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SMRA Blog 

  • 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

  • 21 Apr 2020 3:46 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Contact Kathy Doering at for more information on how to implement this program.

    Emoji Revolution

    The Emoji revolution is taking over as a very creative form of expression. Did you ever think we would reach a point in society where a smiley face would change the way we communicate with one another? There are thousands of emojis being used every day and new ones being created. You can uncover a wealth of information by taking a closer look at the emotion behind an emoji used, whether online from a customer or through a text message. From the most popular ones used to the least noticed. Emotional data behind an emoji can be more enlightening and descriptive than listening to words themselves.  

    The Emoji Shift During COVID-19

    Just last week Horizon Media came out with a study on the emotional shift that took place in the United States during COVID-19, just by analyzing emojis. They took over 28 million Tweets and divided their findings based on gender and geography to reveal patterns. Their goal was to evaluate the difference between emoji use during the crisis and prior to the pandemic.   

    In conclusion, the study revealed a more carefree emotion prior to the pandemic taking place. The emotions portrayed during the spread of the coronavirus was a mix of grim and reflective emotions. The top 100 emojis used drastically changed to “Medical Masks,” “Microbe” and “Angry Faces with Symbols.” They ultimately discovered people were expressing thoughtful emotions.  

    What Can Emoji Data Do For Your Business?

    Analyzing the data provided in a study such as Horizon Media, allows you to change the tone of your upcoming campaigns, the direction of your marketing, selling or online content. Shifting alongside the tone of your customers permits you to stay relevant with your audience.  This may mean incorporating emojis. It would be ideal to use your customers’ favorite emojis, especially as it is used in your brand messaging, and begin using them in our marketing.

    Listening to your customers online is an essential part to any business, but what about understanding what your customers are saying through a symbol? Easily interpret the online tone and emotion of your customers through our brand listening program. Emoji symbols are compiled into one easy to access report. Understand the sentiment behind an emoji. Learn more about your social footprint by tracking online and social conversation about your brand, product, campaign or management team.

    Other services we offer:

    Crisis Management

    Competitive Intelligence

    Influencer Network

    Content Analysis

    Social Channel Analytics

    Hashtag Tracking

    Campaign Monitoring

  • 17 Apr 2020 6:45 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Reported by :Sacramento News

    UC Davis researchers conducting a study of coronavirus-related posts on China’s popular microblogging website Weibo say social media surveillance could help health officials identify and respond to emerging outbreaks.

    The study involved the analysis of over 12 million Weibo posts regarding COVID-19 between November 2019 and March 2020.

    The research found that posts about symptoms and the disease could help health officials predict daily case counts up to week earlier than officials statistics.

    Cuihua “Cindy” Shen, a UC Davis associate professor of communication, along with campus colleagues and others from two universities in China, used machine learning to sift sick posts from other COVID-19 related posts, according to a post published by Kathleen Holder in the Society, Arts & Culture section on the university’s website. The researchers built a pool of 250 million Weibo users and utilized 167 keywords related to coronavirus to identify a pattern in the posts.

    The researchers said the sick posts held true for both Hubei province, the place of origin for the virus, and the rest of mainland China.

    “Being the epicenter of the outbreak, Hubei province experienced extreme testing shortages during the early stage of the study period,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “As a result, many Hubei residents turned to social media sites such as Weibo to seek help for testing and medical care.”

    The researchers suggest this new method as “a fast, low-cost way to inform disease containment and mitigation.” They also cited the low-risk factor of social media tracking as it can be done from afar.

    “It is imperative that international organizations such as the World Health Organization integrate such data into their outbreak forecasting management practices, in order to mobilize and coordinate relief efforts to help combat COVID-19,” UC Davis researchers said.

  • 1 Apr 2020 8:47 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    30th of March 2020  

    By: Michalis Michael, CEO of Digital MR

    My perspective is informed by social intelligence which is what I do for a living, as well as stoicism which is a philosophy I admire.

    I will discuss a few related themes in this article.

    The first theme is:

    What can we do differently in order to be helpful to others and survive the covid-19 pandemic intact?

    I will attempt to answer this question for 3 separate constituencies:

    1. market research companies because DigitalMR is one :)
    2. clients of market research — the brands
    3. all individuals, all of us

    The premise for the first theme is that people have to stay at home which results in more time in their hands. They communicate more online, they proactively share more content, respond to more posts and they most definitely read or watch more clips.

