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  • 18 May 2022 3:05 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    New article about the state of social media listening. 

    Source: Social Media Today

    By Andrew Hutchinson

    Content and Social Media Manager

    One of the most significant, yet often overlooked benefits of social media marketing is the capacity to tune in, and get a feel for what people are saying about your brand, as well as your competitors, in order to formulate a more strategic, targeted marketing program.

    By tuning into what people are posting online, you can get a better grasp on key opportunities, and flaws in your branding, and much of this insight is available for free, if you know how to get it. Which is often a key stumbling block for brands, and as we found in our first research report of the year, in partnership with Meltwater. According to the responses, while most businesses do have an established approach to social media monitoring, not all of them feel like they’re maximizing their opportunities on this front.

    We gathered feedback from more than 650 professionals, from a range of industries, in order to glean more insight into the current state of social listening, and how brands can improve their process.

    This week, we’ll publish summary reports of our key findings, while you can download the full report here right now (with email sign-up).

    Part I: Current State

    Given the various benefits that can be gleaned from social listening, it makes sense that most brands are now on board, and now have a process, in some form, of tuning into social media discussion.

    According to our survey responses, almost 61% of businesses now have a social listening system in place, and are monitoring for keyword mentions.

    State of Social Media Monitoring Survey

    More than that, the majority of respondents also see social listening as a highly valuable process, with more than 82% now viewing it as a key planning element.

    State of social listening survey

    This is a positive sign, underling the evolving maturity of the social media marketing space. What was once considered an add-on to social ads, or an expanded element of social media marketing, is now seen as a critical information source for most brands.

    Which it should be – after all, social media is effectively the biggest focus group in history, and it’s always running, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, giving you access to constant feedback about your brand and sector.

    In terms of what, specifically, brands are tuning into on social, respondents indicated that ‘Brand Sentiment and Reputation Management’ is their biggest focus, followed by ‘Brand Awareness’.

    Social media monitoring survey

    Those two are fairly closely aligned, but one is more general mention (brand awareness), while the other is specifically focused on what’s being said, and the sentiment around brands and products.

    Sentiment is obviously a more difficult aspect, because binary computer systems can’t necessarily be relied upon to detect sentiment in online mentions. Sarcasm, for example, can be increasingly difficult for a computer to detect, which generally means that it takes more manual time and effort to extract good information in this respect.

    As you can see in the above chart, many brands are also now using social listening to track industry trends as well, while crisis management, competitive analysis and campaign analysis were lesser considerations, based on responses.

    That points to missed opportunities – but then again, it also likely points to the key limitation for most, being time, and the capacity to be able to track and sort through the masses of data to get to the most important notes.

    Which is also highlighted in our responses:

    Social media monitoring survey report

    The two biggest impediments to effective social listening are ‘Time’ and ‘Employee bandwidth’, highlighting the biggest challenge in effective monitoring. It would seem that the consensus is that social listening is indeed highly valuable, but not all businesses feel that they’re able to get the most out of it, due to cost and time restrictions.

    Which makes sense. With billions of keywords being posted in social media apps every day, sifting them down to the most valuable mentions does indeed take time, either to develop a better automated process to alert you to the right posts that require action, or manually review mentions as they come through. That’s time that most business owners simply don’t have, especially SMBs, which points to the need for improved, simplified automatic solutions, or alternative processes that can streamline information gathering from social chatter.

    There are ways this can be achieved, but again, much of this takes an investment of time to understand how Boolean search strings work, or what qualifiers and options each platform provides for filtering mentions.

    Which clearly many businesses feel that they simply don’t have a handle on:

    Social Media Monitoring survey report

    Over a decade in, there are still opportunities for significant refinements in social media monitoring tools, and increased education in the field. Some of this is a challenge because it’s not simple, there are no easy ways to educate people on the complexities of digital monitoring, but even so, the platforms can be improved to simplify the process.

    Of course, such refinement also comes with a level of risk in missing important mentions as a result. But the responses here show that while most brands do see the value of social media monitoring, the key challenge still lies in time investment, an element that requires more focus.

    – Andrew Hutchinson @adhutchinson

  • 4 Apr 2022 1:28 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    For anyone who has worked in social media marketing or is currently in that role, this is an excellent article. Facebook targeting - how good is it?

    Read this article published in Social Media Today - 

    By Andrew Hutchinson

    Content and Social Media Manager

    So how accurate are Facebook’s ad targeting options anyway?

    The platform has made headlines in recent years over its intricate audience targeting process, which learns about your traits and interests based on in-app activity, then funnels that info into its ad targeting engine, enabling brands to present their offers to the most engaged, receptive audience through its various display options.

    Political activists have reportedly used this to sway voter opinions, brands have been able to target users based on things that they may not even realize that they’re interested in themselves as yet. Some studies have even suggested that Facebook knows more about you than friends or family - but in reality, what’s the actual accuracy rate of Facebook’s ad targeting options, and what are the implications of false positives on ad spend?

