Memes and gifs are dominating social feeds, the rise of which could cause problems for those using social media for insight, as words diminish and image-based conversations become the new form of communication.
Over 80 million photos are uploaded each day to Instagram and users watch six billion videos on Snapchat every day, according to Brandwatch, while Twitter says more than 100 million gifs were shared on the platform in 2015.
“People aren’t typing things now to share emotion, they’re taking photos,” says Darren Jones, social media lead at the Post Office. “It’s a growing space as more people take and share photos on the likes of Instagram – that is something that’s on my mind for the next campaign.”
It is “a natural way that the landscape has shifted”, according to Pollyanna Ward, digital and social media manager, biscuits at Mondelez, who says brands need to “move forward with consumers” and the users of those platforms.
She adds: “It’s just a new way for customers to talk about us. If someone is posting a meme about Oreos, it’s more for us to know that it is positive – if it’s negative, we can try to understand why.”
Visual listening is the next frontier for the providers as it is their platforms that will need to develop to enable brands to see this data. Many already identify sentiment through emojis and others can identify brand logos in images through AI and advancements in computing power.
Brands have to “develop with it” and look to providers, says Richard Bassinder, head of social media at Yorkshire building Society. “There are things like image listening coming in on the emoji side, that is interesting as it gives a universal way of understanding sentiment – and if we can search and categorise by emoji, that gives us an interesting way of looking at things.”
He says it does “make it tougher” but adds that “part of the new world of marketing is adapting to how people want to communicate and if they want to communicate through images and emojis, we need to be supportive of that”.
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