Three Tips To Help You Use Social Intelligence To Guide Your Research

research using social intelligence

Jenny Force Jenny Force, VP of Marketing

We talk a lot at Sysomos about different ways that social intelligence can help you to understand your customers so that you can sell better to them, keep them as customers, create better products for them, create better content for them, and more. But sometimes you just need to learn more about a topic so that you can have a better understanding of it in general.

Today we’ve put together a short guide for how social intelligence can help you in general research.

Whether your company is thinking about making a new product for a new market or you’re an agency that is trying to learn more about a potential new client’s overall industry, doing research by using social intelligence can lead to amazing insights.

Below, we’ve assembled three tips to help you use social intelligence to guide your research.

Start Broad

When a subject matter is brand new to you the best thing you can do is to start learning about it from a high level. This is the simplest way to start learning about your topic because by starting broad you can find all of the smaller things that may surround your topic. This can be as simple as using a social intelligence research tool, like Sysomos MAP, and typing in a word or a few words that sum up the category you want to look into. For the rest of this post, we’ll use the example of “electric cars” to show you what we mean.

Social Activity Around "Electric Cars" In The Past 6 Months

By just entering the term “electric cars” within the timeframe of the past 6 months we now have over 219,000 social conversations across multiple channels that we can start to learn from. While it’s great that we now have this information, 219,000 items may be a bit much for anyone to read through everything and learn it all, but thankfully there are more social intelligence tools inside Sysomos that can help us figure out where our research needs to go.

One of the best places to start is with text analytics tools. The great thing about text analytics is it will quickly scan through all of those conversations for you and pull out the words that occurring most frequently so that you easily see what’s helping to drive the conversation around your tool. This will help you to see what people are already talking about most when it comes to the subject you’re trying to research.

Overall Word Cloud Around Electric Cars

You should also remember though that different areas of social media may be talking about things differently than other areas. While the word cloud image above is looking at all of the conversations we found, you can also get more specific by looking at how different channels talk about the same topic. Below is a word cloud of just how online news outlets are talking about electric cars. You can notice that while some of the same words are showing in both of our word clouds, there are some differences. By noticing these differences we can see that certain conversations may be specific to certain areas of social media, which will help to guide us later on.

Word Cloud Around Electric Cars From Online News Outlets

Narrow Down On Specific Topics

Now that we’ve found some words that are standing out to us about electric cars, we can narrow our research down a bit more to figure out why these topics are helping to drive the conversation. By narrowing down on more specific topics it will allow you to research your topic from a variety of different angles.

In the overall word cloud above, one word that stands out is “battery.” This means that there is probably a lot of talk happening around electric car batteries and this might be a subject that we should explore more in depth. We can now take our original search and add the word “battery” to it to learn what people are saying about electric car batteries.

Search For "Electric Cars" And Battery

Again, we still have a large number of social conversations that have come up around our narrowed down topic, so we should turn to text analytics to help us figure out what people are saying about electric car batteries. By looking at text analytics here we can learn what the main issues around electric car batteries are. If we find something of significant interest here, like “solar” in the example buzzgraph below, we can then add that word to our search and focus more on an even more narrow topic. This process can be repeated as many times as you like until you think you know enough detail around all the little subjects surrounding your broader topic of interest.

Buzzgraph Around Electric Car Batteries

Something else that might be of interest beyond just what is driving the conversation might be how people actually feel about these topics that we’re looking into. This is where automated sentiment can come into play. By still looking at our example of what people have been saying specifically about electric car batteries, we can also look at how they feel about them. Below we can see that electric car batteries have an overall sentiment rating of 87% favorable telling us that people generally have good thoughts them.

Sentiment Around Electric Car Batteries

Find Out Who Drives The Conversation And Talk To Them

It’s great that we’ve been able to find out what the topics are that have been driving conversation around research topic, but now it may be time to talk to some actual subject matter experts. Social intelligence can also help us to figure out who the best people to talk to about this are as well.

You can start by looking for the people or publications that talk about the subject you’re interested in the most. Below we’ve pulled a list of the top six Twitter accounts that have mentioned “electric cars” the most in the past six months. Because they have mentioned our research subject the most, we can assume that have an interest in the topic and might be people worth reaching out to to ask questions around their thoughts and understanding of electric cars.

Twitter Accounts Mentioning Electric Cars The Most

But just because they mention our research topic the most may not make them the best subject matter experts. That’s why we can also look for other people via tools that help us to understand those that have influence over the subject.

Using the Communities tool in Sysomos MAP we can locate different groups of people that are influential on the subject, and each group will have it’s own reason for it’s expertise. Below we can see a community cloud made up of many different communities that are all talking about electric cars. For example, the blue community is made of publications, mainly tech focused, that talk a lot about electric cars.

This may mean that there are some reporters that are interested in the subject that we may want to talk to. At the same time, the orange group is made up people associated with making electric cars. These people are directly involved in the production of these cars, so they will likely have in-depth knowledge about the subject and would likely be great people to learn more from. The red community, however, seems to talk a lot about clean energy and the environment when they talk about electric cars. This is one specific subject around our greater topic, but probably an important one, so these may be another group of people you may want to reach out to.

Communities of Influence Around Electric Cars

Using social intelligence to research a topic can really help you as it will help you to know what is really important about a topic rather trying to just read through everything you can find about your broad topic on sites like Wikipedia (although, we do recommend also looking places like there as well). By using a social intelligence tool like Sysomos MAP you can cut hours from your research by easily discovering the topics that will matter most and discovering subject matter experts that can help you to better understand almost any topic.