    That’s what a team from North Carolina State University sought to find out, with a new study that examined the specific performance of Facebook’s interest tracking, and how it allocates behaviors and topics to each user.

    Their topline finding – around 30% of Facebook’s inferred interests are inaccurate or irrelevant, which could have significant implications for ad spend.

    As explained in the study:

    “To obtain insights into how Facebook generates interests from a user’s Facebook activities, we performed controlled experiments by creating new accounts and systematically executing numerous planned activities. We found 33.22% of the inferred interests were inaccurate or irrelevant. To understand if our findings hold for a large and diverse sample, we conducted a user study where we recruited 146 participants (through Amazon Mechanical Turk) from different regions of the world to evaluate the accuracy of interests inferred by Facebook. We developed a browser extension to extract data from their own Facebook accounts and ask questions based on such data. Our participants reported a similar range (29%) of inaccuracy as observed in our controlled experiments.”

    It is worth noting that this is a relatively small-scale study pool – Facebook has more than 2.9 billion monthly active users, so a group of 146 test subjects is only a fractional element.

    But it’s process-focused the results likely hold nonetheless – as noted here, in the first element, the researchers conducted contained testing around how Facebook attributes interests based on activity, with the experimental profiles starting from blank, meaning they had no specific interests attached to begin with.

    “Researchers created 14 new user accounts on Facebook. Researchers controlled the demographic data and behavior of each account, and tracked the list of interests that Facebook generated for each account. This experiment allowed us to see which activities were associated with Facebook inferring an interest, and the key finding here is that Facebook takes an aggressive approach to interest inference - even something as simple as scrolling through a page led to Facebook determining that a user has an interest in that subject.”

    Of course, everyone knows that Facebook is tracking everything that you do in the app, but based on this study, even the smallest action can cause an inference in your ad targeting profile, which can lead to inaccurate targeting.

    The researchers also note that Facebook’s system often doesn’t distinguish between positive and negative interactions, which can also lead to inaccuracies.

    “For instance, we commented negatively on a Harry Potter page and received interests in Harry Potter and Daniel Radcliffe (the lead actor in the Harry Potter movies).”

    The study also showed that, at times, Facebook’s system will incorrectly attribute entities:

    “For example, upon visiting the Apple (Tech company) page, Apple (fruit) was inferred as an interest.”

    There would be varying degrees of errors within this type of matching, and these are just some examples of how your interests are sometimes misattributed in the app – which is probably not overly surprising, but the scale of inaccurate results is worthy of note.

    Could this be because of Apple’s ATT update?

    It’s possible that, due to Facebook losing data insight, as more users cut it off from tracking on iOS as a result of Apple’s ATT prompts, that Facebook is now putting more emphasis on in-app signals to fuel its audience segmentation instead. We don’t have comparative data on this, as the majority of this study was conducted after the implementation of Apple’s ATT alerts (in April 2021), but that could be another element at play, which could skew Facebook’s tracking.

    But either way, it’s an interesting consideration. Up till now, Facebook’s data-gathering machine has been viewed as the most comprehensive tracking system ever created, and a powerful audience targeting engine. But if it’s not accurate 1/3 of the time, that’s a concern, which could reduce advertising performance.

    So what do you do about it? Well, as an advertiser, there’s not much that you can do.

    Using Lookalike Audiences and similar matching should improve accuracy, based on a range of factors, as opposed to singular topic matching - but really, you’re putting trust in Facebook’s systems to drive the best results, which means that if there are errors in attribution, that will impact your performance.

    Meta is always working to improve its systems in this respect, and more recent feedback has been that Facebook ad targeting and performance is improving, so it could also be that these errors are being ironed out over time. But it really comes down to tracking your ad performance, and refining based on the results that you see. Facebook ads require a learning phase to maximize performance, and you would hope, within that, that it’s also weeding out false positives like this.

    But it’s an interesting study either way, which could provide additional insight into your campaign performance.

    You can read the full study and summary here, while you can check out what Facebook thinks your interests are here.

    Follow Andrew Hutchinson on Twitter

  • 11 Oct 2021 8:38 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Some great resources mentioned here for social media monitoring that doesn't break the bank. 


    OCTOBER 9, 2021

    Why is it so important to stay on top of trending content? Simple – it gives you the upper hand when you’re trying to get people’s attention.

    People are more likely to be engaged with your content and regularly follow you if you’re relevant, partaking in popular trends, talking their language and sharing content that they care about. This is
    particularly important when we realise that people have short attention spans and viral trends can be over almost as fast as they start, so time is of the essence.

    Harnessing what’s trending is a powerful way to ramp up your digital marketing strategy so here are five ways that you can find trending content and never miss an opportunity.

    BuzzFeed provides a great window into popular culture, spanning social news, entertainment and everything in between. While it may not be for everyone, there’s no denying that it offers a pulse into what’s hot and what’s not. The fact that they have a ‘Trending’ page means you can identify, at a glance, what’s currently popular on social media.

