Heuritech Fashion Blog

In depth news about artificial intelligence and fashion delivered by our team

March 26, 2019

Brand Rankings: hashtag pollution and missed products without visual recognition on Instagram


Image recognition - social media

Image recognition - social media

With the rise of social media, it has become crucial for brands to manage their presence on visual platforms such as Instagram. Traditional listening solutions follow hashtags to monitor brand popularity. However, this methodology is fraught with problems. Firstly, hashtag pollution is viral on Instagram, i.e. a large majority of posts with a brand hashtag have in fact no relationship with that brand. Secondly, a large majority of Instagram users do not include hashtags in their posts, i.e. brands miss products. As a consequence, unless brands follow all of their clients’ accounts, it will be impossible for them to find their products.

The example of Balenciaga on Instagram:

Balenciaga hashtag - Instagram

  Balenciaga hashtag - Instagram


To illustrate the problem, let's take the #Balenciaga on Instagram. Here, we retrieved the most recent results for #Balenciaga on Instagram.The first 12 results were:

x3 Balenciaga

x1 Chanel

x1 Dior

x1 Hermes

x1 Gucci

x2 Fendi

x2 Nike

x1 other

Only 3 posts out of the 12 were relevant for Balenciaga. But there is more: the majority of results matched Balenciaga’s competitors.

Why is there so much hashtag pollution? Have we been just been unlucky with this specific search?

In fact, the root of the problem lies in the way hashtags work. Post rankings are calculated according to the popularity of hashtags. Because many users and vendors want to be noticed, they regularly  “hack” the popularity of trendy brands to come up in searches.

That these hashtags are irrelevant to the content of their posts is secondary.


Facts and figures about Instagram hashtag pollution

Heuritech ran a study to assess the impact of Instagram hashtag pollution on brand image.


Methodology of Heuritech’s study


Heuritech’s visual recognition technology, based on the latest deep learning research, is trained to recognize hundred of branded products — such as the Nike Air Jordan — in images.

For this study, we analyzed 1.5 million Instagram posts from April to July 2018 thanks to our image recognition algorithms.

We then analyzed the relationship between the products recognized and the hashtags mentioned.

We called it Missed Content each time a product from a brand was found by our visual recognition technology without a brand’s hashtag.

We labelled posts as Spam when our algorithms identified a competitor’s product instead.

Visual recognition for brands and products: Valentino’s case study

Let’s take Valentino as an example: how relevant are specific and general hashtags to finding products from this brand?

Specific hashtags being for example #valentinokittenheels while general hashtags are for instance #fashion or #instagood.

 Valentino fashion brand - hashtag  Valentino fashion brand - hashtag


General hashtags tend to be heavily polluted by spam, while specific keywords are too narrow to retrieve a significant volume of Valentino products.


The brand’s own hashtag is in between these two extremes, yet fails to provide satisfactory metrics. 

Brand rankings

This phenomenon is in fact not specific to Balenciaga or Valentino. Hashtags for all fashion brands show high pollution rates while missing a lot of products at the same time. For these rankings, we analyzed 30 fashion brands.

On average, brandhashtags contain 77,5% of pollution on Instagram. Without visual recognition technology, brands miss on average 78,4% of their products.

fashion brands - hashtag pollution
 fashion brands - hashtag pollution 
Products missed - Instagram
Products missed - Instagram


Do you want to lift the veil on your brand’s Instagram presence, without spam and without missing any products?

Heuritech is here to help. Day and night, we collect and monitor all the content associated with your brand on Instagram. Our platform allows you to visualize moodboards of your products worn in real life to understand your customers better. You can also benchmark your products against your competitors over time and measure your products’ adoption among influencers and consumers.


Drop us a line at info@heuritech.com to know more, or subscribe to our newsletter below! 


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