The Global Source for Social Media Researchers

SMRA Blog 

  • 22 Jul 2020 5:25 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Customer Experience Update 

    Interesting article on the connection between customer service and social media. 


    Instagram social media

    There used to be a time when businesses would fight for expensive billboards in prime locations to get their advertisement to as many people as possible. Those days are long gone!

    Although billboards still exist, companies can reach a far larger audience by tapping into the emerging influencer market than they ever could in the physical world. Your customers now expect you to be active on social media, so they can easily reach your customer service representatives through sites like Instagram to get their concerns and complaints resolved.

    Benefits and challenges of using social media as a customer support tool

    Having an active customer support system on various social media platforms means your customers can reach you directly. Solving your customers’ problems quickly and efficiently will strengthen their trust and gain their loyalty. It also increases the likelihood that your existing customers will recommend your brand to other people and promote your brand through social media shout-outs and reviews.

    Remember that a positive word of mouth is essential, as 85% of the people look up online reviews when thinking of buying something. Seeing an endorsement of your product or service on social media will get them to buy from you and not your competitors.

    But keep in mind that using social media for customer service also comes with certain challenges. You require more followers on your accounts and pages to stand out. Your customer support representatives have to be trained to respond to everyone’s queries promptly and solve their complaints in an empathetic manner. The idea is to look like a trustworthy brand and be one with helpful people to provide customer service.

    When Instagram users are browsing through products, they may send a lot of inquiry messages. Many times, these messages don’t end up in a purchase. Learning how to maneuver through various types messages is essential to make sure you’re answering customers’ inquiries on time and managing your customer relationships in the best way possible.

    How can Instagram growth service improve your customer service

    A straightforward way to use social media as a customer service tool is to get help with tasks that can take up a large chunk of your time. While you manage the actual brand and provide customer support, an Instagram growth service like SimplyGram can help grow your Instagram account.

    Instagram marketing services make your Instagram profile accessible to your customers, so they can reach out for support wherever needed. On top of that, growth services get your posts to reach your target audiences and engage with them on your behalf and a lot more!

    Using a professional Instagram growth service is a great way to provide customer service to a targeted audience and eliminate the time-consuming daily tasks. An organic Instagram growth service can give you peace of mind and save you time and energy that you can spend on other essential tasks.


    The world of social media works very fast, presenting you with both opportunities and challenges. Your customers want quick solutions to their problems, and social media, if used correctly, can turn this challenge into an opportunity. The good news is that an Instagram growth service like SimplyGram can help you cater to a more extensive customer base and provide quick and better solutions. Getting some help from professional social media marketing services can make a world of difference in how your brand performs overall.

  • 13 Jul 2020 6:58 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Always great to see how social media can be added to traditional market research. This article was published in Social Media Today, and written by Ann Smarty. 

    Social media marketers are always looking for ways to diversify their tactics, and engage more and more of their followers more often.

    After all, it's getting harder and harder to get your customers' attention on social media, as they're bombarded by clickbaity headlines and highly targeted ads.

    So how do you cut through that noise and get your messaging noticed?

    Integrating question research into your process may be the tactic that you're looking for - here's an overview of the why and how of utilizing common queries into your approach. 

    Why question research?

    Knowing which questions your target customers are asking is useful for many reasons, including:

    • It helps you better understand your target audience and their struggles - When you start collecting and curating niche questions, you'll also find yourself relating to the people who are asking them - for some reason, seeing a full-sentence question can often make it easier to picture the actual circumstances behind asking it
    • It improves brand reputation - Answering popular questions across multiple channels will naturally attract customers who are seeking answers. In addition to this, providing timely answers to customers’ questions will win their hearts, and help turn them into brand advocates
    • It drives action - Questions have long been known to be effective action-drivers, which is why so many commercials start with a question. When hearing a question, we instinctively look for an answer, and that’s the type of attention a marketing message needs to prompt engagement

    Establishing your brand as a key source of knowledge on a topic can be a great way to maximize performance, and question research can play a key role in this effort.

    So how do you do it? First, you start with the right tools...

    Where to find popular niche questions?

    In order to answer key questions, you need research tools which can highlight common queries being posed online.

    Buzzsumo Question Analyzer keeps its own index of discussion boards, and it will show you popular discussions around your topic:

    Buzzsumo questions

    Text Optimizer, meanwhile, uses semantic research to extract niche questions, and analyze them based on popularity. You can select any question and get Text Optimizer to extract related concepts for you to add into your editorial calendar:

    Text Optimizer questions

    Answer The Public extracts questions from Google’s Suggest results, and organizes them by question word for a mind-map-like visualization:

    Answer the Public

    How to integrate question research into your social media marketing?

    Once you've run your query through the above tools (and also got together with your customer support and sales teams to generate more ideas based on them), the next stage is to integrate these findings into your actual social media marketing process?

    Here are a few ideas on how to expand your content efforts based on those results:

    1. Ask and Answer Questions in Your Updates and Photo Captions

    This is pretty self-explanatory - get your team address the key questions you've identified within their social media updates.

