Tag 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.


What’s new in… Charities & Social Media? FACE’s 5 Top Reads

In this week’s links round-up, Ed Hawes evaluates the relationship non-profit organisations have with social media, highlighting their challenges and successes.

Charities and non-profit organisations are often seen as being a little slower than the commercial sector in really integrating digital comms & technologies into how they operate – not least because they are held back by budgets.

I have collated five reads that ask: what are the challenges non-profits face with the uptake of social media? What are the best platforms to use to get your message heard? And which organisations are successes of the digital age?

With social media, charities can win the digital general election

Laura Keely, Guardian

“Platforms like Twitter are vital campaigning tools for the third sector. Charities can use them to force their issues up the political agenda.”

With social media charities can win the digital general election

In the run up to the general election, much has been said around social media’s role to persuade users to vote. Laura Keely – of Macmillan Cancer Support – talks about how charities can encourage existing supporters to champion their cause directly with local MPs.

Social media campaigns during the election period can raise the profiles of important issues and attract new supporters. Keely says online action from supporters is vital if charities want to ensure their issues are on the political agenda.

Our chief executive’s refusal to use social media is holding the charity back

Anonymous, Guardian

“I have worked in charity marketing and communications for more than 15 years and, now more than ever, understand the importance and impact of a personal social media presence. It raises our profile in a crowded space and can be more effective than sending out a press release or posting a story on our own website.”

Our chief executive's refusal to use social media is holding the charity back

The author makes it clear that the charity sector should not solely rely on traditional marketing methods. A charity’s CEO is responsible for being accessible to their followers, which as a result can raise the organisations’ profile in an already crowded market. Not having this medium, however, can stunt their growth.

The article quotes a study claiming eight out of 10 people are more likely to trust an organisation whose CEO and leadership team are on social media. Leaders need to acknowledge this as a way to access a vast range of demographics and new opportunities.

5 lessons from the ways charities use social media

Mary Mitchell, Technology Trust

“Charities with large audiences have discovered that consolidating their presence on Facebook might not be as useful as developing a campaign on Snapchat if they’re targeting a young audience, and that changes to the Facebook algorithm can alter everything.”

5 lessons from the ways charities use social media

Social media has evolved as a place of “expressive capability” where people are collaborative in groups. With this in mind, Mitchell draws on five trends and techniques she delivered in her ‘How international development charities are using social media’ report. This ranges from making sure you deliver the right message on a platform which holds your target audience, to prioritising new voices. These are crucial tips to any non-profit looking for new mediums.

Mary Mitchell’s main point? Social media opens up a pool of new opportunities to bring the Western world closer to developing countries.

Like Instagram. It’ll do wonders for your charity

Zoe Amar, Guardian

“From a National Trust photo campaign to snaps from the Ebola frontline, Instagram can bring your supporters right up to the action.”

Like Instagram. It'll do wonders for your charity

We’ve discussed the importance of charities using social media overall, but which platforms are the most effective and far-reaching? Author Zoe Amar highlights interesting case studies on how Instagram is being used effectively by non-profits. Essentially the app allows charities to take users to the forefront of their activities, be that in Syria or Nigeria. It also brings the topic to a younger audience. Co-creating campaigns on Instagram with your audience as well as involving them in campaigns can be key to retaining interest.

UNICEF is using Snapchat to highlight children missing out on their childhood in Nigeria 

Owen Williams, TNW

“Snapchat is a powerful tool for UNICEF to reach younger people, who might not otherwise take the time to learn the full story. The organization, which is reliant on funding from governments and private donors, is facing a severe funding shortfall, and needs new methods to reach people.”


UNICEF is using Snapchat to highlight children missing out on their childhood in Nigeria

In contrast to the second article on charity CEOs who can’t see social media’s potential, this article shows how a non-profit is investing boldly in new social frontiers. UNICEF have used Snapchat as a vertical that brings awareness of humanitarian issues to a generation who wouldn’t usually seek out these headlines – Generation X.

