How social data drives qualitative insight

“It takes about 10 years to become an overnight success.”

I think this is from Jeff Bezos.

It’s an idea that’s helped.

We started about 10 years ago, with a simple truth.

That people don’t talk to researchers the way they talk to other people.

But they do on social media.

It became our mission to help brands make the most of this new source of human insight.

Fast forward a bit.

2020 has fully loaded our To-Do list.

Things to respond to… social change, check. Political change, check. Economic change, check. Might as well chuck existential change in for good measure…

Our social conversations run through and connect these changes. They show how we’re living our lives amid this turmoil, what’s important and why.

Social media was already playing a big role in our lives.

Covid and lockdown have amplified this.

At a time when traditional qual research is heavily constrained, social data is very much still open for business.

People have turned to social more than ever. They want to see what others are doing, thinking and feeling. They need help working out what to do, to validate their actions – to find comfort and support.

This gives us so much great, deep data to work with.

We’re all adjusting to new ways of working.

We’re trying out new tools and techniques – seeing what fits best.

We know using social data for proper, deep qualitative insight is still quite new for most.

I’d like you to think about giving it a go.

It’s something that can connect you with the tides of change swirling around us.

Here are a few examples of how it could help you…

1. Connect with the moment

This is what people actually share on social – moments in their lives. What they feel, what they think and what they’re doing. As the rhythm of life changes, we can see how these new moments and patterns play out. How are people responding? What do they need? How are they making sense of it all? Harnessing this will help you know what to say, what to do and what to stand for.

Example: we recently helped a global consumer brand get under the skin of a complex emotional need – showing them how best to respond to the needs, context and expectations of their audience.

Result: emotionally engaging, culturally relevant and impactful creative.

2. Follow purchase intent

Social inspires, influences and shapes what we buy. It’s millions of signals that capture what we want and why. We draw these threads together to reveal the ‘social path to purchase’. How are people making decisions? Who do they turn to and trust? What help do they find along the way? What drives their choices?

Example: we worked with a financial services brand to help them understand the awareness, consideration and decision process their target consumers go on.

Result: better targeted digital marketing, a new language to talk to consumers, improved ROI.

3. Track the change

Social remembers. It’s the fossil record of our time. We can use this to see things like, how January’s giddy talk of imagined freedoms compares with lockdown. Today’s conversations become a point in time. Something to look back at to see what’s changed and why. Using social qual techniques allows you to get beneath the surface, to understand how feelings, emotions and concepts are evolving – and to understand what this means to you, now and for tomorrow.

Example: we’ve used this to help a global advertising agency understand how cleaning behaviours are changing in light of Covid and what might stick.

Result: a blueprint for tracking how people adapt practically and emotionally to the health risks of Covid to inform product innovation, comms targeting and messaging, new B2B partnership potential.


A first step is better with an experienced guide for company.

I love talking to people about what can (and can’t) be done with a qualitative approach to social data.

No pressure. No sales nonsense. Just a chat about the possibilities.

Drop me a line if that sounds good.

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