    When asking questions on social media, you want your followers to actually take the time to answer you, so stick to questions that are:

    • Timely - These revolve around a current trend, seasonal event or a hot topic.
    • Open - These promote open-ended discussion (yes/no is not enough for an answer).
    • Easy - These questions don’t require too much analysis, and invite impulsive or emotional answers. Don’t make it too hard to come up with an answer. Invite your followers to share their own experience - but it may be worth considering staying away from political or edgy topics. You want a discussion, not a fight. 

    Here’s an example of a simple question, well asked:


    Asking your question in the overlay of your social media image is even a better idea. This will make your social media updates even more engaging and shareable.

    Tools like Placeit can help you create your own style, and put together new social media graphics in minutes:

    Placeit social media images

    2. Host Live Events (Twitter Chats, AMAs, etc.) Around Those Questions

    If you discover interesting questions that you feel your customers may want to discuss, you can host a social media event to address it.

    You have a wide array of choices here, including:

    3. Monitor Questions, and Provide Answers Where You C

    Finally, this one should be handled with a degree of caution in order to ensure that your brand doesn't appear spammy or desparate. As such, I wouldn’t recommend automating this - but it has worked for me very well, especially when I'm looking to get a new site or a new project off the ground.

    Twitter enables you to search for and monitor questions: Add a space and a “?” after your keyword query, and you’ll prompt Twitter to show tweeted questions. You can monitor these questions using multiple columns inside Tweetdeck:

    Monitor questions

    If you do decide to chime in with an answer to any of the tweeted questions, stay away from being too promotional. Focus on being helpful:

    This approach can go a long way in establishing great niche connections:

    Answer questions Twitter


    On top of everything else, question research will help you and your team better understand and relate to your target audience. This will result in more informed marketing decisions, more effective buyer persona building, and increasingly targeted content.

    And by implementing your findings into your marketing process, you may also see immediate results, like more comments and clicks.

    Follow Ann Smarty on Twitter

  • 30 Jun 2020 3:27 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    SMRA's pick of the week from our friends at Talkwalker! What a great example of what social media can tell you. Great job guys!! 

    Talkwalker Blog Post:

    By Dan - June 30, 2020

    The coronavirus and the following economic turmoil has shaken businesses to the core. When the dust settles, and we adjust to the ‘new normal’ there will be brands that hold strong, and those struggling to survive. In this blog, we look at how the crisis impacted the world’s 50 most popular brands, and why that love could be the key to their survival.

    11 ways to build love for your brand

    The Brand Love Story

    In our latest report, the Brand Love Story 2020, we analyzed 781 global brands to identify the 50 most loved brands on social media. Brand love is an effective strategy for engaging your audience, improving advocacy and loyalty.

    But now, we’re going to look at how vital it is for cushioning your brand during a global crisis, and why having a strong relationship with your community ensures you can maintain fiscality during an economic downturn.

    The world’s 50 most popular brands

    When we look at our most loved brands, we can see that corona mentions peak on March 23.

    How world's 50 most popular brands survived the pandemic - COVID-19 Mentions

    The mentions of our 50 most loved brands alongside COVID-19 mentions over 6 months.

    This peak was when countries around the world engaged lockdown procedures, with a slight delay as brands took the time to adapt to the changes. To look at the impact of corona on these brands, we’ll take a look at data from two periods:

    • Before coronavirus. July 1 2019 to December 31 2019. A 6-month period before COVID-19 struck.
    • During coronavirus. March 1 to May 31. A 3 month period when the implications of COVID-19 were fully felt. During that time, at least 10% of total brand mentions per week included mentions of COVID-19 related topics. Before that date, it was 3% maximum.

    The tone of conversations changed ‘during coronavirus'. Joy was less prevalent in the 2020 mentions, with a drastic rise in disgust and fear.

    How world's 50 most popular brands survived the pandemic - Emotions over time

    Once the impact of COVID-19 started to hit, joy decreased, while digust dramatically peaked.

    Across the world, conversations became more somber, for both these loved brands, and overall. The pandemic, economic woes, isolation, job losses, and deaths, changed how consumers talk about brands. And how brands talk about themselves.

    And yet, the love these brands previously built for themselves shone through. The peak on March 23 was vastly positive.

    How world's 50 most popular brands survived the pandemic - Overall sentiment

    Although the emotional context of the brand mentions decreased, sentiment for our loved brands was still high.

    With many of those mentions packed with love related keywords. Yes, there was a crisis, and these brands had to react, but overall, they were able to mitigate the damage. And actually receive additional praise for their handling.

    Take a look at some of the most loved brands to see why...

    How loved brands are staying ahead of the competition

    Why the love for Nostalgia is boosting Lego’s success

    Lego was our most loved brand at the end of 2019 - with 2020 still bringing them positive results. With many people in lockdown, they turned to Lego to provide entertainment for all the family.

    Lego averaged 860,000 mentions per month ‘before coronavirus', but 983,000 mentions per month ‘during coronavirus'. An increase of 14%.

    This increase in mentions ties to an increase in demand. Sales of the construction toy peaked on eBay.