    1. Market research companies

    They can play a useful role by tapping into this online chatter to distill the communicated needs and fears along with messages of hope and tips on how to overcome challenges. Distilling and interpreting is what insights practitioners do best.

    There is a multinational market research agency in Brazil and Mexico already doing this with DigitalMR. They provide helpful information to their clients in a daily email. In this day and age harvesting millions of online posts from twitter, FB, IG. forums etc. and using machine learning to annotate them for topics and emotions is indeed doable at a high level of accuracy.

    2. Clients of market research (brands)

    They can listen to what people post about their product categories and brands in order to discover ways to be helpful.

    There are 3 groups of companies: the ones that produce products in high demand (such as toilet paper or disinfectant sprays), the ones that went to zero revenue from one day to the next like a chain of restaurants, and those that are somewhere in between. All can benefit from social listening: from learning how to tap into newly created demand, fine tuning their products to address new needs and struggles, and by providing tips on usage creating good will for the return to normality.

    3. All individuals

    For all the people who are reading this I want to share a few stoic principles:

    It’s not the things that happen in life that drive our emotions and behaviors,
    it’s how we think about those things that does.

    So, when faced with a new challenge I suggest the following thought process inspired by my good friend Justin Stead the founder of Aurelius Foundation:

    It is what it is. I don’t label it, I don’t judge it.
    What is required for a positive outcome?
    Is the action I am about to take driven by altruism, ego or wishful thinking?

    The second theme is:

    How to stay engaged with customers that cannot use your product or service during lockdown.

    As already shared, the pandemic forced companies into one of 3 groups, agencies and brands alike:

    1. those who experience explosive sales growth
    2. zero sales from one day to the next
    3. somewhere in between

    If you are experiencing higher sales as a result of the crisis you have your hands full and you are probably not reading articles like this.

    If your sales went to zero or were reduced drastically, your first concern is obviously to survive, create enough runway for the cash that you have available or can still get. The second concern — assuming the crisis ends before you go bankrupt — is how to keep your customers engaged so as to ensure that your brand equity is strengthened rather than weakened.

    You want to know how?

    Well, social intelligence is the answer.

    What is it?

    It is thousands of posts harvested from sources such as Twitter, FB, IG, forums, blogs etc. on a daily basis, annotated for topics and sentiment by machine learning algorithms.

    Here are the 10 things you can do to improve your brand equity even while your revenue is plummeting:

    1. understand the biggest challenges resulting from consumers not having access to a product or service and offer them tips on how to deal with the situation e.g. cannot go to a hair salon to dye hair; how to choose and use a hair colorant at home
    2. connect posts about needs and challenges with posts that suggest solutions — by sharing both continually.
    3. find out which social media platforms are the most popular during the crisis by target group so that you can use them to communicate
    4. produce an information campaign with positive developments that give people hope
    5. consolidate all the posts that communicate fear, mistrust, anger and respond with a helpful message
    6. identify scams and myths and communicate them via your information campaign
    7. uncover behaviour, purchasing decision making and product usage changes that might be helpful to you on day 1 when we are on the other side of this pandemic
    8. check what is your brand’s net sentiment score versus your competitors
    9. infer from online activity how your competitors are preparing to hit the ground running on day 1
    10. discover something useful that you did not even know you were looking for

    It is actually simpler than it sounds.

    The 3rd, 4th and 5th themes are:

    New habits that will carry on
    Is lockdown a solution to our climate problem?
    Unique opportunity to press the reset button

  • 26 Mar 2020 8:22 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Netbase & Quid's recent merger is already proving to be an excellent combination. We thought this might be interesting reading with a somewhat entertaining angle (pardon the pun) ! 

    by Paige Leidig | Mar 23, 2020 | MarketingSocial ListeningTrends

    Entertainment Coronavirus

    As the fear of a global pandemic is upon us, consumers are being forced to adapt to new ways of living and socializing, as school and work closures leave millions in seclusion at home. While the population wrestles with the closing of stores, restaurants, and banks, Hollywood is facing its own existential crisis.