What UNICEF are doing with Snapchat is a powerful example of how non-profits can utilise social media’s potential to influence a younger audience – an audience that is mostly far removed from the issues UNICEF raise.

Join us in a fortnight for another sector round up. Send over any suggestions to me at @FaceResearch.

Social Intelligence Beyond Monitoring #2: Innovating a new mobile payment product

Welcome to the second edition of our blog series on Social Intelligence Beyond Monitoring, from FACE CEO Job Muscroft

In the second blog in this series I want to look at use cases for social media research which go beyond counting mentions of brands and consumer sentiment. Companies can find big, untapped sources of value if they invest in what we call socially intelligent research. What’s that? It’s research that goes beyond merely narrating what’s happening in social media to answer  the real questions ‘Why?’ and ‘What should we do about it?’  With this deeper level of insight, social media can do a lot more than simply monitor discussion.

Last month I talked about how social media intelligence can guide brand positioning; this month, product innovation.

The Brief

A large global financial services brand with a leading position in the credit card market was looking to develop a new proposition in the emerging area of mobile payment. They were interested in exploring peer-to-peer payments – don’t think Bitcoin decentralised networks (it was before that time!) but simply “consumer-to-consumer” payment between friends and family.

Using mobile phone at dinner table


What we did

We recognised that payment generates high levels of conversation amongst those communities that need to make regular payments such as students, small traders and families.  So we started wide by listening to discussion about the whole category of sending and receiving money. From this we identified thousands of relevant conversations, from which we identified 10 major pain points.

One notable behaviour was the large numbers of conversations started by people checking with their friend or family member that the payment had actually arrived. This showed people using peer-to-peer payment need validation and confirmation built into the systems so they know for sure when the payment has been made and received. An app can’t just offer financial transfer but needs to have a communication layer as well.

The next stage of the project was a co-creation workshop where we used the 10 painpoint areas to ideate the key features of the new P2P product with the target market. Using rapid prototyping methods, we develop a mobile prototype of potential app functionalities,  which we tested with a larger number of consumers for a further two weeks to refine the key product features.

An example of another P2P mobile payment product, Snapcash

An example of another P2P mobile payment product, Snapcash

Why this worked

The client found this use of social intelligence at the beginning of the innovation process had 4 main benefits. This method…

  1. Helped them quickly root ideation in strong observable and quantifiable global needs
  2. Gave the stakeholder team great confidence that the ideas they were generating would solve a real consumer need from the scale and robustness of the data from social intelligence, more than they felt they got from traditional small-scale ethnographic research
  3. Confirmed and brought to life the key target audience for the product
  4. Enabled the client to move to prototyping within four weeks, which is two thirds faster than their usual innovation approach

At FACE we call this ‘augmented research‘, tying together the best of social and qual and emerging and established research methods to get brands closer to their customers – and ultimately making better business decisions.

In the next blog in this series I will be highlighting how we can use social intelligence to help improve a live marketing campaign. Stay tuned!

Connect with Job on LinkedIn or Twitter, or get in touch by email: Job.Muscroft@Facegroup.com

Introducing SONIC reports: on-demand social media insight

We’re proud to be introducing SONIC – our new social analytics reporting offer that can kick start your social media journey.

Struggling for time to analyse and interpret your social media data?  SONIC is the tool you need to raise visibility and understanding of social media across your business.

Pulsar SONIC image

Get the social media reporting you need

SONIC reports present you with the facts that you need to measure the effectiveness of your social media practices in a clear and engaging format, saving you valuable time in data prep and analysis. Set the pace of reporting, choose between different report lengths, and drive decision-making with minimum investment.

Three levels of reporting are available:

Executive Monthly snapshots to provide you with clear indicators and strategic, actionable insights to evaluate your performance on social media channels

Essential A report bundle delivering key metrics alongside qualitative deep-dives to give you a continuous, holistic view of your brand presence online

Elite An exploratory package giving you a detailed understanding of your online brand equity, based on crucial benchmark figures and contextual analysis.