    How world's 50 most popular brands survived the pandemic - Lego sentiment changes

    Comparing our ‘before coronavirus' and ‘during coronavirus' periods, there was an increase in positive brand sentiment.

    Comparing the two periods, both negative and positive sentiment levels increased. Negative increases are to be expected, as people increased discussions about a negative topic (coronavirus) around the brand.

    The increase in positive mentions is the important factor here. People engaged with the brand positively, to counteract the global negativity. The brand love Lego had built, meant that people turned to them during the crisis for reassurance.

    Nostalgia is a vital part of this. During a major crisis, people want to tap into familiar things from the past. They literally want to relive “the good old days”. For many, Lego is a brand familiar from people’s youth, and being a construction toy for all ages, it was easy for everyone to turn to for comfort and reassurance.

    Lego supported this with numerous brand led campaigns, connecting with the pain-points consumers were feeling at the time.

    Lego’s #LetsBuildTogether campaign helped families and fans unite with joyful moments and positive experiences. The hashtag was mentioned 27,900 times over the three months, with 377,900 engagements (13.54 engagements per mention).


    Don’t underestimate the power of nostalgia. People will look to remember the good times, and by connecting your brand to those times, you’ll maximize love.

    Also, don’t let a crisis stop you from doing what has worked so well. People need distractions from the issues in the world. Continue to offer the content that people already engage with, just ensure you’re not blind to the crisis going on around you.

    How Four Seasons Hotels’ community efforts are helping it mitigate damage

    For a brand like Four Seasons, the crisis has been a challenge. With travel restrictions and cancellations, it was certainly not business as usual.

    Monthly mentions of the brand increased by 26% from our ‘before coronavirus' to ‘during coronavirus' periods, with 52.3% of those mentions being positive. As of yet, we haven’t seen a spike in mentions related to refunds or cancellations, compared to Airbnb with around 10% of their total brand mentions over the ‘during coronavirus' period related to the topic.

    How world's 50 most popular brands survived the pandemic - Four Seasons Keywords

    Four Seasons Hotels’ mentions were vastly positive - mainly due to one initiative from the company.

    Four Seasons was a loved brand, because of their strong consumer connections and CSR strategy. The company knows it’s vital to support the communities their hotels are part of.

    They opened the New York Four Seasons, to house medical personnel during the peak of the crisis in the city. The first to host healthcare workers free-of-charge.

    This response engaged the local community, and consumers across the world. But this wasn’t a one-off, it was a continuation of the efforts they support. As a moment of positivity in a particularly dark time, it will be remembered once the situation calms.

    A well-thought-out response can have a wide reaching impact.


    Even when things are bad, there are still opportunities to find the good. Even if you can’t see how they will impact your brand immediately. Often, these big, community-focused efforts are long-term commitments, which will pay off in the long run.

    Why Warner Bros.’ audience connection is nurturing consumers for future impact

    The last months have been turbulent for Warner Bros. The crisis has impacted cinemas, meaning delays for many of the big releases for the past few months (and the rest of summer). Yet, there’s been an increase in demand for home entertainment, especially projects from the TV and publication side of the brand.

    For the company, they needed to keep excitement for the brand and its properties ignited, to ensure success for the delayed releases. This meant upping their already successful social media and PR strategy, to maximize engagement. The average engagement in the ‘during coronavirus' period was 30.6 engagements per mention, compared to a before ‘coronavirus' rate of 24 engagements per mention. An increase of 27.5%.

    How world's 50 most popular brands survived the pandemic - Warner Bros word cloud

    Much of the Warner Bros. conversations are dominated by the brand’s franchises, movies, stars and actors.

    The brand knows that they drive love by continually feeding their fan bases with new content, and listening to what their audience wants. During the crisis, while it wasn’t possible to continue with the major releases as they’d planned, Warner Bros. could still be part of the conversations with teasers and snippets.

    They teamed up with Lego to release a special PSA to help children understand the crisis, and finally announced a project that had been in demand for a long time. A Snyder cut of the Justice League movie.

    How world's 50 most popular brands survived the pandemic - Snyder cut mentions

    Demand for a director’s cut of the Justice League movie has been in demand for a while. So when Warner Bros. officially announced it, mentions went through the roof.

    The announcement was something the community had wanted for a long time. And was just what was needed for people to look forward to post lockdown. This unity between brand and consumer should aid the company’s recovery in the coming months.

    Fans and stars are equally excited about the upcoming release - which should help boost the figures of Warner Bros. sister company HBO Max.


    Even if you can’t make immediate sales, you can still nurture your audience. Tease, tempt, inform, so when the opportunity does arise, your customers will be in the ideal place to buy.

    And constantly listen to your audience. Social listening can show you exactly what consumers want. With those insights in hand, you can always meet customer expectations.

    How brand love helps brands remain industry leaders

    Why travel woes have had less impact on loved tourism brands

    With enforced closures and travel restrictions across the globe, the tourism industry has been badly impacted. In the ‘during coronavirus' period, there were 7.3M mentions of refunds or cancellations in relation to the industry. Companies not only faced a shortage of income, but saw huge outgoing cash flow, with varying levels of government support.