    As the world slows down for the foreseeable future, the Box Office Industry turns a grim eye as studios halt productions and opening weekends.  The Entertainment Industry has been hard hit by COVID-19, but is there a way to bring about innovative solutions during this crisis? How can Hollywood assist with viewer morale and benefit from it at the same time?

    Box Office Bust

    This past weekend saw the lowest ticket sales in the United States, with Hollywood garnering only $55 million in revenue. While not unexpected, as movie theaters began operating at 50% capacity or barring their doors altogether, “the impact of this unprecedented situation was apparent across many industries,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore. “Of course, movie theaters, amidst reduced capacity and an ever-evolving set of circumstances, had a very challenging weekend.”

    As celebrities like Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, and Idris Elba admit to testing positive for COVID19 . . .


    There has been a definite shift from the previously skeptical public sentiment to one of panic:


    With production studios shutting down and hundreds of thousands of entertainment industry workers out of jobs, studio executives are now facing the possibility of a slow or non-existent Spring and Summer Box Office season. And upwards of $4 billion in lost revenue.

    With big audience draws like Mulan, Quiet Place, Black Widow, and the new James Bond movie being removed from release calendars, “no one can precisely predict when public life will return to normal, but it will return,” Patrick Corcoran, the president of the National Association of Theater Owners, said in a statement on Match 17. “When those titles are rescheduled, they will make for an even fuller slate of offerings than normal as they are slotted into an already robust release schedule later in the year.”

    In the meantime, streaming and on-demand may be an alternative solution to canceling and rescheduling release dates. One that will benefit not only studios but consumers as well. And we can vet plans ahead of moving forward with the benefit of AI-powered market intelligence.

    Visualizing Covid Conversations

    Using Quid’s Text Analysis capabilities, we can visualize what consumers are discussing in terms of the Entertainment Industry and the COVID-19 threat, as well as the state of the market right now:


    We can see that conversation revolves around theater closures and production delays; however, there is a growing interest in online entertainment.


    As people begin to adjust to working from home and social distancing, the demand for streaming services will continue to increase – “Streamers have already changed the way we watch TV—introducing binge-watching and slowly eliminating cable subscriptions—and the more that cable and broadcast series are delayed, the more likely we will continue to move away from the appointment viewing of television’s past.”  

    While a few studios, such as Netflix and Disney, already produce and stream their own content, more companies are beginning to see the benefit to instant releases, especially as more states move to lockdowns.


    “Universal Studios announced Monday that it would begin releasing films like Invisible Man, Emma and The Hunt available for in-home, on-demand rentals despite the fact that these films were only recently released.”


    And in a move that would otherwise create backlash among theater chains, Sony released “Bloodshot” to digital streaming just 11 days after it opened, breaking the traditional film distribution schedule.


    Making Maverick Movie Moves

    At $19.99 to download – a price many consumers are more than happy to pay – the release was an endearing hit with fans:


    Will more studios see the benefit of skipping traditional releases? Is some profit better than none?

    As production executives face lay-offs and a decrease in movie-goers and ticket sales, on-demand streaming “will cause a change in how we consume content and allow newer titles to get to home video much faster,” says Asaf Ashkenazi, the COO of Verimatrix, a technology company that works with distributors in Hollywood.

    “If it’s a new title, you can delay it, continue to follow the traditional system and just wait. Or you can be more experimental and go directly to selling or renting online, which will allow more people to access it and get the revenue now.”

    But, how will this play out come award time?

    Roll Out the Red Carpet

    The Oscars traditionally only awarded to films that open in theaters and show for at least 7 days, may be receiving a face lift, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board contemplates rewriting the rules for this year’s awards. And this offers yet another incentive for studios to consider streaming options.

    In these uncertain times, people are looking for normalcy – a break from the news and media outlets, painting fear and uncertainty into their lives.  Production companies would be wise to use this to their benefit and their bottom line. And to monitor online trends around what kinds of movies are resonating with viewers during these trying times. Reach out and we’ll show you how to do just that!

  • 19 Mar 2020 11:31 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    SMRA - Social Media today just sent out this Facebook update: 

    As it seeks to play its part in keeping people informed about the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook has announced that it's rolling out a new COVID-19 Information Center panel, which will be featured at the top of all user News Feeds for the foreseeable future.

    Facebook COVID-19 panel

    As you can see here, the new information panel will feature the latest official news and updates on the outbreak, as well as links to helpful articles, videos and posts about social distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.

