, text analysis has its place and is far from pointless, but platforms that only analyse text is leaving users wanting. If the likes of Brandwatch, which was listed as the top industry leader the report, can do it, why can’t they all?

There is no telling what invaluable insights you could be losing out on considering that billions of images and videos are shared online every day, often with minimal or no text at all. You could learn that your customers use your product in a totally different way to how you believe them too or that a celebrity is promoting your brand without meaning to simply by wearing your logo most days. Perhaps you could discover that your brand is being grossly misaligned with a cause it does not wish to represent. That is, there’s no telling until you have the data! 

While visual content looks to continue its dominance, measuring text alone will become increasingly redundant, you could say that it already is. It looks like it’s time for the product managers of social listening and brand monitoring tools to switch things up and deliver what their users need. 

Download our report on Visual Brand Mentions to learn more about what you could be missing without the ability to analyse visual media. 

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