    How world's 50 most popular brands survived the pandemic - Hospitality refunds mentions

    Mentions of refunds and cancellations within the tourism industry spiked as lockdown took hold.

    For all airline mentions, 31.2% were negative and only 11.6% positive ‘during coronavirus', compared to 21% negative and 44% positive in the ‘before coronavirus' period. Many companies struggled to cope with the demand for refunds, while juggling reduced staff levels. While the decision to offer vouchers instead of cash refunds also riled customers. It became such an issue, a ranking was set up on who was the worst at offering refunds…

    With 1.8k engagements, tweets like this show how important refunds are to consumers.

    For the two airlines that made the Brand Love Story, Singapore Airlines, and Etihad Airways, the downturn is less noticeable.

    How world's 50 most popular brands survived the pandemic - Singapore Airlines Etihad Airways sentiment

    Even in the crisis, Etihad Airways has more positive mentions than negative ones.

    Etihad Airways maintained their brand love, through their continued sport sponsorship and CSR efforts, while Singapore Airlines (and their sub-brand, Scoot) maintained a transparent communication strategy with their consumers.

    With so much uncertainty during a crisis, brands need to be open and confident in their messaging.

    A similarly hit industry was cruise lines - faced with the same travel restrictions as airlines, with the added risk of ships themselves becoming virus epicenters.

    31% of mentions related to cruising were negative during the ‘during coronavirus' period. But our most loved Cruise Company, Celebrity Cruises, had only 1.6% negative mentions. It was staying afloat in a stormy industry.


    Being a loved brand won’t entirely protect you from a major crisis, but it can significantly mitigate the damage. The built up deposits of brand love help you weather the situation - it takes a lot for a brand advocate to turn into a critic.

    Plus, the methods that loved brands use to keep customers happy during the better times, also work just as effectively during a crisis. The connections these brands have built, help them to adapt the conversations quickly, to diffuse issues quickly.

    How loved brands took an unfair share of industry growth

    The lockdown had a massive impact on consumer buying habits. Essential products such as food and hygiene products became priority, with many supermarkets seeing an increase in demand, leading to shortages of some products.

    For many, chocolate became an essential comfort food during lockdown. With mentions increasing from 3.53 million mentions per month ‘before coronavirus' to 4.73 million (+34%) ‘during coronavirus'.

    How world's 50 most popular brands survived the pandemic - Chocolate image recognition

    By using image recognition, we can detect brand images in posts. Cadbury dominated the visual conversations during the lockdown.

    When people turned to the comfort of chocolate, it was Cadbury, the much-loved brand, they turned to first. With Dove coming in second place. Demonstrating again the importance of brand love - the relationship you build now will be there even when times are critical.

    Cadbury was the brand that people turned to during lockdown.

    The same can be seen for major retailers. Whole Foods Market saw their average engagement per mention increase from 30.7 ‘before coronavirus' to 48.4 ‘ during coronavirus'.

    The brand did have to adapt to meet the increase in demand, which brought challenges of their own. Ensuring supply meant increasing staff numbers, while minimizing staff risk. They also tackled brand shortages by introducing ‘senior’ opening hours. Overall, the brand did suffer from some negative press, but because of their established reputation as a loved brand, they were able to shake off the worst of it, with little change to their sentiment.

    Whole Foods was one of the brands consumers missed during lockdown. A clear sign of love.


    In any crisis, there are some industries that will still profit. But for the brands within those industries, there will still be varying levels of success.

    With less choice, consumers will turn to the brands they feel more connected to - the ones they love. That usually means those brands take an unfair slice of the spend available.

    Of course, these brands still have their work cut out for them, managing the challenges a crisis brings. But the effective social media and PR plans they have in place helps them manage these issues effectively.


    Brand love really does make a difference to a brand. During boom and during bust. When you’re facing unprecedented issues, or increased demand.

    By following the 11 methods that the world’s 50 most popular brands use, you’ll nurture a loyal audience that connects with your brand, engages with your messages, and will stand by you even through the toughest times.

  • 22 Jun 2020 6:43 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)


    Jim Matorin, of Smartketing and Advisor of the Social Media Research Associate. 

    New World Data Treasure Throve

    By the numbers: Adobe Analytics reported total online U.S. sales increased 25% on average at the end of March compared to early March; grocery 100%. A short-term anomaly attributed to the shelter-in-place phase of the COVID-19 pandemic? Not according to data analytics. The spike in online sales was primarily driven by two demographic groups: Millennials and higher-income consumers. For that reason, this does not represent a temporary shift in consumer buying habits. Smart marketers forecast more consumers will continue to reduce their in-person activities and further adapt to the convenience of digital technologies. eMarketer projects 7.4 million new digital buyers in 2020.

