Category Archives: Social Media

Why human geography needs social media research

Our amazing summer intern Hannah Haddad left FACE this week to head back to her studies at the University of Bristol. Hannah is studying Human Geography – so we asked her to write a closing piece on how this and social media research are related.

Over to you Hannah: 

You know when you discover something you never once needed, and then suddenly you can’t let go? I never needed my calendar on tap. I never needed an electric toothbrush. I never needed that empty shelf until I filled it. These needs are now so real, that I truly believe they were always there; I just never knew.

Come September, I see this pattern repeating itself on my return to university: human geography needs social data.

Human geography and social media

Human Geography studies the human being in its interaction with the surrounding environment. Human behaviour; movement; connections; condition. Social structure; social change; cultural output; creation. Our impact on each other and our environment. Social media is altering all of these things, and will increasingly do so as the Internet becomes thoroughly webbed into our lives and environment. As this happens, Human Geographers must adapt their methodology, in order to capture the new interactions and reactions of the inter-webbed human being. Failure to do so will deprive the discipline – which has always strived for universal coverage – of a data source verging toward exactly that scale.

Human geography is dealing with a changing species. A species that talks to – and cares about – a stranger across the globe. A species that can exist in endless different places, events, and conversations at once. A species that juggles a greater social sphere than ever before. A species with endless identities – physical and virtual – and all just as real as each other. A species where power lies in voice, rather than land. Likes, favourites, followers, rather than gold. A species that talks to no one, and gets a reply from everyone – because in fact that “no one” is anyone at all. We made social media. Now watch social media make us in turn.


Social media creates new spaces. No longer is an event or monument constricted to a local scale. The world is invited. Social media flattens the hierarchy; bringing institutions down to the layman’s level, and empowering the wo(man) on the street. The public is implicitly allowed to talk more freely, openly, spontaneously, subconsciously. In this way, social change is catalysed as people of similar drives and passions are brought together to accumulate as one voice.

Imagine the miners’ strikes with social media. More power to the protesters; a wider sphere of international support; a story that is impossible to ignore, whether at the scene or removed. Social movements do not singularly spread through social networks, but spawn subsequent debates in their path, engaging wider demographics, and unfolding the cracks in society. Besides gathering worldwide solidarity online, the #Ferguson campaign opened the floor for talks on race, police militarisation, and law enforcement in the USA. Social media are the arteries through which these social ripple effects can flow.

social media movements

Social media brings the research subjects closer, too, ensuring that research stays in touch with the people. The recycling of data – namely journal articles and reports – risks taking forward a view that has been plucked from reality, and twisted by over-thinking. Academics who have turned the postcolonial knicker trade and its impact on 21st century cuisine dissipation across Eurasia into their undying passion (no really), are likely to give you a somewhat different view on knickers and cuisine than the real people, wearing the knickers and cooking the food.

New spaces and social structures give birth to new behaviours. Social media will keep this change on record, creating the vastest, most usable, most life-like document of humankind than ever before.

And that’s why human geography needs social media.


Facebook Topic Data: 3 Use Cases for Market Research

As announced last month, FACE have partnered with DataSift to access Facebook topic data. This source analyses what everyone is talking about on the platform and provides aggregated and anonymised data about the topics they discuss and the demographics of the people engaging. 

The FACE team have been working with this data for a month or so now and wanted to share three use cases we think add real value to the market research industry.

1. Benchmarking brand health

benchmarking brand health

Globally the platform has a massive 1.44 billion users, making it the biggest social network in the world. This scale means it’s less a case of ‘representative’ coverage and perhaps more accurate to think of Facebook data in terms of a census, near 100% of the total population. A 2014 study from Pew reports that in the US 71% of the online population uses Facebook and in the UK, a 2014 Ofcom report notes that Facebook remains the default social networking site for almost all UK adults who are online (66%).

This scale and representative means that we can work with clients more confidently than ever before to use Facebook Topic Data to:

  • track brand health for brands more accurately than ever before without resorting to costly surveys 
  • benchmark brands against each other in categories for share of voice, sentiment and engagement, using Facebook metrics as industry standard norms  

 2. Audience insights for planning

Audience insights for planning

One of the challenges of using social data in research and planning has always been uncertainty about the people behind the status updates: who are they? With Facebook topic data we can now access aggregated granular demographic information on the audience.

With this data we have been able to give our clients reliable and representative reports on what their target audience groups (by age, gender, location lifestage) are talking about in key categories, plus understanding the content they share. This information gives researchers a robust and realtime methodology for building pen portraits of audiences that enable you to build platforms for new communication and product ideas.

3. Rapid testing of qualitative insights

Rapid testing of qualitative insights

Due to the private nature of the platform, interaction on Facebook tends to be more about your friends and family and the interests you share with them. This means that the information you share on online is likely more aligned to your real life offline persona.

For us it enables our researchers to use Facebook Topic Data in their research studies to test and quantify some of our hypothesis around product pain points, brand perceptions and general attitudes without resorting to surveys. This means we can use Facebook Topic Data to rule territories either in or out of product and comms development projects on a wide range of marketing categories

In the next few months we will be sharing a number of detailed use cases that we are working on with our clients so watch this space. 

If you would like to see how Facebook Topic Data can help your research brief, please send an email to:

Meet us at… ‘Analysing Images in Social Media’ at Sentiment Symposium, 15 July

Sentiment Analysis Symposium conference

Our CIO and Pulsar’s VP of Product, Francesco D’Orazio (@abc3d) is off to the New York for the Sentiment Analysis Symposium on 15-16 July 2015. The event aims to help you discover business value through analysing opinions, emotions and attitudes in social media.

