It’s no doubt that the online world today is a highly visual habitat.

In fact, the search giant Google demonstrated this only a few years ago when they tested over 40 different shades of blue within their logo and measured how consumers reacted. As it turns out, the purplish blue shade that we see today has reportedly earned the company an extra $200 million.

Furthermore, consumers generate and share over 3.2 billion photos daily on various social platforms, while other studies prove that visual content has significantly higher engagement rates.  

However, all this image sharing has come at a cost to marketers as roughly 80% of visual posts fail to contain text or hashtags that can be easily transferred into actionable data and marketing intelligence. This can be a missed opportunity for marketing professionals and advertising agencies to communicate with their audiences. You’ve probably heard that a picture can tell 1000 words and more often than not, images shared on social media can reveal consumer behaviours, lifestyle, opinions, wants and needs, therefore allowing for strategic marketing decisions to be made. However, until recently, the process to uncover these insights was lengthy and mundane. Advancements in image recognition technology have transformed social media marketing for both retailers and their consumers, allowing for deeper consumer insights, brand tracking, improved customer service and frictionless buying.

Consumer insights

Studies show that visual content is approximately 40 times more likely to be shared in comparison to text-based content. With images rapidly replacing text thanks to the rise social media platforms such as Instagram, it is essential that brands and their marketing teams look to visual cues to gain a comprehensive understanding of their potential and existing customers.

Image recognition and visual intelligence have great benefit for marketing teams to uncover consumer insights and drive specific behaviours. Visual intelligence refers to discovering patterns by analysing visuals and the elements incorporated in them (such as objects, products, logos, people, context, background, colours and) in order to understand the factors that may contribute to consumer engagement. Such an analysis can therefore provide insights that can be transformed into relevant communication messages and enhanced consumer experiences.

For example, if you’re Coca-Cola it would be helpful to know that images of your product are often accompanied by other visual elements such as sporting events. This insight can then go on to inform promotional content, sponsorship opportunities, product development, creative, messages, in-store placements and more, that truly resonate with your consumers.

Brand tracking

Image recognition technology can also have a great benefit on brand tracking. In fact, such tools have the capability to scour the net and social media platforms to locate a broad range of images that contain brand logos and associations. Facebook is one of many companies that have been working on such technology that can be trained to pinpoint images of a brands logo, products and related objects. It is inevitable that as this technology progresses, the potential it will have on market research will be immense.

Being able to track brand-related images can help with the unpredictable conversations around your brand, find appropriate social influencers, determine whether event sponsorship or product placement investments were viable and even discover counterfeit and fraudulent logos that have reportedly cost EU brands over $28 billion in lost profits.  

Social customer service

Image recognition and visual intelligence can also have a great impact to improve customer service via social media. For example, it is not uncommon for consumers to post their positive and negative brand experiences and products on their social accounts and it is no surprise that word of mouth and peer influence can have a profound effect on businesses.

For example, imagine a customer has ordered a pair of new shoes that arrived at their doorstep late, damaged or was the incorrect item. A photo expressing disappointment and dissatisfaction could easily appear online and potentially not include hashtags or text that would make the image easy to locate. In such a situation, it can be difficult to rectify the issue in a timely manner further exacerbating the customer’s frustration and potential negative connotations. However, with image recognition, logo detection is made possible and the brand can maintain exceptional customer service and demonstrate a more positive brand experience.

Frictionless buying and in-app purchases

Image recognition technology also has the potential to simplify the buying process for customers. Instagram is already experimenting with allowing brands to tag their products in images, making it simple for consumers to go directly to the product page to purchase with a simple tap. 

As the technology around image recognition advances and as augmented reality becomes more common in consumers every day lives, predictions also suggest that the two technologies will merge, allowing consumers to shop instantly. For example, Pokémon Go became a huge phenomenon in 2016 with its augmented reality capabilities, but imagine watching a coveted runway show on your smartphone device that has the ability to instantly recognise the products and allows you to interact with it and purchase it.

Billions of images and videos are posted to social media accounts every single day and such visual cues can be a goldmine for marketers. Due to advancements in image recognition technology, brands are able to uncover consumer insights like never before, track and monitor their brands on social media at an unprecedented pace and stay vigilant to provide exceptional customer service and brand experiences. As image recognition strengthens, so too will its capabilities, with in-app buying already on the radar further cementing the technology as a fundamental component of a social media marketing strategy going forward.

At RGC Digital Marketing, we offer a range of digital marketing and social media marketing services in Sydney. Our team utilises a range of social media tactics to connect consumers to brands. To find out more, please contact Richard on (02) 8883 2988 or email