May 17, 2023

Vox Pop: There's different kinds of social data out there, what sources are good for what problems we're solving?

Date & Time (GMT):
May 17, 2023 12:47 PM
Date & Time (EST):
May 17, 2023 12:47 PM

Social media data isn’t just one data source, it’s multiple sources. Sources where people behave differently and share information differently, but in many cases, social media data is seen as one source. We believe that you need to understand the data source you are working with. So, we asked our experts, about the different sources of data out there, and what data sources are good for what problems we’re solving. Here’s what they had to say....

Joe Colacurcio, VP Social Intelligence Analytics, Ipsos

As with any research design, with social data and data sources, it’s always critical to assess the objective and the outcome of the research that is required. That objective then determines the data sources that are most critical.

For example, if we’re after market research related insight to zero-in on consumer-generated discussions of unmet needs in a category, we always want to ensure that we have a robust repository of data from discussion forums. This is because social discussion forums allow for true back-and-forth conversations to evolve organically, among those who may seek or share advice based on experience.

However, if our intent is to evaluate the effectiveness of a campaign or product launch, we’ll need to ensure that we have holistic and relevant mentions from the social media channels themselves, where consumers most frequently will use hashtags, message sharing, likes, follow-up commentary, etc.

We can then align these social data findings to the broader measurement of the earned, owned, and paid digital content. Of course, the beauty of social data is that it can also be used to complement other data sources to provide additional breadth and depth of understanding, which is something we do regularly at Ipsos to shed further light from a consumer-driven insights perspective.

Gillian Murtagh, Senior Intelligence Strategist, Storyful

The scale of social media data ensures that at Storyful, we have access to a higher volume of insights than other forms of research. Our limitless data size allows us to deliver comprehensive analysis in a timely manner, through the careful and considered navigation of an ever-shifting information environment.

Before we decide on which data source is best for our analysis, however, we need to understand the kind of story that we are looking to tell. If we are looking to discern the intricacies of how an audience is thinking, mainstream social media platforms will provide the data input that we need. If we are looking to identify ongoing trends within a specific industry, data from digital media outlets will allow us to map them out. And if we need to rapidly identify the source of an unfolding digital crisis, our understanding of fringe networks will ensure that we can quickly pinpoint the origin of the issue, while also being able to monitor for further threats.

Storyful’s unique data access and proprietary tools and technology has ensured that we’re able to go deeper when analyzing data. By combining these assets with human intelligence, we are able to quickly cut through the noise to deliver unique and tailored insights for our clients.

Anton Bezkorovainyi, Head of Research, YouScan

Undoubtedly, while conducting social media research it is vital to focus on different data sources depending on the objectives. The best way is to start with something like an initial social media brand audit covering all relevant social and mass media (e.g. by countries of presence or audience language) in order to understand what's going on around a particular brand and its competitors in general.

Afterwards I would recommend narrowing down the scope of analyzed platforms, depending on the questions and audit results. The audit will show you who is talking and what they are saying about a brand on different social media platforms. In fact, the latter strongly depends on the industry and particular brand case, but we can still consider review sites and forums to be better data sources for gathering FMCG-industry consumer insights, Facebook for brand health tracking in most of the countries, and Instagram and YouTube for campaign analysis or influencers monitoring today.

However, all of that remains to be just a kind of assumption – audience behavior in social media will vary from case to case so you may find different data sources equally useful for solving the same problems and vice versa.  

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