Fran will be speaking about Visual Social as part of the presentation track on 15 July at 9.25am.

Alongside Fran, there are many fascinating speakers – we’ve picked out a few highlights:

  • Predictive nature of social media Inferring demographics from Social Data,  Rohini Srihari, Chief Scientist at SmartFocus
  • Providing direction to the fashion industry based on online sentiment’s deviations from expert-anointed colors, Bethany Bengtson, Analyst at Bottlenose.
  • A predictive model of social/content effectiveness, Jason Moriber, Executive Director at Verizon Wireless
  • Emojineering at Instagram, Thomas Dimson, Software Engineer at Instagram

Registration for the conference is still open and you can buy tickets here.


Learn about how to make sense of visual data with Pulsar’s Instagram Integration and new Content feature. Also look at our research study ‘How Stuff Spreads #1 – Gangnam Style vs Harlem Shake‘, which analyzes how visual content is spread online.

If you’re attending Sentiment Symposium and want to schedule a meeting with Francesco, follow this link to his calendar and choose your time slot.

Interested in learning more about image analysis in social media or you want Francesco to talk at your conference, send him an email:

Social Intelligence Beyond Monitoring #4: PR Crisis Management

Job Muscroft FACE CEOIn this blog series I’m looking at the emerging uses cases for social intelligence which are more than counting mentions of brands and consumer sentiment.

I want to talk about where the big value lies for companies investing in building capabilities of analysts and researcher teams who look at social data to go beyond telling what happened and answer why and what to do about it.

Previous blogs have explored social intelligence for real-time marketing and brand positioning. This month: PR crisis management.


A large mobile network brand needed social intelligence to manage their brand reputation during a big outage in 2012 – it impacted 10 million customers across 2 days.

What we did

Using social media listening combined with our team of analysts working closely with the client and their PR agency teams to provide live intelligence on the following:

  • Measure the scale of the problem in social media
  • Benchmark against typical performance or previous issues: how big a problem is it?
  • Understand how discussion is developing, minute by minute
  • Know which news stories & links are getting the most traction
  • Who are the influencers in the discussion?
  • Identify the individual messages getting the most attention
  • Understand the ideas and linguistic associations people are making with your brand

Why this worked

The client found this use of social intelligence during the crisis campaign helped them make agile and better decisions about how to communicate with their customers and turn around customer sentiment:

  • The team analysed around 1 million messages in realtime over the period of the outage and prioritised customers who needed help first and fast
  • We reported on how customers were reacting to the tone of the customer service social response
  • We helped to shape narrative from the moment the crisis started, first by recommending openly admitting uncertainty; “We’re still working out the causes of this problem” and even weakness “This isn’t an acceptable mistake to have made”.
  • At the tail-end of the crisis we also helped support the team to understand when it was acceptable to start using more humour as customers had a sense that the company were now on top of the issue


  • Quick reaction to conversations taking place online, combined with the company’s effective communications strategy resulted in an incredible shift in sentiment. Negative sentiment score reached – 37% at the height of the outage but started decreasing in the next 24 hours. Positive sentiment had risen from +8% to +27% as consumers recognized the company’s efforts to customer service.
  • During the outage, the clients Twitter followers increased by 30% and Facebook fans nearly the same.

In this case social intelligence was key in helping the brand to be open and “keep a dialogue going. The defining feature of a social media crisis is that the story has already escaped out of the brand’s control – so an old-school “no comment’ approach allows it to run away entirely. Sharing all the knowledge you have keeps the company’s voice central in the discussion, and allows them to start building a narrative that can help resolve matters.

Any thoughts or questions, as always feel free to get in touch with me at @JobMuscroft and

New! Social media insight from 1.4 billion people with anonymised & aggregated Facebook topic data

Today I’d like to share something new which we are very excited about. We are partnering with DataSift to offer game-changing social media insight – the ability to draw on anonymised and aggregated Facebook topic data. This new data source for the research industry has the benefit of drawing on aggregated and anonymised analytics covering 1.44 billion Facebook users, with searches across more than 60 variables. This allows us to tap into what audiences are sharing and engaging in on Facebook about events, brands, subjects and activities, all in a way that keeps personal information private. This could be a valuable way for your brand to understand:

  • How, where and when brand and category-related content is being created and shared
  • What audiences are sharing information on and engaging with your brand – and your competitors
  • How a particular target demographic shares content, or interacts with media on Facebook

I’d love to discuss with you ways this data might be of use, and how it can augment your existing customer insight work – send me a note ( if you’d like to talk further. pylon-diagram Facebook topic data

Get a free trial

We are offering a free trial of this data in Pulsar to all FACE customers. Just contact me ( if you’d like to get set up. We can of course augment this with Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and blog data for more comprehensive social media intelligence, as required. If you think your digital marketing or social media teams would be interested to learn more, do pass on their details too. Facebook is most brands’ biggest social marketing investment, so this new source of insight offers huge opportunities for optimising content, communications and targeting. We’re very excited to be introducing it to boost our ‘socially intelligent research’ offer. Pulsar Facebook topic data launch Matt Arnold is Head of Research for FACE UK and Asia. He’s a strong believer that ‘context’ must remain the driving force behind research and planning design, and aims to continually provide solutions that work to broaden client thinking and challenge conventional wisdom. Find him on LinkedIn here. Or learn more about this new datasource from our VP of Innovation, Francesco D’Orazio, who shares 8 Reasons Why Facebook Topic Data is a game-changer for the marketing and research industries.