    Reddit offers pretty much anything for anyone and is known for having very active users who don’t shy away from having heated debates on pretty much any topic under the sun. Often referred to as the “front page of the internet”, it offers a world of inspiration for your latest content.

    Reddit too has its own version of trending topics, and you can dig deeper by going into communities that are of interest, or even check what is trending at that exact moment. It offers a great snapshot of what’s popular in real-time.

    An oldie but a goodie, Twitter remains one of the top five ways to not only break news but also to find out what’s trending. The use of hashtags makes it incredibly easy to figure out what people
    are talking about. Whether it’s political, social or cultural, there will be a twitter handle for it.

    Moreover, Twitter’s trending topics are based mainly on its algorithm, which figures out what is popular and shares it. If you’re facing a writer’s block, you can always turn to Twitter’s trending topics for some inspiration.

    Google Trends
    Google Trends is the holy grail of monitoring trends in Google searches. It’s a fast way to see the popularity of a keyword, relative to overall search volume. The great thing is that it lists all the popular stories online, in real-time. You can also explore different genres of topics or browse what the world is reading.

    Many people may not know about Keyhole, but it’s a useful tool for finding trending content, because it allows you to track hashtags on social  media, including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Relatively simple to use, it’s very similar to Google alerts, except that it allows you to monitor social media for key words.

    The important thing is that you can set an alert for a certain topic or keyword and monitor it in real-time.

    Zaib Shadani is a PR consultant and digital marketing strategist at Shadani Consulting

  • 30 Jul 2021 11:22 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    by Ashley Cooksley , Elizabeth Koenig ,

    July, 29,2021 - 

    It may be hard to believe it’s a thing, but World Emoji Day was “celebrated” (is that the right word for it?) on July 17. Still, for anyone over the age of 40 or so, the fact that this rudimentary, sometimes confounding, symbol language -- started in Japan in 1999 -- has its own day is enough to trigger a flurry of eye-roll emojis.

    But emojis are serious business in 2021, and marketers need to be aware of what these seemingly innocent images hiding inside our phone’s keyboard actually mean -- and how context fits into that understanding.

    That was never more apparent than recently in the U.K. when, following England’s football team losing the EURO championship, a wave of disgusting racist epithets were posted on the social media accounts of three Black English players: Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.

    Accompanying the awful hate speech were repeated uses of the monkey and banana emojis. The abuse was so bad that the term “Saka’s Instagram” began trending on Twitter as commentary escalated about people being so openly racist.

    There have been calls to ban the monkey emoji for years. The bottom line is, emoji meanings vary, and marketers and brands’ social media managers need to exercise caution with them.

    Emojis are not just happy or sad faces or fruits and vegetables. Today, they contribute to conversations in different ways. Symbolically, they communicate identity by drawing from old symbolism -- like the rose emoji, which is tied to antiauthoritarian labor movements going back to the 18th century. More notoriously, we all now know that that frog emoji known as “Pepe” represents a lot more than just a frog since being adopted by the alt right in the U.S.

    Moreover, emojis today can signal particular subcultures, like the ape emoji (a reference to a meme taken from the movie “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) signifying WallStreetBets, a subculture of investors that played a role in the recent overvaluing of stocks for companies like GameStop. Similarly, a baseball cap emoji is a new iteration of a community-specific term in hip hop that means “lie” or “BS.”

    Language is always changing to adapt to cultural shifts. Merriam Webster adds many new words to the dictionary every year. Since emojis are also a language, meanings change over time and new emoji are added to reflect changes in culture as well.

    For example, the popular “crying/laughing” emoji has been replaced by Gen-Zers with a skull emoji or “I’m dead” as a substitute. The two fingers touching emoji is used to show feeling shy, or timid. And the brain emoji -- well, let’s just say it has nothing to do with intelligence (on platforms like TikTok, this emoji represents "giving head.")

    Brands need to be aware of these shifts in emoji use to better understand what is being said about their brand and products. Moreover, if brands are looking to create a credible voice online, they need to understand the context surrounding emojis. After all, it’s possible that baseball cap emoji may just be referring to your favorite American pastime.

  • 29 Jun 2021 3:27 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Great when we are able to use social media insights to better understand patient experiences. Managed Markets Network

    An analysis of social media posts provides insight into patient experiences of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and the therapies that treat it.

    Analyzing patient-reported information shared on social media by patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) allowed researchers to gain insight into patient experiences on novel therapies that improve treatment of the disease but cause substantial treatment-related impacts on health-related quality of life (HRQOL).

    The results were presented at the European Hematology Association 2021 Virtual Congress.

    “Patient-reported information (PRI) shared on social media provides a distinct opportunity to understand patients’ perspectives outside the formal research context,” the authors explained.

    They collected data from YouTube and 3 patient advocacy websites—Patient Power, The Patient Story, and Leukaemia Care—as well as reviewed video footage and discussion blogs. They extracted data from social media posts, including demographic information and accompanying disease information.

