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A New Approach to Measuring How Brands Are Portrayed On Social Media

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NEW YORK, NY — June 9, 2017. Scientists propose a “visual listening in” approach to measuring how brands are portrayed on social media, by mining visual content posted by users.

With the rapidly growing amount of visual brand-related content consumers create on
social media, images are a promising tools for marketers, designers and brand managers to track their brands‘ performance.

The study, Visual Listening In: Extracting Brand Image Portrayed on Social Media, published in SSRN by Professor Natalie Mizik of University of Washington, Liu Liu and Daria Dzyabura of NYU Stern School of Business, proposes an approach to leveraging image data by extracting scores of brand perceptual attributes expressed in the images.

Although text-mining approaches have gained popularity in leveraging user generated content for brand monitoring, image-mining approaches are still relatively new. A new scientific paper bridges the image-processing research with the branding domain by proposing an approach to online brand monitoring and market intelligence through consumer-generated images. This approach enables managers to monitor how their brands are portrayed on image-based social platforms by mining consumer-created brand images.

Academic researchers and practitioners have developed tools for social media monitoring,
to listen to consumers’ online brand conversations, and to gain insights on how consumers
perceive brands relative to their competitors’. The focus so far has been on text content.
However, given that images are on their way to surpassing text as the medium of choice for
social conversations, and the rich information of the consumption experience and feeling
conveyed through images, including visual content as part of firms’ social media efforts is
important to get a more complete understanding of brand-related online conversations.

Brand managers have long recognized the importance of creating, managing, and measuring brand image. In the first decade of the 21st century, a profound shift has occurred not only in how individuals consume information, but also in the very origins of the information itself. Corporations and the traditional media have lost their monopoly on information creation and communications channels.

Much brand-related content is now created and spread through Twitter postings, user discussion forums, social networking sites, and blogs. Firms now operate in an environment in which customers actively participate in shaping brand perceptions and co-creating brands and brand identities. With the wider, more egalitarian distribution model, monitoring how a brand is portrayed on social media is essential to effective brand management.

The study focus on consumer-created visual content, which is on the rise. With the proliferation of camera phones, good data plans, and image-based social media platforms, photo taking and sharing has become an important part of consumers’ social lives. Images are becoming an increasingly prevalent form of online conversations. Instagram users have shared over 300 billion photos to date, and share an average of 70 million photos daily.

In these shared photos, consumers often tag brands, resulting in a large volume of photos depicting brand. For example, a search of hashtag #nike in Instagram returns over 52 million photos tagged with Nike. Through these images, consumers communicate about brands with each other. By mentioning brands in their social media posts, consumers link the brand with context, feelings, and consumption experiences.

From visual content we are able to recover different dimensions of brand image, specifically those related to the nonfunctional attributes of the brand. Images non-verbally convey a lot of information about the usage situation, the setting, mood, and feeling associated with the product. For example, although a consumer is unlikely to write that he is feeling rugged today wearing his Levi‘s jeans, a photograph tagged with Levi‘s may look rugged.

social-media-brands

Sample images from Instagram hashtagged with brands. The first image (a) is hashtagged with eddiebauer and the second one (b) is hashtagged with prada. The first image shows us the consumer wore Eddie Bauer on a hike, and was sitting on a rock, facing mountains in the distance. The second image shows the user taking a picture of herself wearing Prada sunglasses and bright red lipstick. The two images differ in terms of their content (mountainous landscape vs. head shot) but also in their visual properties (color palate, contrast, amount and direction of edges, etc). Through such images, consumers share with one another their mood and experience, which are associated with brands.

A new study is related to three streams of research in the marketing and computer science
fields: user generated content (UGC), visual marketing, and machine learning methods
and applications.

Mining UGC for online marketing intelligence is becoming increasingly popular in both
the marketing and computer science fields, as well as among practitioners. In the
marketing science discipline, Professor Odet Netzer proposed an approach to help firms understand market structure and monitor the topics discussed in relation to their brand by mining brand associations from consumer-generated content on forums. Dr. Culotta measured consumers‘ brand perceptions by mining the brands‘ social connections through social networks on Twitter. Several scientific papers have investigated the relationship between consumer-generated content online, for example, product reviews and ratings, and sales. The focus so far has been on text.

