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The Image Power: Image Recognition and the evolution of Social Networks

From smart cars to medical apps, to support for the visually impaired: in the field of Artificial Intelligence, Image Recognition becomes increasingly central. And it also changes the world of Social Network.

It was 1990 when Tim Berners-Lee created the first browser, a fundamental step for building the Web as we know it now: in less than 30 years, that network that has generated enormous changes in the world which has been filled with words, conversations, post, comments. And of images.

But if words have always been the subject of massive and in-depth analysis – from sociolinguistics to conversational analysis, through the semiotics of texts – the images are a little less so. Although visual communication has always been fundamental for the human being, images are a more complex and polysemic material, and therefore difficult to interpret.

A strong push to the study of images in contemporary times comes from the use of Artificial Intelligence: there are already several applications in the medical field, in the sector of intelligent cars or in support of the blind. A sector that has seen an unprecedented development thanks to the evolution of Machine Learning and Deep Learning. Image Recognition is also changing the world of Social Networks: the possibility to analyze images through software will open several new ways for the work of marketers in the coming years.

If you think you already get the most out of your Visual Marketing strategy on Instagram, do not continue reading this article and download our checklist to see if you really have everything under control:

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Use it as a test or as a memorandum for your weekly activities. Share it with your department and build your Data-Driven Strategy day after day.

The importance of Image Recognition for Social Networks

The amount of images shared on Social Media is enormous: after all, the same Networks often entice users to upload images. The fact that posts with images have a greater appeal than those made of text alone is a proven fact. According to Hubspot, for example, in 2016 on Twitter, tweets with images obtained 150 times more shares than textual tweets.

Immagine che mostra un'Image Recognition: nella foto un uomo in mountain bike

But until recently, all these fundamental data – think of users who simply post an image without text – were lost: today, thanks to several apps for the recognition of images based on AI, a new and abundant amount of material is available to analysts.

But exactly what changes with the use of this technology?

  1. Analysis and selection of data. People who monitor conversations often have to deal with millions of daily interactions and comments. The development of Image Recognition applications can help to skim the amount of data, eliminating spam, identifying the most important interactions and helping marketers to focus on the most significant data.
  2. Social Listening and Brand Reputation. Information monitoring also benefits from IR: images that users associate with brands can be very significant. In addition, elements such as trolls, offensive content, massive doses of spam can create the conditions for a crisis: it is therefore essential to analyze not only the words, but also the visual part associated with these messages, so as to prevent, as far as possible , the cracks in relations with our public.
  3. Influencer Marketing. We have already talked about how important it is to focus on the right Influencer : image recognition technology can make a huge contribution in this sense. How? Browsing millions of users, analyzing how they use the platforms and finding those that best fit the values of the Brand.
  4. Customer Care. IR combined with the technology of the chatbot can greatly streamline the work of Customer Care, automating the procedures on ordinary problems and instead identifying the eventualities where it is necessary for human intervention.
  5. Geo referencing. Image recognition linked to georeferenced data can be fundamental for all those activities that make geomarketing an important asset: from shops to tourism operators, through hotels and holiday sites, up to the organization of events.

How does the Image Recognition on Instagram function?

Given the increasing importance of images, in recent years platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat have grown rapidly. In parallel, the recognition of images has been greatly boosted thanks to projects such as ImageNet and Pascal VOC: free database of images with millions of images associated with keywords. The first was launched by a team of researchers from Stanford and Princeton in 2009: since then it has grown to include more than 14 million images.  The second is instead the result of the work of several English universities, contains fewer images than ImageNet, but has descriptions with richer and more detailed information associated with it. Data bases are crucial not only for the work of universities but also for Google, or for networks such as Facebook and Instagram, which use them to improve their machine learning tools .

The ability to analyze and recognize images is a huge advantage for those who work on networks based exclusively on images such as Instagram: we think trivially the number of daily selfies, the amount of visual content posted by foodies, the way of interacting users passionate about fashion or design. At the same time, the dispersion of important messages that may not have any hashtags is avoided. This is how MetaEyes works for example: it starts by selecting a hashtag and doing an exploratory search. Based on what the machine learns about visual content with relevant hashtags, it is able to find similar but non-hashtagged images. This allows you to reach even users who have not used any tags or keywords, opening a previously unattainable channel.

The recognition of images can open a large number of opportunities to reach new targets, is able to optimize the procedures of interaction with users, but also to streamline the daily work of analysts and marketers, performing screening and allowing them to work on the most significant data.

If you think you get the most out of your Visual Marketing strategy on Instagram download our checklist to see if you really have everything under control:

download the checklist

Use it as a test or as a memorandum for your weekly activities. Share it with your department and build your Data-Driven Strategy day after day.

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