    The investigators assessed 935 social media posts, but ultimately included just 63 posts (40 videos, 5 comments, and 18 blog posts) from 41 unique contributors in the final review. Prior to ALL treatment, the symptoms the individuals most frequently discussed were fatigue (48.8%), shortness of breath (31.7%), and bruising (29.3%).

    They also reported the following HRQOL impacts of ALL and its treatment:

    Physical limitations (19.5%), including mobility, fine motor functioning, and lifting/carrying

    Daily life (26.8%), including self-care, daily tasks, and leisure activities/hobbies

    Work (39.0%), including the ability to keep employment, change in career path, and financial impact

    Social functioning (4.9%), including changes to existing relationships and the ability to look after children

    Psychological/emotional impact (61.0%), including shock, feat of the future, depression, anxiety, self-image, anger/frustration, and loneliness

    Treatment of adverse effects, such as neutropenia, change in taste, and nausea, were associated with changes in patients’ eating habits and weight loss.

    The majority (75.6%) of patients had self-reported being treated with chemotherapy, followed by bone marrow transplant (26.8%), radiation therapy (12.2%), chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (12.2%), stem cell transplant (12.2%), immunotherapy (9.8%), steroid treatment (9.8%), blood transfusion (2.4%), and umbilical cord blood transplant (2.4%).

    Overall, approximately half (48.8%) reported experience with multiple treatment types. These treatments were associated with long-lasting adverse effects such as fatigue (26.8%), hair loss (27.8%), and nausea (22.0%).

    “ALL symptoms primarily affected patients’ physical functioning, activities of daily living, and ability to work, while treatment-related symptoms and impacts primarily affected patients’ emotional well-being,” the researchers noted.


    Morrison R, Sikirica S, Crawford R, et al. The patient experience of acute lymphoblastic leukemia and its treatment: a social media review. Presented at: EHA2021 Virtual; June 9-17, 2021. Poster EP370.

  • 26 Apr 2021 11:34 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Posted on April 26, 2021 by eChatter

    By: Amanda Brown

    social media

    Apps on the Rise

    Since COVID-19 we have seen an immeasurable social media shift with so many people across the globe staying home. This has drastically impacted ecommerce and their shopping in general. Due to these changes, spending and investing in apps has significantly increased.

    According to AppAnnie,“Global spend on apps surged by 40% in a year, with $32 billion spent on in-app purchases across iOS and Google Play globally in Q1 2021. It’s the biggest quarter since records began – and the figure is 40% up on the same quarter for 2020.”

    This trend will continue, adapting to consumer behaviors within the market. So, what does this mean for you as an investigator? You are going to want to stay up to date on apps that are beginning to trend and the shift in consumer behavior will be a good cross reference for this.

    So, what are some apps that are taking off you ask? Let’s unpack the significance of a few of them.

    Clubhouse & It’s New Rival, Live Audio Rooms

    While TikTok still reigns supreme in top downloadable apps, Clubhouse is taking the world by storm with over 6 million active users to date. At first, this unique platform was being used by developers in Silicon Valley, then inevitably hit mainstream. Clubhouse is an audio-based concept with no video or text present. Someone can host a chat in a room with a few individuals to thousands of people. The catch? You must be invited by someone to join in all the Clubhouse fun. Currently, you can sign up on a wait list for Clubhouse access. Exclusivity is playing a big part in all the hype over this app. So much so that Mark Zuckerberg has decided to compete.

    Live Audio Rooms is launching this summer and Mark Zuckerberg’s company announced products that will have an emphasis on voice content over images, video, and texts. This will start off with only a few individuals allowed in, another example of exclusivity, and then will release to everyone a few months after. Eventually this summer we should see this open to the public and through Messenger.

    The Competition Gets Even More Real

    If you thought Mark Zuckerberg was just feeling competitive by adding Live Audio Rooms, think again. He is not only taking on this endeavor but a few other apps that have the same audio-chat feature. Creating audio suites is what he believes is the future of virtual networking

    “We think that audio is […] going to be a first-class medium and there are all these difference products to be built across the whole spectrum,” Zuckerberg in an audio interview with tech journalist Casey Newton on Discord.

    What’s Coming


    A social audio app that’s entire emphasis is on adding tone to a quote, poem, or joke that you have posted. Writing something out is not enough when it comes to communicating online. Soundbites was created because you can miss sarcasm and inflection just by writing something. Being able to add your tone and voice allows the reader to understand you fully.

    Facebook Podcasts:

    According to Facebook’s post, more than 170 million Facebook users already follow and interact with podcast pages and groups on the platform. Therefore, there is no denying an investment into a more streamline podcast interaction is in Facebook’s future. They are working on allowing podcasts to be streamed directly from their platform. Allowing users to not only listen to their favorite podcast more easily, but to also like, engage, and comment with podcast creators.