    "People can also follow the Coronavirus Information Center to receive updates from health authorities directly in their News Feed. And starting in the US, people will see features to help them connect with local groups and ask for or offer help within their community."

    It's the latest in Facebook's range of efforts to provide assistance amid the evolving crisis - among other additions, Facebook has:

    The Social Network is clearly stepping up to provide support where it can - Facebook's various pledges thus far cumulatively add up to more than $150 million in direct funding, and it's announcing more initiatives every day.

    But these new information panels may actually prove to be the most significant addition yet. Facebook is accessed by 1.66 billion individuals every day, a number that, if anything, will likely increase amid the current push on social isolation. And importantly, a rising number of those users also get news content from the platform. 

    In many applications, this is problematic, as incendiary news reports tend to get more traction on the platform, fueling societal division, but in this instance, the reliance on Facebook for news makes it a key vehicle for the communication up to date, comprehensive, accurate information on the outbreak.

    It's also a good situation for Facebook to showcase its value in a news delivery sense - and how its plans for a dedicated news tab have value, despite certain concerns.  

    In addition to this, Facebook is also making its Workplace Advanced platform available to government agencies and emergency services free of charge for 12 months.

    Facebook Workplace

    "These organizations play a vital role during the coronavirus outbreak, whether it’s acting as first responders or coordinating public information. Workplace can help inform and connect their employees, allowing them to share critical information in real-time and enabling leadership to reach employees via live videos, posts and more."

    Amid the chaos and disruption of the outbreak, Facebook is taking the initiative to showcase its value, and how it can contribute to uniting us, as opposed to the opposite. The various initiatives coming out of its Menlo Park HQ are significant and valuable, and will go a long way to helping as we all work to navigate this new normal. And ideally, come out better on the other side.  

    The new information center panels will initially be rolled out to users in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, the UK and the US, before expanding to more countries "in the coming days". 

    Follow Andrew Hutchinson on TwitterPRINT

  • 10 Mar 2020 8:13 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    For years we’ve complained that one has had to go back to the early 2010s to find an exciting new social-media application. This past year might finally have broken the curse: irresistibly shareable personalized video clips from celebrities and being able to be a text chain with your favorite celebs show that there’s still room for novel ideas to go mainstream even in the face of one giant owning several major social platforms. In addition, 2019 brought both the rise of social shopping as well as the return of niche networks for communities that make far less sense being dumped into a one-size-fits-all group.

    1. CAMEO

    For creating the “famous faces on demand” platform, where fans pay for personal videos from more than 30,000 celebrities

    While it was launched in 2017, this past year marks the Chicago-based company’s pop-culture arrival. Both a utility for, and seemingly the next evolution of modern celebrity, the “famous faces on demand” service allows consumers to book celebrities to create personalized video shout-outs for anything from birthdays to good-luck wishes as well as prom invitations and marriage proposals. In 2019, the company’s employee headcount went from 18 to 135, while participating celebs skyrocketed from 3,000 to more than 20,000. Cameo also expanded internationally to the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, and raised $50 million in Series B financing.

    Read more about why Cameo is one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2020.


    For giving notable people like Kerry Washington and Jennifer Lopez the ability to text their fans—and receive texts back

    Launched in summer 2019, this text-based social platform provides celebrities, artists, and their fans a walled garden to connect, away from the prying eyes of trolls, and providing the stars with more information about their fans—age, location, and so forth—than they’re able to get from traditional social like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. So far, Community has kept its numbers deliberately low, less than a thousand celebrities and artists, but it’s an impressive cross section, including Ashton Kutcher (also an investor) Kerry Washington, Dwayne Johnson, Amy Schumer, Paul McCartney, Ninja, and more. Star music manager and Kutcher’s investment partner in Sound Ventures Guy Oseary told Fast Company, “The point is now we don’t have to rely on platforms that share all of our information that don’t give [artists] the information directly. They’re all great platforms for broadcast. We all need them. We all use them. They’re awesome. But if I want to have a more meaningful, more direct connection, [Community] is the platform of the future.”


