A 'Like' Is Not A Relationship: 4 Levels of Customer Endorsement


With Instagram’s 300 million current monthly users it’s no wonder that having an online presence has never been so important. But even if your photos are buzzing with likes, a brand endorsement is not guaranteed.

Level 1.  Customer ‘likes’ product

This takes 1 second of their time and requires little effort. Likes measurements are overblown in marketing strategies - people like photos for a number of reasons. They hop on the bandwagon with the psyche that ‘everyone else is liking this so, hey, why not?'

Liking photos induce a release of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, boosting your happiness and balancing fight-or-flight cortisol levels. Mix this up with beautiful images from around the world and it’s no wonder Instagram is growing so rapidly with 2.5 billion likes per day per 70 million photos shared.

In short, ‘likes’ statistics alone are of little value when measuring brand success - anyone can zone out, scroll down and like everything.

Level 2.  #YourBrand - The Customer hashtags your brand

This stage of customer endorsement requires 5 seconds of typing. It is a personal recommendation to the user's followers and the worldwide instagram community to buy your product. Given that 92% of people in 2015 trust peer to peer recommendations over online advertising, this level of brand endorsement is important.

Level 3.  Oh Snap! Product Photo

It’s pretty straightforward, but this process still takes some effort on the customer’s behalf - 1 minute to open the camera app, position the object, find a nice filter, hashtag it appropriately and post. The customers intent is to endorse the product or brand and again the brand is benefitting from a personal recommendation, instantly boosting credibility. The value of this stage is increasingly important. Through visual communication customers become familiar with your logo and recognise it elsewhere, increasing brand awareness.

Level 4. The All-Powerful #Selfie

Selfies are the most popular photos on instagram - even monkeys have famously gotten the hang of taking selfies. Instagram pictures are 38% more likely to gather a response when there’s a face in the photo and the power of the selfie extends far beyond instagram - 48% of selfies are shared to Facebook and 27% to Whatsapp, resulting in super customer endorsement through product association.

So how do we go about designing strategies to meet the desired engagement level and encourage product association?

Machine Learning and Computer Vision technology detects image content to determine what is specifically happening in photos, beyond surface hashtags. We quickly detect the brand logo and put it in context with the demographics. This information makes it possible find out exactly when and where customers are using products to tailor marketing strategies to encourage more customer endorsement.

The benefits of this technology?

    • More accurate metrics are able to decode the level of customer endorsement
    • Easily disambiguate between textual impressions (hashtags) and visual impressions (logos)
    • Surface customer engagement moments can be further analysed as a source of insights.

  Likes are fickle and it’s increasingly important to cut through the noise - the old phrase ‘quality over quantity’ still rings true.

Co-written with Miriam O'Shea