    Although considered another competitor to Clubhouse this app is slightly different. Also, slightly different than Live Audio Rooms. Hotline is aimed at “knowledge experts”, according to a Facebook spokeswoman. Experts in their field such as healthcare, or finance. Users will be able to engage and chat with these specialists. Hosting an event through Hotline can be recorded and currently there is not an audience size limit. More development is in progress with this app. As to how hosts would make money off this has yet to be determined.

    Audio Creation:

    Facebook is even more inventive with new concepts like voice morphing technologies, noise cancellation features, and speech-to-text concepts that will allow users to build upon their creativity when posting text. According to, if you are on a busy street corner recording yourself, a noise cancellation feature will allow you to come across clearly to your audience and cancel that background noise for you.

    Sound Collection:

    This is a collection of sound effects and song clips that a user can scroll through that will take their content to the next level. Allowing users to layer their content with new features is the goal of this new concept.

    Is There an End in Sight?

    Unfortunately, the answer to this is no, but the good news is we are here to stay up on all these changes for you. With our research background, it is in our nature to constantly be on the lookout for what is up and coming. To test out and find new OSINT skills to tackle these new technology advances. Sign up for your Newsletter for all the exclusive details.

  • 18 Feb 2021 9:32 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Published in Quirk's Magazine Jan.Feb/2021

    Rodolphe Barrere, Co-Founder and CEO, Potloc 

    With 3.96 billion people using social media today, sampling on social channels is the next research frontier

    According to Hootsuite’s latest Digital Statshot Report, more than half of the world’s population is now on social media. Not ever in human history have we had such vast access to information, people, news and interconnectivity. The implications of this are numerous in terms of human communication, how people interact with brands and businesses worldwide and how companies extract consumers’ insights. 

    When I started building Potloc in 2014, I recognized the power social media had to gather people’s thoughts about what was going on in their immediate vicinity. We helped local businesses identify what offering, location and combination of customer experiences would appeal to their trade area. It didn’t take us long to realize we were sitting on a real gold mine of insights. The samples we were getting through social channels were on point, with relevant respondents answering our surveys with no other incentive than their desire to be part of the conversation. Through testing and trying different approaches, we soon discovered that we could leverage the targeting capabilities social platforms offer to reach any person with a social account, anywhere in the world. This realization allowed us to scale our operation and offer our services anywhere you could find someone “thumbing-up” through their social feed. This approach might seem obvious but the reality is that sampling in social media as a methodology has been largely overlooked as a great way to reach niche audiences and fresh respondents on a global scale.

    The medium is the message

    The key to nailing social sampling boils down to really understanding the medium. Social channels’ dynamics are quite different from those of very controlled environments like focus groups, online panels or even face-to-face interviews. To gain insights from social users, you need to understand how the social ecosystem works: people use social media mostly when they have downtime – moments of free time they dedicate to browsing their feeds, a golden opportunity to interact with them. On average, the world’s internet users spend two hours and 24 minutes using social networks across all devices each day, accounting for more than one-third of our total internet time. “Intercepting” them during this time increases their chances of taking a survey and focusing on expressing their opinions. Non-intrusive research and how companies approach potential respondents also plays an essential role in conducting successful sampling. The messaging not only needs to be appealing to them but also relevant and at the right time. After more than seven years of developing our expertise in social media sampling and the technology that enables it, we know how to increase the relevancy factor. Here are my thoughts:

    Location, location, location

    Social media is the perfect place to reach respondents, no matter the incidence rate or the quotas you have set. The beauty of targeting people via social networks is that you can reach them at a broad location level (country, state, zip code), down to a half-mile radius. Through geotargeting or more conventional location-based targeting, businesses can reach highly relevant audiences. People who live, work, study or just transit through the targeted area are real-life respondents that have a treasure trove of insights to share, from in-store CX to people’s experience attending an event or having seen a particular billboard at a specific location. The possibilities are endless.

    The right targeting can get you niche audiences with low incidence rates

    Again, the nature of social networks is that people are there to share. Think about it – when you browse through your feed on any of these networks, you are already interacting with brands and businesses to a certain degree. This gives researchers unprecedented opportunities to access the largest consumer group globally and extract insights directly from them. The essential advantage here is the ability to target a specific population, not only by geographical area, as I mentioned before, but also by age, gender, interests, language, profession, income, etc. We’ve worked for the largest consulting firms globally, like Bain & Company, BCG and EY, to help them reach very niche and specific audiences for their clients, where panels tend to struggle. Hitting the bull’s-eye with targeting on social guarantees a more representative, diverse and genuine sample of the broader population, with fresh respondents that reflect real people living in the real world.

