Visual listening is the next big thing in social. Here’s why.

This is an interesting trend in tech and one of the many reasons why I’m on the Momentage App… -WS

by Will McInnes via

The human brain can process images in as little as 13 milliseconds, according to research from MIT released this year. That’s a hell of a lot faster than earlier studies, which suggested it takes 100 milliseconds. Visuals are just easier to consume: fact.

This is no secret to marketers. It’s the reason images have always been a huge mainstay in advertising, as well as the driving force behind the tidal wave of photos and image-based content shared on social networks — as many as 500 million per day, according to last year’s Internet trends report from Mary Meeker.

Images have surpassed text as the currency of choice in social conversations. Just look at the growth of image-based social networks like Instagram, Pinterest, SnapChat, Vine, and Tumblr. Twitter and Facebook encourage the use of images too because, as socially savvy people know, posts with an image get more views and shares.

Brands are actually using Instagram as a mainstream advertising platform as well. In fact, some of the biggest consumer brands in the world now count Instagram as one of their three or four core social platforms along with Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Looking ahead, as brands experiment with virtual reality innovations like Oculus Rift and Google Glass, you can expect new kinds of visual experiences that will look and feel quite different — immersive and multi-sensory.

Today there are a handful of standalone listening and analytics tools for networks like Pinterest but, on the whole, today’s social media listening and measurement platforms are built for a textual world, with limited abilities to fully register the nuances of visuals. This means there’s an enormous chunk of visual Web content that is not being fully “heard.”

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