Prices start from just £1800 per month and we can offer rapid turnaround to help you meet your deadlines – so get in touch with our lead analyst Giuseppe (Giuseppe.Polimeno@Facegroup.com) to find out more.

Custom options and full-service social media research is also available.  Learn more here, or contact Info@Facegroup.com to discuss how we can help you gain smart strategic insight from social data.


Why we’ve developed SONIC social media reports

At FACE and Pulsar, our mission is to make sense of social data so our customers can make faster, smarter decisions about their brands, campaigns and customers. We deliver this through the cutting edge data science, analytics and visualisations on our social media monitoring platform…

…But we know sometimes our clients might not have even have an hour or two spare to dig into their data every week. Lack of resource is  still a major barriers to businesses becoming more socially intelligent, resulting in many social media programs becoming siloed in the digital team and not reaching across the business.

The SONIC concept was developed as we wanted to deliver a cost-effective way of reporting social data insights. We identified that many businesses don’t require full strategic social insight or long reports. Sometimes you just need to measure what’s happening on your own channels, benchmark competitor performance, and check in on customer opinion.

Think of SONIC reports as your outsourced social media insight department. Our reporting can give your social media efforts greater visibility within your organisation, and they’ll give you the ability to  share bite sized social media insights on a large scale.


What makes our social media reporting different?

  1. Expert analysts. Our reports are written by experienced market researchers who also work on major global brands such as Tesco, Mazda and Telefonica
  2. Actionable insights. We don’t just report metrics: our analysts know how to dig insight out of social data and make clear recommendations about what this means for your brand and comms strategy
  3. Full global coverage. Pulsar can track social data in 170 languages and our trusted international network of analysts can deliver social media reporting in any European language plus Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and Korean
  4. Flexible report formats, not rigid, one size fits all templates. We can customise our reporting options to answer your specific business queries
  5. On-demand reporting options that allows you to design a support system that truly works in alignment with your business needs, practices and objectives.

Case study: how Mazda used SONIC reports to drive their social business strategy across Europe

Sonic client Mazda facebook page

CHALLENGE Mazda Motor Europe wanted to introduce social media listening as a new way to gather customer feedback and inform its first brand-led marketing campaign in Europe.

They came to Pulsar for our advanced analytics capacities and the fact our platform integrates social listening (Pulsar TRAC) and CRM (Pulsar FLOW) into a one stop social media management tool.

APPROACH A tailor-made set of SONIC reporting options available to the Central team to assess brand performance and measure the effectiveness of different marketing practices at both local and European level.

RESULTS SONIC reports are playing an instrumental role in raising awareness of social media across Mazda’s 12 key European markets. Mazda is now actively integrating social media in its Europewide marketing planning for 2015 and SONIC reports are being integrated with Mazda’s wider agency roster for consistent and long-lasting performance evaluation

Mazda say, “Since rolling out Pulsar across 12 European countries, we’ve been able to get truly insightful information from our customers in real time”


So that’s our SONIC reporting offer: providing you with the expert resource you need to measure the impact of your activities and prove the value of social media to key stakeholders.

If you want to find out more about SONIC reporting then contact our lead analyst, Giuseppe (Giuseppe.Polimeno@facegroup.co.uk) to build a package that’s right for you.

Social Intelligence: Not Just for Social Strategy

At FACE, we’re a hybrid group of “qualies” and data analysts who keep an open mind about what it means to be a researcher in 2014 – how research should happen and where the most valuable information comes from. We’re increasingly incorporating social media intelligence in our work, used either as a primary methodology or a layer of context in qualitative studies. However, we’re aware that some of our colleagues and clients are hesitant to consider social research methodologies.

I’ll get this out of the way upfront: social analysis is not the right fit for every research objective. Yet social is often dismissed simply because clients assume that anything social is not in their jurisdiction. That’s what I want to argue against in this blog post – instead, let’s start thinking of how social media can inform every dimension of brand planning.