    The biases to keep in mind

    Just like any other methodology, we deal with some biases that come with social sampling. We have identified four of these as well as ways to tackle them:

    1. Coverage bias: For targeting consumers on social networks, they need to meet certain conditions. They must have access to the internet, have a social media account and be active users. This might show an under-representation of men and older people. However, older generations like Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation have adopted social platforms in great numbers. In the U.S. alone, 72% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 are on Facebook and 62% of “online seniors” aged above 65 are also there.
    2. Ad platforms’ algorithm bias: Taking Facebook as an example, its advertising algorithm is set up to minimize cost-per-click. This means it pushes survey ads primarily to the least-expensive audiences (under-representing the population). Setting up quotas to balance the sample becomes essential to counter this bias, especially when it comes to more expensive-to-reach people, like men and the elderly.
    3. Cognitive load bias: Answering an online survey is demanding from a cognitive standpoint, so some people might find the task too difficult to complete, which gets exacerbated by the use of mobile devices. This might result in an under-representation of older people, less-educated or illiterate people or people of a low socioeconomic status.
    4. Self-selection bias: Unlike web panels, with social sampling we have to communicate on the survey subject. People who click on our ads are more inclined to provide answers about a specific topic. As we rarely offer any incentives to respondents, people who complete our surveys do it because it matters to them that their voice is heard. In my opinion, today it’s hard to say what is the lesser evil: having respondents naturally interested in the subject or respondents seeking incentives.

    Reaching the unreachable

    As we witness a new world order emerge as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, surveying people now comes with a set of limitations. Social distance and lockdowns are a no-go scenario for in-person or intercept interviews. People are spending more time than ever online and at home and a third of that time on social media. Again, social sampling here presents itself as a unique opportunity to reach people in impossible places and situations under these circumstances. At Potloc, we launched twin studies in Canada and France about what frontline health workers saw in the trenches against the virus. We reached them in emergency rooms, hospitals, nursing homes and places no one else could enter, at a time where it seemed impossible to get their insights – and with great success. Niche and low-incidence populations are out there, browsing their social media feeds. We just need to find them and offer them the chance to express their opinions.

    Interested in learning more about social sampling and how we run respondent acquisition at Potloc? Check out our public studies at or better yet, e-mail us today to schedule a discussion with one of our research experts:

  • 9 Jan 2021 6:02 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Using data from patients’ Facebook pages, a machine learning algorithm accurately predicted which individuals would go on to develop schizophrenia and mood disorders.

    Machine learning facebook data offer insight into schizophrenia

    Source: Getty Images

     Share on Twitter 

     By Jessica Kent

    January 07, 2021 - Data from sites like Facebook and Twitter can reveal a lot about someone’s behavioral health. Past studies have shown that social media activity can predict a person’s demographic characteristics, substance use, and religious and political views.

    Now, researchers have applied machine learning tools to individuals’ Facebook pages in order to determine who would eventually develop schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) and mood disorders – more than a year before the patient’s first hospitalization and official diagnosis.

    In a new study published in Nature Partner Journals Schizophrenia, the team noted that psychiatric symptoms often emerge during adolescence or early adulthood and can interfere with the establishment of healthy social and educational foundations.

    While early intervention efforts can improve outcomes for psychiatric patients, patients’ symptoms often go untreated for months or years before receiving clinical attention. Mental health professionals are looking for new ways to objectively identify early warning signs of emerging psychiatric symptoms to improve early intervention strategies.

    To date, most studies focusing on the associations between social media activity and psychiatric diagnoses relied on assumptions about clinical and diagnostic status. In this study, the team set out to use real patient data with clinically confirmed and validated psychiatric diagnoses to develop machine learning algorithms – one of the first research efforts to do so.

    Researchers analyzed Facebook data 18 months prior to the first psychiatric hospitalization. The group extracted 3,404,959 Facebook messages and 142,390 images across 223 consented participants, with the aim of identifying characteristics that distinguished participants with SSD and mood disorders from healthy individuals.

    The results showed that people with SSD and mood disorders were more likely to use swear words than healthy participants. Individuals with SSD were also more likely to use perception words – like feel, see, and hear – than those with mood disorders and healthy people. Participants with mood disorders used more words related to blood, pain, and other biological processes.

    Additionally, researchers found that the closer participants with SSD came to hospitalization, the more punctuation they used compared to healthy people, while those with mood disorders increased their use of negative emotion words.

    The team also found patterns in image use among study participants: The height and width of images posted by individuals with SSD and mood disorders were smaller than those posted by healthy people, and those with mood disorders posted photos that contained more blues and less yellows.

    The findings demonstrated the ability of machine learning algorithms to identify those with SSD and mood disorders using Facebook activity alone.

    “There is great promise in the current research regarding the relationship between social media activity and behavioral health, and our results published with IBM Research today demonstrate that machine learning algorithms are capable of identifying signals associated with mental illness, well over a year in advance of the first psychiatric hospitalization,” said Michael Birnbaum, MD, assistant professor at Feinstein Institutes’ Institute of Behavioral Science.

    “We have the potential to thoughtfully bring psychiatry into the modern, digital age by integrating these data into the field.”

    Researchers pointed out that social media data, combined with AI and machine learning tools, could play a significant role in mental healthcare in the future.

    “While Facebook alone is not meant to diagnose psychiatric conditions or to replace the critical role of a clinician in psychiatric assessment, our results suggest that social media data could potentially be used in conjunction with clinician information to support clinical decision-making,” researchers stated.

