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An Interview with Christophe Folschette – Why Visual Listening is The Next Big Thing for Marketers

Images and visuals are taking over online and social media. From celebrity selfies to user generated content for brands, visuals are everywhere: on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Buzzfeed and beyond.

For marketers this kind of content is gold dust that has a tendency to spread like wildfire and helps brands connect with their increasingly social savvy audiences. But whilst tracking text mentions of brands online and on social media is now standard practice using social listening platforms, tracking visual content has long proved more difficult.

Enter visual listening.

In our new report, we explain how using a combination of image recognition technology with advanced social intelligence, brands can now get a full picture of their brand online and make sure they know all the conversations taking place about their company.

To explain why this is important and how brands can use this technology we caught up with Talkwalker founder, Christophe Folschette.

Q1: First of all, what exactly is “visual listening”?

Christophe: Visual listening is like social listening but for visual content. Up until now, social listening has mainly focused on text content like the text of tweets or the text of a blog post. Visual listening goes one step further and allows you to track logos within images and photos posted on social networks and online. From here, you can apply all sorts of advanced analytics to understand how a post spreads across the web, which images are trending at the moment, the top influencers posting photos of your products and much much more.

Brands can track usage of their logo in an instant using visual listening from Talkwalker

Q2: But why should brands be tracking visual content online?

Christophe: Over recent years the use of visual content – that’s photos and images – has exploded on all social networks and across online media channels. Reports suggest that almost two-thirds of all content posted on social channels includes an image. When you think that on Twitter alone, people are sending around half a billion tweets every day, that’s an enormous amount of visuals that audiences are consuming.

Studies have also shown that the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text which gives some indication as to why this type of content appeals to us so much. Now if you’re a marketer I think that in itself is a pretty compelling reason to start thinking seriously about how you’re tracking visual content online.

When you add the fact that for brands, up to 80% of brand images online make no reference to the brand in text, the limitations of text only listening become clear. Our tests show that for some major brands they are missing up to 30,000 brand images every week.


Starbucks would miss over 30,000 online posts about their brand every week without visual listening (Data from March 14-21, 2016)

Q3: So what does this mean for brands and how can they use this technology? Christophe: For many brands their social media monitoring and analytics activities are fundamentally incomplete. Without both text-based listening and visual listening brands are only getting a partial view of their brand presence. Making decisions based on partial data can lead to problems down the line.

But even beyond having a full picture of your online brand presence, the use cases of visual listening are extensive.

From a social marketing perspective, brands can uncover hidden user generated content that helps them to forge stronger connections with their audience. Reports suggest that UGC increases conversions by 10% when included in the online purchase path.

Starbucks UGC that would have been missed without visual listening

From a crisis perspective, brands will be able to pick up on any potentially damaging post, even if it doesn’t explicitly mention their brand name in text.

Sponsors can track every appearance of their brand logo on social and online to get a clearer picture of sponsorship ROI.

Q4:  Okay last question. How would you sum up the benefits of visual listening in one sentence?

Christophe – Get the full picture of your online brand presence and leverage the true power of visual content.

Christophe Folschette Bio

Christophe is co-founder and global sales director at Talkwalker. He left business consulting at Accenture to follow his entrepreneurial spirit and firm belief in the value of social media intelligence for businesses. From years of meeting with clients and developing Talkwalker, Christophe has become a cross-functional specialist in understanding the data and analytics requirements for clients’ business needs. Christophe holds an MSc degree in computer science and economics from the Munich University of Technology.

For more on how marketers can effectively track and act on insights found using visual listening, read our new report “Why Visual Listening is the Next Big Thing for Marketing“.

read full report


Image Credit: CC/Flickr/Yann Caradec


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