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How to build a social image strategy
As brands lose control over the dissemination of one of their most valuable strategic assets, we may think it's a negative phenomenon, but in reality this is a huge opportunity to generate new revenues, increase loyalty and strengthen brand value and operations. Kristina: The social space is exploding. How can a brand take all of the random instances of consumers using their images from random to a strategy?
Stephen Shepherd, General Manager, LTU Technologies: The challenge stands in one main point: change this new phenomenon into a positive lever by developing a visual marketing strategy. Starbucks does really well today on twitter - and implementing the right tracking tools can help Starbucks maximize their consumer reach via their customers' smartphones, gaining brand and customer experience through interactions with the visual brand identity and likewise proactively control over their visuals in social web and mobile.
Kristina: There is a struggle for many brands in tracking how their trademarks are seen; why do they need to do this?
We have simply entered a new era - the age of images - and brands can't ignore it anymore. In 2012, Pinterest and Instagram skyrocket in popularity. Facebook offered more than $1 billion USD to acquire Instagram. In December Twitter decided to no longer allow Instagram users to share their visuals on its platform. Why so much interest and fight? Simply because image is a terrific medium for personal and mass communication - see the impact of Obama's picture post on twitter after the elections or the volume of pictures posted every day by Starbucks consumers! The uptake of mobile devices along with faster web speeds have never made so easy for people to post and share visuals online. Moreover image is more viral and meaningful than text - the brand imagery is a universal marker that transcends language by making it easier for consumers to interact with despite language barriers.
Kristina: Why is this a concern for brands?
Stephen: Simply because consumers not only post and share personal images but also original or altered brand visuals to express their positive or negative points of view. Some brands are taking advantage of the opportunity to track and trace the sale of counterfeit goods by using LTU's image recognition for trademark cases. In my opinion, brand logos have become a clustering mechanism to connect fans, followers, etc. across the social media ecosystem.
Kristina: What are your top 3 tips for a brand-based image strategy?
Stephen: Be pragmatic by defining clear targets and objectives! Define which visuals are important to you - logos, packaging, ad campaigns, all of them? Identify the websites and social networks which are crucial to you. And least but not last, while many companies rely on text-based monitoring tools to find mentions of their brands on social networks and across the web, do not forget that the majority of posted photos do not contain branded tags, making it impossible to find them with text-based searches, you will need image recognition technologies.
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