Any forward-thinking brands tracking trends that will matter in 2018 must surely include image recognition in their social monitoring. Even before tech like AR and VR explode, image recognition will have a “moment” – and you want to be on the right side of it.

Why image recognition?

As social networks have progressed into more visual mediums, it’s only natural image recognition and analysis is emerging as a necessary operational to-do. Text hasn’t been replaced entirely, but a huge part of the narrative is now expressed through imagery.

GIFs, memes, infographics, personal photos, emojis, and video convey consumer opinions with or without text, and in the case of “without” you still need to have access to the conversation.

For starters, engagement relies on understanding topics of interest, so you can join in organically. But more importantly, brand health depends on recognizing your own brand logo anytime it’s mentioned online. Sometimes that “mention” is only visual – so image recognition is a must.

So brands have a major stake in image analytics for their own protection. But there’s much more than that coming down the pike.

Facial recognition and the slippery slope

Facial recognition is no longer just the stuff of televised crime dramas. It’s used by Facebook to suggest image tags, by Google Photos to sort your images by people or category, and other apps. But it’s Apple’s Face ID app that jumps right into secret agent territory, letting users unlock their phones just by looking at them.

What used to be super high tech has been brought into the everyday.

Face ID is supposed to be localized to users’ devices, keeping the biometric data safe and secure. But is it really a surprise that Apple plans to allow some third-party developers access? It shouldn’t be, though consumers are rightfully concerned. But there are two sides to the coin, of course.

Just about any app you download comes with a list of permissions you’ve got to accept for the app to work properly. Most need access to your camera or other information to integrate with your phone in a way that makes the app actually useful. Consumers have made the occasional grumble about these privacy infractions, but most still click to allow permission.

In the case of Face ID, however, we really have gone where no man has gone before in that the law hasn’t quite caught up with technology. It’s possible Face ID could be used against you – and that’s to say nothing of the potential instances where it could malfunction.

What do consumers really want?

Image recognition in social listening is incredibly revealing – offering amazing consumer and competitive intelligence. But where does it stop? As the tech improves, will facial recognition become the next level of social listening, telling brands where consumers are at every moment? Will your audience want to be monitored so closely?

The answer, as always, is contained in consumer sentiment. If the latest tech trend is one that upsets your target audience, is it worth jumping on? Or, if so, how can you speak to their concerns in a way that differentiates your brand?

Competitor analysis is also of major import here. If you can learn from other’s mistakes, you should – always! Instead of being lumped in with those taking advantage of consumers and exploiting their privacy, you can be the brand that provides the perfect compromise. That is, if you’re listening.

Be sure you are.

2018 is going to be an amazing year! Are your social analytics tools up to the task? Let us show you what NetBase can do to set you up for market domination!

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