    The surge in online sales during the COVID-19 health crisis generated a plethora of data points. For starters, marketers will undoubtedly benefit from the utilization of AI to analyze their customer data and leverage machine learning algorithms to personalize their future marketing messages. Specifically, by mining the new pandemic treasure trove of online data, marketers will be able to analyze/learn the purchase journey for all individuals. Some examples:

    • Household essentials.
    • Food-away-from-home delivery: time of day, as well as food preferences.
    • Browsing history.
    • App utilization.
    • Devices utilized for entertainment, downloading e-books, social networking, etc.
    • The addresses, both physical and online for each customer.

    Second, marketers will utilize the data to engage with their customers, recommend products, offer dynamic pricing (a.k.a. discounts) to build long-term brand loyalty/trust. Last of all, thanks to AI, marketers will utilize the data to optimize their advertising, thus deliver relevant, real time marketing content to their customers when they are in the digital world.

    In closing, Gartner research predicted at the beginning of the year 2020, 90% of the brands will use some form of marketing personalization. Conversely, they believe most will fail delivering the relevant content their consumers seek. However, based on the increased utilization of digital technologies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, marketers now have a silver lining – a treasure trove of consumer data to connect with their buyers and build long-term loyalty.       

  • 11 Jun 2020 8:05 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    There has been so much talk about TikTok  and as people are quarantined many are using it for the first time. Today, we share a good case study on how to use hashtags in your TikTok campaign. 

    From: Social Media Today


    Andrew Hutchinson


    Are you looking to add TikTok into your digital marketing mix? Wondering how you can tap into the key trends of the platform to maximize your messaging?

    This week, TikTok has published a new case study which provides a basic overview of how to run one of the most successful promotional options on the platform - a branded hashtag challenge.

    Branded hashtag challenges are just as they sound - brands create a specific hashtag linked to a video challenge, which they can then use to expand their messaging by facilitating an interactive, engaging video response campaign. That's not necessarily easy - you can't just come up with any idea and expect TikTok users to follow along. But if you can come up with an interesting, engaging idea, which enables users to provide their own creative takes, it can definitely have significant reach and brand awareness benefits.

    The case study looks at ZALORA, a fashion eCommerce platform in Asia. ZALORA sought to use TikTok to promote its upcoming fashion festival in Singapore, so it worked with TikTok on a branded hashtag challenge to engage the TikTok community.

    "Set to the tune of the campaign's custom Branded Music, ZALORA’s #ZStyleNow Challenge invited participants to flash a “Z” hand signal, which would trigger the guise of an instant outfit change. Plus, it was an opportunity for users to show off their wardrobe and inner fashionista to their world, which gelled perfectly with TikTok's group of young audiences who use TikTok as their de facto platform for self-expression."

    Again, that's not necessarily simple - you need an engaging idea, and ideally music, to get more people involved. And as you can see in this example, ZALORA also used a financial incentive to prompt further engagement, with a giveaway of up to $200 in ZALORA products per winner.

  • 31 May 2020 9:27 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Our pick of the week is the following article that was published by ScreenRant, article written by Aswin Narayanan. Some thought provoking information here that represents all sides of the issues. 

    Internal research by Facebook found that the platform is far more divisive than it seems and solving the issue will likely need radical change.

    Facebook appears to have previously ignored its own internal research that shed light on how divisive the social media platform is. This is one more incident to add to the growing list of accusations Facebook has faced in recent times, regarding its content and administrative practices. While also further highlighting that Facebook users need to be aware of the mechanics in play on the platform.

    This revelation comes in the midst of a pandemic where people are spending more time on platforms like Facebook where they are exposed to all kinds of misinformation. However, it is not the first time Facebook has been criticized for not taking responsibility for its content. Last year, a number of known personalities boycotted Facebook when it was reported that the social media giant had no issues with promoting paid political ads, despite them often containing false and divisive information. The social media giant's capability to swing public opinion has been well documented in the past, and since the controversial 2016 US Presidential election and the UK's Brexit referendum, it has become an important topic for governments and communication experts, alike. The issue escalated severely after the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal that revealed user information from millions of Facebook accounts was used to target people with political advertising.

    The latest allegation is just as serious as those from before. In an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, it was found that Facebook leadership ignored and shelved its own internal research that indicated the platform was, by design, promoting divisiveness. The researchers found that Facebook's recommendation algorithm is actively promoting divisive content, pages and groups to users, suggesting a serious and fundamental design flaw that would require a radical change for the issues to be overcome. However, the investigation also reveals that the Facebook leadership was unwilling to take that path and make the appropriate changes to the platform.

    How Facebook Divides Society

    According to the report, Facebook's powerful recommendation algorithm is exploiting the "human brain's attraction to divisiveness" and if not fixed would continue to divide users even more, as a way to increase user engagement. This basic flaw in design hints that Facebook is far more polarizing than many actually believe it to be. However, the more serious allegation here is that Facebook executives, including Policy chief, Joel Kaplan, didn't take any action to solve the issue.

    A former Deputy Chief of Staff in the George W. Bush administration, Kaplan was responsible for vetting the changes proposed by the research team, including a rethinking of how Facebook products work, the creation of additional features to reduce social media wars over sensitive topics, and preventing coordinated content manipulation efforts. The research team also added that making these changes would mean taking a 'moral stand' and risk less user engagement, as well as growth. Furthermore, the team also found that the changes would impact conservative politics far more than liberal, based on the suggestion a greater proportion of divisive content comes from right-wing users and groups.