    “Much like an X-ray or blood test is used to inform health status, Facebook data, and the insights we gather, could one day serve to provide additional collateral, clinically meaningful patient information.”

    The study was limited in that some users were more active than others on Facebook, leaving researchers with varying degrees of data. The team also retrospectively collected Facebook archives to use for this analysis. In future work, researchers will need to assess how much data is needed to make a reliable clinical prediction, as well as prospectively monitor participants’ Facebook activity.

    This current study builds on the research team’s previous efforts to show the potential of examining social media and online activity for psychiatry. The group recently published a paper in which they analyzed over 400,000 search queries to identify differences in timing, frequency, and content of searches among individuals with SSD, mood disorders, and healthy people.

    Going forward, social media use could help mental health providers flag emerging disorders.

    “Early diagnosis of serious mental illness significantly improves long term outcomes and treatment responses,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes. “Dr. Birnbaum is pioneering social media and digital clinical strategies to detect illness at the critical early stages when treatments are most likely to be effective.”

  • 28 Dec 2020 5:54 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Quirks Media printed an article back in 2016 on this subject that was excellent! We reprinted it here because all the points discussed are still relevant today.

    David R. Morse is president and CEO of research firm New American Dimensions, Los Angeles. Karthik Praveen is co-founder of Consumer Inclusive, a Bangalore, India-based consulting firm.

    For years there was talk about the digital divide between Latino and white consumers. Not anymore.

    According to the Pew Research Center (Figure 1), the share of Latino adults who use the Internet was 84 percent in 2015, up 20 percentage points since 2009, narrowing the gap between Hispanics and whites to just 5 percent. Hispanics, says Nielsen, are among the most likely to own a smartphone, to live in a household without a landline and to access the Internet from a mobile device – nearly three-quarters of Latinos own smartphones, 10 percent higher than the U.S. average, and 10 million watch video on their mobile phones for an average of more than six hours per month.

    Impressive numbers, given that Hispanics now make up 17 percent of the U.S. population, a share that is expected to increase to 29 percent by 2060.

    When it comes to digital, Hispanics are not a segment to be ignored, and social media is no exception. EMarketer reports that in 2015, 76.6 percent of U.S. Hispanic Internet users accessed social networks, compared to 69.4 percent of overall U.S. Internet users. These numbers are projected to increase to 80 percent among Hispanics, compared to 72 percent for the general population.

    On Facebook, by far the most widely-used social media site, 73 percent of all Hispanic adult Internet users have a presence, compared to 71 percent of the total Internet-user population. The gap is even higher for Instagram; while 21 percent of Caucasian adult Internet users are users, 34 percent of all Latinos maintain a presence on the site. A quarter of Latinos use Twitter, compared to 21 percent of Caucasians.

    When it comes to language choice on social media, Hispanics are using both English and Spanish. According to E-consultancy, 33 percent preferred English, while 27 percent opt for Spanish; 40 percent used the two equally. But preference varied with the situation.

    Given the importance of social media for Hispanics, marketers need to keep an active watch on what Latinos are saying about their companies, their brands and the categories that they operate in.

    When doing social media listening with Latinos, the first challenge is to identify those who are posting in English. There is no perfect solution to this but we’ve found that using surname – and sometimes first name – derives a good representation. Second, for those using Spanish, we need to remove those living in Latin America. To do this, researchers should crawl social media sites with social media listening tools to identify IP addresses. We do this in order to ensure that we are only listening to conversations from the U.S.

    The next step is to sanitize the data, by identifying and removing spam, and cleanse the data by identifying and filtering out noise words. Finally, we analyze and tag all relevant social postings for patterns, qualitatively validate them and then bucket them into categories describing topics of discussion and sentiments.

    Social media conversations

    As a case study, we focused on the perceptions and attitudes about heart disease among U.S. Hispanics. We analyzed 9,382 social media conversations between November 2015 and January 2016. Our analysis focused on Twitter, blogs and forums; while heart disease was frequently discussed on Facebook, the majority of conversations were brand-related rather than our primary interest, the challenges and apprehensions people with heart disease encounter.

    When we dug deeply into social media conversations, we found there are that there was a lot of anxiety surrounding heart disease and no shortage of discussions surrounding proactive lifestyle change behavior by the segment. Close to 70 percent of the discussions centered on patients who have already suffered cardiac arrest.

    Both patients and caregivers discussed treatment options like angioplasty and the post-treatment lifestyle changes they underwent. Many were apprehensive about undergoing angioplasty and were looking for alternative treatment options. Many shared the lifestyle changes they underwent following a stroke, such as cycling, exercise and use of fish oil.
    Content sources

    While a third of analyzed social media content originated with patients (Figure 2), half of the discussions were posted by caregivers, relatives and friends, particularly in blogs, perhaps a reflection of the collective mind-set and strong bonds among Hispanics. Much of the content was emotional in nature, offering a telling and very human glimpse of the challenges patients and their loved ones encounter.