    For finding new ways to convert inspiration into transactions

    The visual social network has evolved significantly over the past year, growing to about 335 million monthly active users, which is an increase of 26% year over year, outpacing the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Its U.S. audience was up 8% in 2019, while international audience growth was 35%. In terms of revenue, the company made $400 million in 2019 Q4, up 46% year-over-year, taking its 2019 total up to $1.14 billion. Back in September 2019, Pinterest introduced Shop The Look ads that allows advertisers to feature multiple products in a single ad, making it easier for users to buy more stuff from one image. Then in January 2020, it launched Try On, powered by Lens, that allows users to virtually try makeup products from brands like Estée Lauder, Sephora, bareMinerals, Neutrogena, and L’Oreal. Pin that.


    For making Instagram’s “link in bio” into a sleek menu for sharing articles, merch, or paid partnerships

    This Australian company started in 2016 as a way to clear out the “link in bio” clutter from brands and others on Instagram trying to connect followers and their products. Now it links up social followers with your entire online ecosystem, using one link to direct people toward the e-commerce or other content that matters for any business or brand. Over the past year, Linktree averaged 10,000 signups a day, growing its active users by 200% to more than three million, with over 40% of traffic coming from sources other than Instagram, including Twitch, YouTube, and Pinterest. In July 2019, Chance the Rapper used it in his partnership with Lyft to launch his album The Big Day, giving fans the option to download it for free or donate to the Chicago Public Schools through SocialWorks, all within the Lyft app.

    5. LOOSID

    For connecting sober people with each other

    Founded in 2018, Loosid is a digital sober community that makes dating, travel, and socializing easier for those who refrain from alcohol. When nonalcoholic beverages are worth $7 billion more than just four years ago, and zero- or low-alcohol beer is the fifth-fastest growing beer type, Loosid is tapping into the occasions around these trends. In early 2020, the company launched Boozeless Guides, inside looks at local restaurants and bars across the United States that offer alcohol-free drink options.


    For looping in more than 2 billion monthly views and 22 million fans to its TikTok talk show

    Flighthouse was on TikTok when it was still called, and now generates two billion monthly views. The channel passed the 20-million-follower mark this past year, up from 16.8 million. In early 2020, it launched a new music-focused, short-form show on Tik Tok called \”Certified Superfan,” as part of its partnership with Republic Records. Flighthouse has worked with such artists as Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande, but also helps lesser-known artists boost their profiles. Their campaign with Niki averaged more than 100,000 reposts a week, turning her track “Indigo” into a Top-5 trending song on TikTok.

    7. HOLLER

    For powering 1 billion animated conversation stickers a day in iMessage, Twitch, and more

    Long the go-to app to have as many animated emoji options to ask your friends if they want to grab some pizza, the New York-based company rebranded from Emogi to Holler, and took its intelligent AI-powered, animated visual content for messaging apps and expanded to create sticker campaigns for brands like Ikea, Snickers, Bud Light, Fox, and Subway. At the same time, it expanded to bring animated content to such platforms as Badoo and Venmo. It grew in 2019 from being a part of a billion messaging conversations a month to a billion a day.

    8. MEWE

    For building the only social network with no ads, no targeting, and a privacy bill of rights

    Given its myriad of challenges around privacy, advertising, and user data, anything with a sales pitch that sounds like the anti-Facebook merits attention. Since 2018, MeWe has grown at a 405% rate, and it hit five million members by mid-2019 and closed a $4.5 million offering, bringing the company’s total funds raised to $15 million. Internet pioneer Tim Berners-Lee is a board member, and says of the company, “MeWe gives the power of the internet back to the people with a platform built for collaboration and privacy.”

    9. REVEL

    For helping women over 50 gather for friendship

    While most social startups focus on becoming the next flashy digi-bauble of whatever generation is coming next, Revel’s goal is to create a nationwide subscription-based network tailored to women over the age of 50, helping them foster new relationships. Still in its early stages, so far it has a community of 500 users, and has $2.5 million in funding led by Forerunner Ventures. Age may be just a number, but the number of people in an often-forgotten social demographic—like the opportunity it represents—is huge.


    For re-creating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on Twitch

    To mark the 50th anniversary of the achievement of President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 “Moonshot” speech, the library partnered with its marketing agency Digitas to create JFK Moonshot, a fully synchronized, augmented-reality app that re-created Apollo 11 where every moment, maneuver, and milestone unfolded in real time, second by second, precisely 50 years later. It also followed the lunar mission on social media in real time, using almost 110 hours of Apollo 11 audio transmissions, fullscreen 3D animations, and live Twitter feeds in the voice of the astronauts. With more than 240 million brand impressions, the effort helped a new generation of Americans experience and get excited about space exploration.