    Although a disturbing revelation, the findings are in line with how Facebook has responded to calls from different quarters to regulate and fact-check content, especially political ads. In a recent CNBC interview, Mark Zuckerberg reiterated that social media websites should not be fact-checking political speech. Meanwhile, platforms like Twitter and Spotify have taken bold steps to ban political ads, and are even starting to flag what is deemed potential misinformation by political leaders.

    Failure to regulate harmful content is one thing, but the knowledge that Facebook's own recommendation algorithm is, by design, promoting polarizing content for increased user engagement is quite another. Even more shocking is the fact that Zuckerberg and fellow Facebook executives felt it was better to continue to allow this to happen, instead of looking to address the issue with changes.

  • 16 May 2020 7:51 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)
    Our pick of the week is an article from two food Scientists from the University of Illinois & Princeton University and how they are using text analytics in social media. 


      Photo of University of Illinois graduate student Dandan Tao, lead author of a study on text-mining in food research.

      Data analytics of users’ posts on social media platforms and other digital media are being used by researchers to study a variety of food- and health-related issues and to collect consumer feedback on restaurants, food products and delivery services, University of Illinois food science graduate student Dandan Tao found in a study.

      Photo by Pengkun Yang

    • CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — From tweeting photos of delicious meals to reviewing restaurants, social media give foodies numerous opportunities to indulge their passion for edibles. But these media and other digital communications — including recipe websites and food-delivery apps — also generate a rich trove of text data for food scientists and food industry researchers to study what people eat, how nutrition affects health and many other food-related topics.

      Food scientists Dandan Tao and Hao Feng of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Pengkun Yang of Princeton University examined the use of text mining – defined broadly as the retrieval and analysis of text data – in food science and nutrition research, which they said is a young but growing field, nourished by advances in big-data analytics.

      Researchers have used social media to investigate foodborne illness outbreaks, and they have analyzed the digital records of British consumers’ grocery purchases to monitor obesity rates and obesity-related diseases in London. They also mine the text of other digital media such as search queries and recipe websites to explore dietary patterns and the growing popularity of plant-based diets.

      Public health experts use text mining on Twitter, Instagram and Yelp! to identify unreported foodborne illness outbreaks, with users’ posts helping them develop a clearer picture of the number of people experiencing symptoms, said Tao, a graduate student in food science at the U. of I. and the first author of the study.   

      “Only a small portion of the people who get sick after eating potentially contaminated food go to the hospital, and public health experts’ estimates of the number of people affected by a foodborne illness are based on those who seek treatment,” Tao said. “Scientists think that text mining social media discussions and contacting other potential sufferers gives a much stronger signal of the extent of an outbreak than just the number of patients treated.”

      Food science professor Hao Feng is a co-author of the study, published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.

      Photo by Illini Studio.

      Text mining of online scientific databases and abstracts of studies helps scientists better understand the relationships among diet, genes and disease.

      Past studies of dietary patterns, obesity and related chronic illnesses relied on limited data gathered from participants who completed food diaries or surveys. But with millions of internet users going online daily to swap information about their eating habits and health conditions, digital media enable scientists to easily obtain data from broader populations for studies on food consumption and health outcomes.

      Twitter and Instagram posts and Google search histories have been used to investigate nutritional patterns and health behaviors, Tao and her co-authors found.

      In one study, scientists found correlations between tweets on obesity and the prevalence of obesity in U.S. adults. In another project, researchers found associations between the Twitter hashtags people used and the quality of their diets.

      Instagram users’ posts have provided data for studies of alcohol consumption patterns and the impact of food deserts on neighborhoods’ eating habits, according to the study.

      In addition to whetting the appetites of amateur chefs, recipe websites and search queries for recipes have fueled research on dietary trends such as veganism, and associations between dietary patterns and disease.

      The recipes that users post online also provide clues on cultural differences, Tao said.

      “One group did a study that compared Western cuisines with Asian cuisines and identified ingredient pairings in these recipes,” Tao said. “They found that Western cuisines tended to use ingredients that shared flavor components, while Eastern cuisines –  especially Indian dishes – try to avoid using ingredients that share flavor components.”

      Online media are powerful sources of business intelligence, too, Tao said.

      “Digital text analytics are cost-effective methods for the food industry to gain quality improvement ideas from the public and make informed business decisions,” she said.

      Restaurants and manufacturers harvest text data from social media platforms to analyze consumer feedback on their own and their competitors’ products and services, such as which fast-food chains diners prefer.

      And restaurants and food delivery services use data from their online ordering apps to optimize their delivery routes and reduce customers’ wait time for their meals, according to the researchers.

      Tao and her co-authors analyzed 57 studies and conference papers on text mining in food science research. Their study, funded by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, was published in the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.

      Editor’s Note: To reach Dandan Tao, email

  • 8 May 2020 7:26 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Our article pick of the week! I believe we are going to see more and more of this. 

