There are several problems with hashtags, the least of which is how downright annoying they can be. The real problem for marketers is that hashtags - and similar word-specific compiling technologies on Twitter - don't recognize if a brand logo pops up in an image. According to LTU Technologies, 36% of all links shared on Twitter are images. What's more, 77% of brand images are shared without the all-important hashtag or text reference - just a link to an image. Even the most popular tweet ever, notching over 800,000 retweets, is an image.
Stephen Shepherd, general manager of LTU, told RTM Daily, "Brands and consumers are using social as a way to interact more every day. As a consequence, there is a growing trajectory upwards of the amount of imagery shared on social streams that doesn't necessarily have the hashtag associated with the brand."
What LTU provides is technology that recognizes brand logos. Since you can't hashtag a logo, this seems to offer marketers something unique. "LTU Technologies provides an engine platform that has an algorithm that looks for image similarity and colors," Shepherd said. The company has a pool of brand logo "fingerprints," and when a tweeted image matches a specific fingerprint the algorithm matches them up.
On the one hand, as long as images containing their brand logo are making the rounds, marketers are probably satisfied. On the other hand, how are the marketers supposed to track that kind of information without Twitter compiling it for them? The image recognition is done with only a few seconds delay, Shepherd claimed. As far as real-time marketing on Twitter goes, this type of technology can allow brands to truly follow how consumers are using and talking about their products.
Look at the image above. Carlsberg beer would have no idea that this user was putting their image out there. Granted, the vast majority of
images shared by your Average Joe won't get many retweets, let alone 800,000, but this technology would still give brands a better idea of not only how often people are sharing their brand image, but
it's being shared.
Not every image is going to have a brand logo in it, but the problem with real-time marketing on Twitter is that the ones that do have a logo are going unnoticed. This technology might not increase their chance of appearing on the almighty "Trending" list, but hashtags don't give marketers a full picture of what their consumers are doing in real-time, which, to them, is what Twitter should be all about.