    A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Fast Company magazine.

  • 19 Feb 2020 9:21 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Our partners over at Clemson's Social Media Listening Center will be analyzing online conversations around this year's elections. 

    Michael Staton, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences

    February 18, 2020


    Social Media Listening Center

    Clemson faculty will take advantage of powerful social media analytics to inform political polling.

    Clemson University will revive and modernize its Palmetto Poll by combining social media analytics with traditional polling methods in the statewide public opinion survey. Clemson faculty involved in the Palmetto Poll are already gathering data from political conversation using the university’s Social Media Listening Center in order to inform polling activities around the 2020 Democratic primary and the 2020 presidential election.

    The poll has contributed to the public dialogue among South Carolinians since 1999 by sharing information about the attitudes, behaviors and characteristics of the state’s voters obtained through traditional polling methods. Bruce Ransom, professor in Clemson’s political science department, has served as co-director of the poll since its inception. Ransom said the center is one of the few of its kind in the country, and with the political conversation increasingly moving online, it will prove to be a valuable tool in providing information on voter attitudes.

    “We’re excited to partner with faculty and students in the Social Media Listening Center to continually monitor political conversation,” Ransom said. “It is now common sense to start with online conversation to acquire data that will accompany and inform any traditional polling we perform in the coming months.”

    The entirety of the Palmetto Poll’s participating faculty and resources come from Clemson’s College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences. Ransom and other faculty members began analyzing data on various social media platforms in May 2019. Steven Miller, associate professor in Clemson’s political science department, saw the benefit of leveraging the capabilities of the center to identify and begin monitoring keywords and attitudes toward candidates as the Democratic primary contenders emerged.

    The center’s technology allows searches to be as broad or narrow as users require them to be, so by fine-tuning search criteria, faculty can drill down on South Carolina residents’ social activity and attitudes toward political topics.

    By continually monitoring keywords and mentions of primary candidates’ names, the center’s technology allows faculty to monitor general “buzz” around candidates as well as how successfully media coverage has fanned discussion of political topics on social media. Miller said the real power of the center will come as conversation and the topic of the day changes leading up to elections.

    “The center is a powerful tool simply because we can augment searches and add new searches on the fly as the conversation changes,” Miller said. “We are also looking forward to engaging with social users and asking them questions directly through each social platform.”

    Miller said faculty have addressed the potential unrepresentative samples that social media can provide by developing a sampling framework and statistical technique to generate state-level estimates of public opinion. Miller said this technique will meet or exceed response rates to random digit dialing techniques, which have long been considered the gold standard of public opinion polling.

    This is not the first time the listening center has been tapped to monitor conversation around elections. According to Joseph Mazer, chair of Clemson’s communication department that houses the listening center, faculty and regional news networks have worked with the center to monitor political conversation in real time, most notably overnight during the 2016 presidential election.

    However, he sees this new approach to the Palmetto Poll as a truly unique way to employ the listening center as a political research hub. Both the communication and political science departments are housed within Clemson’s College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, and Mazer said he hopes this is the start of an ongoing college initiative that will foster quality research, public engagement and student learning.

    “It is always exciting to see the center used in new and creative ways, and as users get more acclimated to the powerful technology that powers the center, searches and results will only get better and more accurate,” Mazer said. “The center will go far in making the Palmetto Poll as reliable and relevant as any other poll in the state and across the nation.”

    Ransom, political science professor emeritus David Woodard, social media professor Will Henderson and several student researchers will staff the Social Media Listening Center in the lead up to South Carolina’s Feb. 29 Democratic primary election. Faculty and students will offer media availability on the following dates:

    Feb. 25, 2–11 p.m. – social media coverage of the Democratic presidential primary debate

    Feb. 26 at 11 a.m. – press conference announcing the results of the Palmetto Poll, led by Ransom and Woodard, with a prediction on the winner of the Feb. 29 Democratic presidential primary election

    Feb. 29, 2-11 p.m. – social media coverage of the Democratic presidential primary election

    The Social Media Listening Center is located in Daniel Hall Room 304 on the Clemson University campus.

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