    Forbes: Kathleen Walch, Contributor


    Now more than ever companies are turning to technology to help stay connected and engaged with customers. As social distancing has closed many in-person experiences, stores and brands are looking for additional ways to still provide value. Companies all over the world are fighting for customer attention, and they are using technology to discover new ways to get it. As such they are turning to technologies such as AI to help. However, finding sample use cases from a similar industry may be a challenge.

    Industries are using artificial intelligence to help organize, improve and streamline tasks such as creating custom experiences, personalized emails, offers, chatbots, and various other hyperpersonalized experiences.

    What is Customer Experience?

    The customer experience can relate to such a broad range of areas. For instance, experiences with customer support and customer service interaction, from returns to troubleshooting a purchase, to the website experience, messaging, and customized offerings. Although, the customer experience life cycle is much more than this.

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    The customer life cycle begins with the first touch or notification, such as a pop-up window or email notification, making a purchase or using the product. It continues with use of the product, or in some cases, having to reach out to customer support. The better the experience the customer has with a brand, the more they will continue using and recommending it to friends and family. This is a large part of the net promoter score that measures the customer experience.

    Positive customer experiences help people feel good about their purchase, influencing them to become repeat buyers for that brand. Companies are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence to help achieve positive customer experiences. This means people in marketing departments no longer need to manually segment the audience and push campaigns, personally write messages or handle every customer service message. AI is now able to help with these activities.


    Artificial Intelligence is not only being used to understand more about individual customers, but for recording your history and interactions through browsing history, email open history, click through rates and other various metrics. Without AI, companies have to guess which marketing technique is most effective. However, through Big Data and AI analytics, companies can now develop more comprehensive customer profiles by knowing exactly what the customer wants.

    With AI, not only can we determine which marketing strategies work best for each customer, we can further understand the customer's specific needs and wants through algorithms that are tracking their interactions and behavior. This helps improve the entire customer experience.

    AI Enabled Chatbots

    AI enabled chatbots are becoming increasingly popular due to their positive impact in many types of industries. These chatbots have the ability to begin conversations with customers, providing relevant answers to their questions, and can help with every touch point through the whole customer life cycle and purchasing experience.

    The chatbot can answer customer questions directly, streamlining the online sales process and resolving problems. Additionally, customers can interact with chatbots when convenient for them, as they are available 24/7. This reduces the wait time to get answers to questions.

    In addition, chat bots can be set up to transfer customers to human agents if the customer has a more complex question. This helps speed up the customer support process as a whole.

    Using AI to Maximize Sales and Customer Satisfaction

    Companies are starting to integrate AI into many areas of the purchase process to help maximize both sales and customer satisfaction. For instance, when customers are shopping online, it is common to see 'recommended' products. By using clustering algorithms, brands are able to provide better recommendations which hopefully increases conversion and sales.

    These AI systems are really trying to achieve the same goals of maximizing purchases, sales and customer satisfaction. However, it is not in the best interest of the store to recommend products the customer doesn't really want, as they are likely to not buy it or return it.

    Therefore, the goal is to match customers with products the customer is most likely to need or want based around various factors. This is where AI connects with customers on an individual basis to determine these factors though previous communication, referrals, and more. This is where AI really shines.

    Concerns over Data Usage and Tracking

    The use of AI for powering customer experience offers many positive benefits. According to the National Business Research Institute, "over 62% of businesses planned to use AI for customer service in 2018". This is a large portion of businesses wanting to incorporate AI. While this adds value to the future of artificial intelligence, this type of tailored content and heavy data use is raising concerns for those that believe brands already collect too much data and information.

    These are valid concerns that will only be more common with the increase of AI usage. There needs to be a balance between how people feel comfortable with brands using their data and the services and benefits received, compared to when customers feel information is being overused in ways they did not provide consent for their data to be used in that way.

    In the end, AI is a powerful tool that companies can, will, and do use. It will increasingly be used to improve customer satisfaction and customer experience.

  • 1 May 2020 10:30 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    SMRA pick of the week:

    University of Maryland made news this week (The Baltimore Sun) announcing their partnership with Facebook to design a research initiative to gain insights into coronavirus data.  

    Faculty at the University of Maryland have been working with Facebook to design a worldwide survey aimed at collecting coronavirus data during the global pandemic.

    The University of Maryland and Carnegie Mellon University are partnering with the social media company to gather information on the coronavirus to help diagnose which areas have been most impacted and assist public health officials in their response and prevention efforts.

    Frauke Kreuter, director of the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at UMD, said Thursday in a phone interview that faculty in four departments — survey methodology, geography, computer science and information science — have been working since late March to help develop an approximately five-minute survey that Facebook can distribute to its over 2 billion active monthly users.

    The first part of the survey focuses on what symptoms people have exhibited, while the second and third parts center on social distancing behavior and demographic information. Survey responses are recorded on an off-site platform, then sent back to researchers and not shared with Facebook.

    Initial findings from Carnegie Mellon have been used to plot geographic data relating to COVID-19, such as doctors’ visits in a specific region and demand for flu tests.