    Many patients discussed the symptoms that they suffered before experiencing a stroke, including tight chest, pain in arms and general body fatigue. Patients shared their story along with informative links about what one should do during a cardiac arrest and also lifestyle changes like not skipping breakfast; maintaining their blood glucose and blood pressure levels; weight management; etc. Most patients shared that they went through angioplasty after being diagnosed with cardiac disease.

    Caregivers shared stories of how their loved ones suffered from the condition and how they changed their lifestyle. Some shared that their loved ones became weak after suffering and going through treatment for cardiac related issues. Many inquired about alternate modes of treatment and the cost of treatment. Caregiver conversations that shared lifestyle changes were focused on convincing their loved ones to quit smoking, change the oils they use to cook and to not skip breakfast in order to avoid drops in blood glucose levels.

    When breaking down the different social media platforms, we found Twitter was mainly used to spread awareness about symptoms, treatment options and post-diagnosis care. Users shared links of health care professional and tips about what one should do if he or she suffers sudden cardiac arrest. Many tweets focused on skipping breakfast because of working multiple jobs. Other tweets centered on the cost of treatment.

    Blogs tended to focus on the personal experiences of themselves and their loved ones. Patients mainly described the process that they went through, beginning with the pre-diagnosis stage when they had symptoms like difficulty in breathing, tightness in the chest, etc. Caregivers gave detailed descriptions of how their loved ones had to go through lifestyle changes such as losing weight and changing food habits after suffering a stroke.

    Forums were a platform for expressing opinions and asking questions, including sharing the experiences of suffering from the disease as well as the kind of activities patients undertook because of having heart disease. There were many questions about alternative treatment options to angioplasty as well as the cost of treatment for patients without insurance. Forums such as were popular online choices for discussions. A frequent concern for users was that some Spanish forums were giving contradictory information regarding treatment.

    Tuning into the conversation

    While many major brands are engaged in social media listening, Hispanics are frequently overlooked, in part due to the challenges imposed by language. However, given the social nature of this consumer segment, social media listening offers an unprecedented opportunity to tune into the content of Hispanic conversations and gain access to a rich panoply of discussion. With a little subjective acumen, social media content can be bucketed and quantified, as well as analyzed for subtlety and nuance. Though it may not be able to provide all the answers, social media listening has its place in the toolbox of any marketer, particularly those looking for insights among Hispanic consumers.

  • 7 Dec 2020 7:12 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Social Media Today shares Snapchat's new Levi's partnership. 

    Could this help position Snapchat to lead the way on the next big eCommerce trend?

    This week, Snapchat has announced a new partnership with Levi's, which will enable users to dress up their Bitmoji avatars in classic Levi's outfits.

    Bitmoji x Levis

    As explained by Snap:

    "The Levi’s x Bitmoji collection features timeless Levi’s pieces including the 501 Original Fit Jeans, Trucker Jackets, and Western Shirts, all available in multiple washes. Snapchatters and Bitmoji users can choose between 12 curated Levi’s outfits, or they can customize their look further with billions of unique ways to style the classic pieces."

    Snapchat added the capability to dress up your Bitmoji character in different outfits last year, which has since lead to partnerships with Ralph Lauren and Jordan, among others in creating Bitmoji clothing options.

    Snapchat x Jordan

    Bitmoji characters are hugely popular in the app, with around 70% of Snapchat users engaging with the feature.

    Given this, the option to dress up your custom character in different items of clothing, further aligning it with your personal preferences, has also proven to be a hit - and while seeing your avatar dressed up in new fashion outfits isn't the same as trying those clothes on for yourself, it does help to further brand affiliation, and align consumers with a brand identity.

    But Snapchat's actually now able to go a step further - take a look at this tweet from Snapchat GM Matt McGowan.

    Now, with Snapchat's full-body tracking tools, users can create life-sized versions of their Bitmoji characters, which they can overlay onto real-world scenes. 

    It's not perfect - you can still see the person's real arms and legs overflowing slightly as they move. But it's another way to use Bitmoji characters, and Snap AR, to create a whole new experience. Which also helps to showcase the clothes that your Bitmoji is wearing, and could be a great way to increase brand awareness and connection.

    Like all social platforms, Snapchat has been looking to merge into eCommerce of late, as a means to maximize its revenue potential, and increase user engagement.

    Snap introduced its first 'shoppable' Snap Original shows back in June, and has been working with several brands on new eCommerce integrations, like scannable barcodes and logos and AR 'try on' options, like this integration with Gucci:

    Snapchat AR Try on

    With Facebook and Instagram now pushing their own eCommerce integrations, it makes sense for Snap to also follow suit, as those new activations will change consumer habits over time. Essentially, that means that consumers will eventually come to expect that they'll be able to buy whatever they see in the images and videos shared to their social feeds. The platforms that can best align with this will open up a range of new possibilities for their business tools.

    What's most interesting about Snap, however, is its focus on AR for such purpose, which is where many expect consumer attention to shift in the second half of 2021.

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