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Images are the New Text in Social Media

24 Aug 2017 2:46 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

Michalis A. Michael 

Images are t

By: Michalis A. Michael, CEO at DigitalMR Ltd,  

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an old adage that holds true today just as it did in 1911 when it was coined. Perhaps even more so today as according to Twitter: 77% of all tweets about soft drinks do not include any textual reference to this subject; an image makes whatever point the author wants to make instead.

There are over 1,000 social media monitoring tools out there which use text analytics to analyse social media posts; if the soft drink statistic above is true for all products, then these tools are failing their users - the marketing professionals.

DigitalMR was lucky enough to be the recipient of a grant from Innovate UK that allowed some of its team members to focus on R&D for 16 months and produce a solution - "DEEPTHEME" - to this obvious gap in the market of social media listening and analytics; a neural network with tens of layers that takes pixels as input and produces a caption in the form of a proper sentence, essentially describing what an image is about. I will be a pompous "a.." and say that object recognition (e.g. a brand logo) is fairly easy compared to the degree of difficulty of using "Deep Learning" (=neural networks with more than 4 layers) to produce a sentence that makes sense with pixels as the only input; this is the type of AI that brings us closer to Strong AI (Strong AI's goal is to develop artificial intelligence to the point where the machine's intellectual capability is functionally equal to a human's.

I will outline the most common market research use case in some detail using a hypothetical scenario:

  • we harvested 20 million posts about a product category from the past 12 months in Mandarin in order to carry out sentiment and semantic analysis and enhance a brand health tracking survey that a blue chip multinational runs in China. The monthly tracker includes 1000 survey responses every month.
  • in the 20 million posts from multiple social media and other public websites including reviews on e-commerce sites, there are about 10 million images.
  • a regular text analytics tool would only be able to analyse the text in the posts - assuming it can analyse Mandarin in the first place - and would deliver a report in the form of a dashboard with a questionable accuracy (not many marketers think to ask the question: what is your tool's sentiment and semantic accuracy? They end up with less than 50% accuracy)
  • in the 10 million posts with text they discover that the discussion drivers are price and customer service complaints. Had they been able to analyse the 10 million images as well they would discover that product users like to show off the product while they are having fun with friends, on vacation and generally during their social time.
  • Thankfully DEEPTHEME produced the Magic Captioner ( which turns the images to full sentences about the occasion of product usage. These sentences can be analysed for topics, sub-topics and attributes of conversations like any other post with text. The probability to discover valuable customer insights is now at least double, if not more. It is still a young A.I. - only 3 months old - and it appreciates any education you can provide as it trains itself based on your feedback. Try it out with your phone camera.

If a picture is worth a thousand words then 10 million of them are worth one billion!! DEEPTHEME and Magic Captioner only caption a picture with 10-20 words but then again genius is in simplifying concepts, boiling them down to the essence. If you don't believe me here are some references for you, feel free to reach out to them, see if they agree....

"Hearing something a hundred times isn't better than seeing it once" Confucius
"One showing is worth a hundred sayings" Watt
"Use a picture. It's worth a thousand words." 1911 Flanders
"One Look Is Worth A Thousand Words" 1913 Piqua Ohio and 1921 Barnard

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