Leveraging image content is an important contribution to this research. By focusing only on text content, a significant portion of online conversations is not being “heard.” First, many consumers, particularly millenials, prefer visual-based online communication, such as Snapchat or Instagram, over text. As a result, analysis focusing only on text ignores many conversations. Second, for some consumer categories, including beverages and apparel, visual content is more easily available than text content.

Scientific paper also contributes to the visual marketing discipline, which has studied how
consumers perceive different visual stimuli. For decades, companies have used visual stimuli to shape consumer brand perceptions through brand logos, advertisements, retail store decoration, and, more recently, social media.

Marketing and branding theory tells us firms use brand elements, such as advertising, social media, and product packaging, to create a brand image in consumers’ minds. However, of course, the images from brands’ official accounts capture only part of the firm’s positioning efforts. For example, consider a beverage that, by the nature of the product itself, is perceived as very healthy, such as juice or bottled water. The firm may focus its visual marketing efforts on making the product look fun or even glamorous, rather than healthy.

The image-mining methods presented in this scientific paper,  provide a first step in analyzing rich image data generated by consumers and firms. Future research can extend the application to analyzing how images affect consumer search behavior, learning consumer preference of product design, designing Ads targeting strategy based on consumer-posted images on social media, and so on. Given visual content is a ubiquitous part of modern life and affects consumers‘ decision making in multiple stages, being able to capture and incorporate visual content into marketing models is important.

Data sourced from Visual Listening In: Extracting Brand Image Portrayed on Social Media,Social Science Research Network; additional content by NicheHunt.com staff

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Facebook granted patent for gesture-based control system

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SEATTLE, WA — August 16, 2017.  Facebook was granted a patent on Tuesday for gesture-based control technology that allows a person to precisely control a computer system without wearing an instrumented glove or any other tracking device.

facebook-gesture-control-patent

Many start-ups and technology companies already incorporate gesture controls into some of their products, perhaps the most widely known being the Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect motion sensor. Facebook, however, could bring about a new era in its own platform.

According to the patent filing released Tuesday, the potential new technology would include two cameras that would observe and record images of a user’s hands. “The configuration and movements of the hands and fingers, or hand gestures, can be used as input. A computer can generate a display that responds to these gestures. The generated display can include objects or shapes that can be moved, modified or otherwise manipulated by a user’s hands, “ the patent says.

Major technology companies are pressing deeper into the emerging fields of AR, where computer projections and hands-free technology blur the line between human and computer interaction. It’s unclear if or when Facebook plans to use this patent in production devices.

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Report: Brands Are Slowly Warming Up to Facebook Live

Harry Suresh

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NEW YORK, NY — August 1, 2017. L2 Inc, digital benchmarking firm based in New York, released its report titled “Video: Live”, which found that over 4 percent of Facebook videos posted in June 2017 by analyzed brands were live, up from 1 percent in August 2016.

Live video is a fast-growing feature on many social media platforms. The report found that seventy-eight percent of Facebook Live video views were paid in June 2017, up from 57 percent in November 2016.

A feature notoriously copied from Snapchat – Instagram Stories, measured in terms of both brand accounts and total posts by brands, surpassed adoption of Snapchat Stories in Q2 2017, the report found.

According to the report, few technologies have altered the social video landscape in the last five years as much as live and ephemeral video. Digital live video mimics a TV broadcast, enabling real-time connections with audiences, while ephemeral video like Snapchat and Instagram Stories allows brands to communicate one-on-one with consumers.

Snapchat broke the ice by gaining wide adoption of ephemeral video in 2013, building a user base of 122 million as of Q1 2016.3 Seeking a slice of this growing pie, Facebook Inc. copied Snapchat’s model. Instagram launched Stories in August 2016, followed by Facebook Stories in March 2017, report says.

Digital live video, meanwhile, introduced a new way for brands to reach consumers in real-time at scale. Twitter acquired Periscope in 2015 and began livestreaming major televised events, such as Thursday Night Football, in the fall of 2016. In April 2016, Facebook Inc. unveiled Facebook Live, which is integrated directly into the Facebook app and allows any user—consumer, publisher, or brand—to broadcast videos on the fly to their audiences.