    Kreuter said the departments have worked “day and night” in the recent weeks to quickly create a survey to collect data on the coronavirus, which has over 3 million confirmed cases worldwide, and over 1 million confirmed cases in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

    “As the world fights covid-19 and countries develop plans to reopen their societies, it’s critical to have a clear understanding of how the disease is spreading,” Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote in The Washington Post. “Better data can help governments determine where to send resources such as ventilators and personal protective equipment — and eventually which areas are safe to start opening up again.”

    Daniel Oyefusi

    Daniel Oyefusi


    Daniel Oyefusi is a Ravens and sports breaking news reporter. A 2019 Maryland graduate and Towson native, Daniel most recently interned at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis and worked for Capital News Service. He also interned with TMZ Sports and The Sports Capitol, and has written for The Left Bench and The Washington Post.

  • 26 Apr 2020 1:29 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Lucidya Social Media Listening tool  Is our article pick of the week. Review this quick read as a way to see the glass as half full, as hard as this is right now. However, keeping a watchful eye on what is happening on the web and in social media will help your business identify the new normal we all face. 

    COVID-19 has left a huge impact on economies around the world.

    Knowing how to manage your brand during times of crisis like this is important to keep your customers happy and brand reputation high. How can you achieve these two goals with social listening?

    How COVID-19 Is Impacting Businesses

    The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on economies is unparalleled in world history. Businesses of all sizes—even enterprises—are struggling to cope with reduced market demand, leading to extremely high unemployment rates. Jobless claims in the U.S. crossed the six million mark in less than a week of applications being opened while markets fell to record-breaking levels, exceeding that of the 2008 global financial crisis,

    Now is the time for businesses to go back to the drawing board and rethink their strategies. Despite the challenges, organizations still need to meet their goals, albeit at a reduced scale. It’s the companies that make wise decisions now who will come out ahead when the economy eventually bounces back.

    How Will Your Customers and Brand Reputation Be Affected by This?

    Your business is likely to be affected by the crisis negatively. Customers will dial in to cancel their orders or subscriptions. Suppliers may struggle to deliver goods when dealing with travel restrictions. You may even need to reduce spending to keep afloat.

    However, this doesn’t mean you should stop serving customers and finding new clients. There’s less money to be made because people are holding cash. But, the clients you support when times are hard will appreciate your brand when the pandemic is over, improving your brand reputation and customer trust.

    This is where social listening plays a part. With social listening, you can dial in on relevant conversations on social media to identify opportunities your brand can take advantage of. Here are five ways your brand can benefit from a social listening tool like Lucidya.

    5 Ways to Maintain Customer Happiness and Brand Reputation With Social Listening

    1. Keep Track of Customer Needs

    During times of crisis, customers will voice out their feelings about the current situation. Since everyone is at home, people flock to social media as a platform to express their thoughts and opinions. You can use this to your benefit by tracking relevant conversations that allow you to identify critical customer needs.

    Lucidya’s brand reputation analysis dashboardLucidya’s brand reputation analysis dashboard


    If you’re selling a video conferencing software, you can monitor conversations from business owners who are looking for remote tools to manage employees working from home. You can use Lucidya’s advanced filters to further refine your results and highlight only qualified conversations.

    You can also use social listening to keep track of your existing customers’ needs. Your customers could ask questions like:

    • Are your features working as intended? 
    • Are your services keeping up with increased demand? 
    • Are there any suggestions from the community that are not available yet in your product? 

    These queries are found on any social media platform which is why you need to leverage technology so you don’t waste time doing manual work. Addressing them will go a long way in boosting customer loyalty and brand reputation.

    2. Be Aware of the Latest News and Updates

    There are always updates and news surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. We even launched a dashboard to keep track of the latest coronavirus updates awhile ago. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to be aware of the latest news relevant to your organization. This means staying updated on important events, industry updates, and so forth.

    For instance, you can keep track of government programs designed to accommodate businesses during the pandemic. This keeps your finances stable when clients are not spending much on your products and services. You can also keep tabs on furloughing schemes if you don’t want to dismiss employees while restructuring your budget.

    Regardless of your objective, we recommend staying updated so your organization does not fall behind more proactive rivals in the market. Lucidya helps you achieve this by tracking specific keywords, topics, or mentions on every social media platform easily.

    3. Launch Relevant Campaigns

    Your brand can use the in-depth insights gained from social listening to craft targeted campaigns during a pandemic. This allows you to give back to your clients by creating high-value campaigns like free or discounted plans for your services—a strategy that many leading companies are already doing at the moment.

    One way to craft better campaigns is to analyze audience sentiment which is one of Lucidya’s top features. In other words, how are your customers feeling right now about the crisis? This allows you to gauge your audience which helps immensely in sending the right message across in your campaigns, be it on social media or any other digital channel.

    4. Improve Your PR Through Community Service

    Managing your PR is crucial in challenging times like this. People get unsettled easily when their lives are affected by an event as massive as the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, customers expect tip-top service from your company when they’re spending their hard-earned money on your business.

    Monitoring negative customer tweets and mentions on social media with Lucidya

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