Marketing & PR

How to capture consumer insights with visual listening


Most social media platforms have become image-first or even video-first in recent years. Why? Our world is accelerating faster than ever, causing people's attention to shift to a variety of topics. After all, the human brain is incapable of processing such a large amount of data and devotes fewer resources to each piece of information. Meanwhile, because images don't take long to analyze, people prefer to post more pictures recently rather than write long posts. Besides, photographs sometimes better describe a situation than words do. That's why brands should combine visual listening with more traditional social intelligence.

Elena Teselko

Elena Teselko

Content Manager

24 December 2021

What is visual listening?

How can you listen to something visual? This term is derived from social media listening, but it refers to the collection and analysis of visual brand mentions. In a nutshell, visual analytics is typically included as part of a sophisticated social media intelligence tool rather than as a standalone application. So, how can brands and agencies take advantage of this feature?

Collect and analyze both text and visual mentions

The amount of visual content is increasing all the time, so brands need to leverage this type of content in order to stay updated on their consumers' preferences and behaviors. 

Powered by logo recognition, such tools as YouScan can detect in-photo mentions that don't contain an active @tag or hashtag. Meaning, marketers can collect way more mentions when monitoring both images and text mentions. According to DOMO, around 65K images are shared on Instagram in one minute only. Just imagine how many mentions a brand can miss without monitoring images. 

Why is it important? As mentioned above, images often tell more than text in terms of consumption situation, combining products with others, image setting, or even the fact that some products are captured more than others. All this data can be analyzed and turned into future marketing campaigns, messaging, or overall strategy. 

Hence, collecting brand mentions is only a first step, while analyzing them is the main task for marketers. But what does it mean to analyze? Don't worry; you don't need to scroll through all the images to see the whole picture. YouScan's Visual Insights provide users with insightful analytics. For example, the tool categorizes all images by objects, people, scenes, and activities, allowing you to see which categories frequently appear on images or drive more engagement.

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Detect possible product combinations 

One of the possible use cases of visual listening is to discover both the most common use cases and non-obvious patterns. Some of the groundbreaking insights can be later used to create appealing marketing campaigns or even serve as inspiration for new products or product combinations. Why spend time and resources brainstorming new ideas when customers willingly share them on social media? Just remember the TikTok trend when Starbucks baristas posted their favorite coffee recipes, which quickly went viral among the brand's customers?

McDonald's, for its part, might have introduced a new, possibly limited-edition drink based on social media trends. By the way, there are a plethora of such ideas on social media, particularly on TikTok.

For example, the viral drink "Korean iced coffee," which began on TikTok, may be a great addition to a limited summer menu. It's basically a combination of a large black iced coffee from McDonald's and a vanilla ice cream cone, resulting in a moderately sweet drink but not very creamy.

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Discover unusual consumption situations on images

Apart from that, marketers can also monitor how customers use their products at home or which products frequently pair with them. Monitoring visual references of Oreo cookies, for example, reveals that people like adding them to various desserts such as cakes, pastries, or sweet hot drinks. Surprisingly, consumers rarely tag Oreo or mention it in the post because their cookies are so well-known that they don't need to be mentioned.

Moreover, Oreo is used as both a decoration and an ingredient. Some people separate the cookies from the interior cream and use them as a separate component, while others simply enjoy it with tea or coffee. These aspects can be clarified by analyzing visual user-generated content, since mentioned insights are not written; instead, they are intuitively portrayed on photographs.

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Knowing how your product is used in daily life allows brands to create personalized communication with their consumers, increase the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, or even create new products. Oreo, for instance, could have released a recipe book or a series of video tutorials on how to use its products in baking.

Get help of your customers to generate promo ideas

Any campaign requires a lot of resources, from brainstorming ideas to production and distribution, and finishing with ROI calculations. Unfortunately, it happens from time to time that the audience does not respond to the campaign as expected. Thus, visual listening could be a great tool to explore the consumers' perspectives in advance.

For instance, the brand may decide to release merchandise. How is it supposed to predict which goods would be more successful? What branded items do people want to wear or use? Marketers may now monitor not only licensed, but also self-made merchandise that customers want so badly that they make it themselves.

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McDonald's is one of the brands whose logo appears regularly on non-licensed goods. Even though they occasionally produce limited merch, it's always a good idea to look for new ideas in user-generated content. Aside from making something that the audience will enjoy, it might also be an excellent story for the media.

While social media platforms have become more focused on images and video, visual listening is an essential tool for any marketer looking to stay ahead of the competition.

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