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YouTube followed suit in February 2017, launching YouTube Live—an offering similar to Facebook Live. Facebook Live has been quickly commercialized, and was used by 74 percent of brands studied in the L2 Intelligence Report: Video 2017. Despite this heavy buy-in, brands largely have yet to refine their live video strategies. This report highlights early best practices that have emerged.

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Influencer marketing

Costs Are Soaring: The Current State of Influencer Marketing In 2017

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Influencers are charging more, but is it money well-spent?

Influencer marketing is big business — and it’s only getting bigger. According to a survey by Tomoson, influencer marketing is the fastest growing online customer acquisition channel, and a survey by Linqia shows that 48% of marketers plan on increasing their influencer marketing budgets in 2017.

influencer-marketing-acquisition-method

The True Power of Influencer Marketing

So, why is influencer marketing growing so fast? The answer lies in the power of earned media. Earned media is built on trust, communities and relationships—whereas traditional marketing relies heavily on paid media. Are you more likely to visit a new restaurant after a recommendation from a friend, or from seeing an ad? It’s no surprise that 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, above all other forms of advertising.

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Source: Titan SEO

And, paid media isn’t just less trustworthy than earned media, it’s also actively ignored. In 2016, there was 30% increase in the use of online ad blockers worldwide. So, as paid media becomes less effective as time goes on, influencer marketing will continue to become more important to business success. But not everyone’s happy about it.

The Frustrating Problem With Influencer Marketing

The confusion around how much to pay influencers seems to grow in unison with the industry’s boom. In a study by The Internet Creator’s Guild, an educational YouTube channel with 2M+ subscribers admitted that, “even after doing a bunch of deals I still feel kind of cheated. We are not exactly cheap, but I still feel that I don’t know what we are worth and other people get more.”

And, in an anonymous interview with Digiday, a social media exec said, “We threw too much money at them and did it too quickly. So in 2014, they were making $500 to show up and take some photos. Then it became $1,500. Now it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars,” going on to say, “We have no idea what to pay them. That’s the problem.”

A young industry in a state of exponential growth has no standard rates or rules. It’s the Wild West of marketing.

So, How Much Do Influencers Earn?

With some influencers swapping promotion for freebies, to YouTube’s top earner Pewdiepie, earning a whopping $15M in 2016, it’s far from a one-size-fits-all industry. Still, understanding ball-park figures can be a good place to start. Here, Captiv8 breaks down the average earnings for influencer posts across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram:

social-media-inluencer-marketing-stats

But while many marketers are targeting the big players, it’s actually the micro-influencers who have better engagement rates—and who therefore, produce the largest ROI.

Micro-Influencers Are More Effective Than Larger Accounts

Micro-influencers have thousands or tens of thousands of followers, instead of hundreds of thousands or millions. They’re trusted leaders, with die-hard communities, usually operating in a niche. Just look at these two graphs from Markerly, showing the relationship between Instagram followership and engagement:

social-media-followership-and-engagement
instagram-followership-and-engagement

As counter-intuitive as it seems, the more followers an influencer has, the less engaged they are.
For this reason, it’s far more effective to partner with a group of micro-influencers, than a single big-hitter. Markerly goes on to suggest, “We believe influencers in the 10k-100k follower range offer the best combination of engagement and broad reach”. So, why do businesses continue to throw money at the larger accounts?

Businesses Are Partnering With Influencers To Build Their Brands

According to a global research study by Traackr, businesses are looking to use influencer marketing to improve brand advocacy, expand brand awareness and reach new targeted audiences.

goals-of-inluencer-marketing

A survey by GroupHigh, showed that calculating ROI is the biggest challenge marketers face in influencer marketing. Add in the confusion surrounding how much to pay influencers, and businesses will struggle to predict how much to invest in an influencer campaign.

So, It’s More Important Than Ever to Demonstrate ROI

Ultimately, as the use of ad blockers continues to rise, and earned media continues to overtake paid media, influencer marketing is only going to become more critical to business success.

With businesses increasing their budgets, and influencers increasing their prices, it only becomes more important for businesses to have a clear path to ROI, before looking to partner with influencers.

Social-reach and views might look great, but if businesses don’t strive to ensure that these turn into clicks, sign-ups, measurable social buzz (like comments and shares), or revenue, the bubble of influencer marketing will burst.

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