In the span of just a few years the amount of data available has skyrocketed. In theory this information boom is great for marketers and ethnographers alike, but it’s also made it increasingly difficult to generate relevant insights. By taking advantage of social networking data, however, researchers can get real-time feedback on virtually any topic imaginable.
Social data mining and its applications are poised to revolutionize everything from retail to national security, with the FBI recently issuing an RFI for a social media monitoring app. Unlike traditional focus groups, social data is for the most part unstructured and generated organically as people interact on the Internet. By analyzing this widely available and publicly accessible data, smart marketers can get a real-time look at the psychological motivations, attitudes and opinions that are held by their target consumer group.
“At a very basic level, ethnography is based on the concept that an individual goes out in the real world and, without influencing it, must figure out things about it… What’s incredible about Twitter, Facebook or Forums (and other digital sharing platforms) is that people say things about my subject without me asking anything,” said Chloé Roubert, Digital Anthropologist, Nurun Lab.
There are numerous tools available to help make sense of it all, including the TwitterCanvas and WeiboCanvas apps that were developed by the Nurun Lab. Using criteria such as keywords and attitude sentiments, the apps compile digital ethnographic data by isolating tweets that are relevant to the user’s search parameters and identifying associated topics. Tools such as these should not be reserved just for R&D as they can continue to generate useful insights towards content strategy, campaign execution and customer service initiatives.