Here are some familiar examples of the reasoning behind why social gets cut from budgets or even passed over in favor in of much more expensive approaches:

  • “This data may be interesting, but our brand doesn’t tweet, so social media stuff is not for us”
  • “Looks like you have strong social capabilities, but that’s not really relevant to my team; maybe I’ll put you in touch with our PR department.”
  • “We’ve got a dedicated team working on social marketing. They’re not set up for research, exactly, but I can have them pull any reports I need”

It seems there is a not uncommon perception that social data is exclusively for social strategy: analyze social conversation and sharing to become a better social conversationalist and sharer.

I disagree. In fact, the value of social understanding is far more expansive than that. Incorporating social insight is an exercise in lateral thinking that can make research more potent across the spectrum of strategic planning.

Stanley Pollitt's book 'Pollitt on Planning'

Stanley Pollitt, co-credited with starting the ad agency practice of account planning, had an important take on this theme long before digital social networks were in play:

“The account planner is that member of the agency’s team who is the expert, through background, training, experience, and attitudes, at working with information and getting it used – not just marketing research but all the information available to help solve a client’s advertising problems.”

This perspective is relevant beyond advertising problems. Research must be focused, but focus shouldn’t mean “same old” or one-dimensional, whether that’s traditional focus groups or brand trackers. If your strategic goals are ambitious, your research goals – and methodology – should be too. “…all the information available to help solve a client’s problems.

We’re now living in a world where the subjective emotion we share and the measurable data trail we leave behind are both signs of our humanity. So as a researcher you’ve got to love talking face-to-face with a consumer as well as studying how that person comes to life in a spreadsheet.

Social is a unique stream of information and is there, as Pollitt would suggest, “to get used.” Social data is exciting in that it’s vast, readily available, and relatively cost effective to access. Moreover, social conversation is generally unprompted – a chance to throw away the discussion guide and purely listen. What you’ll hear will inform far more than how to write your next tweet.

Beyond social marketing strategy, here are several thought-starters for how to get smart from social insight and use it across your brand or business, not just for social media strategy.

1. Audience Profiling

  • Segment social users talking about a brand  or topic to learn more about existing customers – or discover potential new target audiences
  • Improve recruitment for subsequent research, e.g. build a smarter screener based on fresh insight into demographic and lifestyle parameters

2. Advertising effectiveness measurement

  • Optimize media spend by detecting regions of brand interest before messaging is in-market
  • Track impact of online or offline advertising by region, based on social reaction (either organic reactions or in response to a call to action, such as a promoted hashtag)
  • Gauge performance of local activations, e.g. in-store events or franchise promotions
  • Assess PR activity such as news editorial coverage and native advertising
Pulsar location map - US by state

Pulsar location maps can show where people are talking about your brand, stores or advertising

3. Understand your online sales funnel

  • Measure links shared to Ecommerce properties to understand where consumers are talking about buying your products or competitors and the category at large
Pulsar most shared Media visualisation  by domain

Pulsar’s Media visualisations analyse the links being shared within a topic of discussion

4. Design Inspiration for products & services

  • Identify consumer-generated content and use it as stimulus for brainstorming for new product development, creative production, packaging design and more
  • Gather unmoderated feedback on a purchase journey or product experience to inform future UX design

Social media allows real-time customer journey feedback

These four options are just a start: there are many other ways to get more creative and more analytical with social data. Studying social conversation provides a window in to consumer mindset and behavior, not just a view of popular chatter. It’s helpful to think about social media by breaking it down to its basics: networks of people sharing opinions, speculating about the future, and reviewing experiences. In that lies true insight for business problems, so there’s no use in being anti-social!

For more ideas for leveraging social data, see Fran D’Orazio’s Future of Social Media research blog post.

Marc Geffen is based in our US office. If you want to discuss how he can help your business in the New Year then send him an email: marc.geffen@facegroup.com