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Twitter invests $10 million into research lab

09 October 2014 | 04:24 am

Twitter invests $10 million into research labTwitter has announced that it is to invest $10 million into analysing the way people use social media. The research unit will be based at the new Laboratory of Social Machines at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The five year project will review the data Twitter has received over the past eight years to gain a better understanding of how people engage and share information.

Dick Costolo CEO of Twitter is quoted by digital trends as commenting that the investment will allow the company to “seize the opportunity to go deeper into research to understand the role Twitter and other platforms play in the way people communicate, the effect that rapid and fluid communication can have and apply those findings to complex societal issues.”

The investment pays testament to the fact that the information gained through social media is extremely powerful. But to what extent are you and your organisation making the most of the research insights available to you through your social media channels?

Here are five areas you might consider when reviewing your social media data

1) The Gender Divide

Social Media Channels enable you to gauge the views of your customers, partners and stakeholders. But caution should be taken when reporting on the view, with acknowledgement that the social media channel users may not entirely be representative of the customer base as a whole.

Often an organisation will start out with the intention of a social media channel being gender neutral but the reality can often be that content and activity over time can start to sway towards a particular group or gender.  For example, golf is predominated by male participants in the UK.  But the benefits that men and women enjoy from playing the sport and the types of conversations they choose to have and where are very different.

The National Facebook page for the Get into Golf campaign attracts and engages many females, who are comfortable sharing ideas on clothing, events and posting comments and questions. But as these are not representative of the golf market as a whole, it would be dangerous to base all future policy on the discussions this page holds. However, understanding the gender balance allows the golfing administrators to test and innovate ideas for women using social media channels to gain for insight.

If the gender divide kicks in on your pages or channels then perhaps it is time to review your strategy and establish new areas where the genders can feel more at home.

2) Geographical chatter

Perhaps a little obvious but worth mentioning – different geographical audiences will have different needs.  Geographical tracking tools allow people to cast a ‘listening net’ over a variety of places. Listening in on social media chatter across a specific town or city, a public facility or even a travel route can provide very specific insight into the audience you are trying to reach in a location.

Our clients report significant geographical variations and preferences for social media. As you can imagine, travel routes that provide free media such as newspapers and magazines (Metro anyone) or those with bad mobile signals will see less social media usage in commuting  to workplaces compared to areas where media options are restricted.

Monitoring can be used to establish popular #hashtags and even the terminology used to describe every day things such as birthdays, to allow for more targeted engagement.

3) Tone of voice

One of the greatest challenges marketers have is in getting the tone of voice for an audience right! Too high brow and you alienate, too informal and you lose credibility.  For example, in some scenarios the word ‘Shit’ will be deemed offensive.  Moderation tools will be set to ‘auto strip’ any reference to the word on public facing pages, to ensure that customers are not being caused offence.  But in other scenarios the audience may for example use the term ‘Shit hot’ to describe something good. So the approach to tone of voice will vary accordingly.

Analysing your social media will give you a very good insight into the tone of voice that your customers (or potential customers) use and some of the approaches you could adopt to reach them.  In some cases it may also provide you with the opportunity to test certain tones.

4) Forums

Focus groups have been used widely through the years to bring together and research key segments.  Traditionally, focus groups were run by large organisations where the budget was available to book facilities, moderators and manage the considerable administration in co-ordinating people to attend.

Social media has opened up the opportunity to organisations of all size to test opinion online.  If you are considering running groups it is essential that you follow best practice and remain compliant with regulation, it is also worth checking your marketing research approaches against those recommended by the Market Research Society (MRS).

5) Pixel tracking – getting techie about it!

Some organisations have great success in using tracking pixels through social media to understand where their audience travels and their approach to referral.  This is particularly effective where a purchase has been made which is seen as prestige amongst peers (e.g. concert tickets) or in which some form of social interaction is needed post purchase to complete the transaction successfully (e.g. booking a restaurant, squash court where you need others to come along too).

We are seeing the use of tracking more and more through our digital footprint and 2015 is most definitely going to be the year of the tracker in this respect.

The power of customer insight is a great thing and even if you believe that your social media is below par there is undoubtedly much insight that can be gleened from the social media interactions you have had to date.  Ideally, you will be getting regular analytics and insights from your marketing team but if not, why not have a creative session reviewing what you have to date to shape the future.

CrowdControlHQ is the UK’s leading social media risk management and compliance platform.  We help organisations to access insights through their social media, with geographical listening, targeting and analytics tools access through a single dashboard. Contact us to find out how we can help you.


Michelle Leavesley

Marketing Director

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