Market Research

How to get to the top of the #MRX Influencer ranking

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#MRX Influence network image2

Colourtext was asked by Ray Poynter of Vision Critical (@raypoynter) if we could re-run the popular #MRX Influencer ranking we produced for Research Live (@researchlive) back in 2012.

The objective was to find the most influential members of today’s #MRX market research community on Twitter. We also hoped to discover new insights on how Social Influence can be won in any specific market vertical or community of interest.

We dusted off our original ‘market research’ keyword and key phrase list, which included the #mrx hashtag. Data came from Twitter’s public API and the collection period ran from 11th – 28th July 2014 inclusive.

Data cleaning for this re-run was pretty simple – Ray just wanted to focus on Twitter messages that contained the #MRX hashtag. Two small, but interesting, gremlins that came to light were a growing association of #mrx with mountain biking and Bollywood movies (#MrX – i.e. Mr X).

Twitter reflects a dynamic and fast-moving MR industry and Colourtext’s #MRX analysis reveals a new Influence ranking for the MR community. Several of the top Influencers from 2012 remain close to the top of the table but have been joined by a lot of new faces.


#MRX Influencer Top 20 2014

(data source: Colourtext, Twitter Public API) 

Previous #MRX Influencers that remain in the Top 20 include @raypoynter, @researchlive, @jhenning & @lennyism.

Key Influencers from 2012 that have been pushed out of the new Top 20 include @tomhcanderson, @lovestats, @oleandresen

However, it’s important to add the following caveat: the #MRX ranking for 2012 was based upon 12 months of data and a wider keyword list, whereas the latest ranking is based on just 18 days in July and focuses purely on the use of #MRX. It’s possible some of our previous Twitter champs don’t use #MRX that often or were taking a well earned vacation during the latest data collection period!

Nevertheless, the new data provides fascinating insights on what it takes to accrue Influence within a social media context.

Each of the top #MRX Influencers have earned their position because they are good at getting other members of the #MRX user base to engage with their tweets and / or share their content. In this sense it doesn’t always count if you have the biggest number of followers, but we do find that Twitter users generating the greatest number of relevant and on-topic tweets tend to be higher up the table.

For instance, @euromonitor (ranked #1 in July 2014) issued a daily average of 7.8 #MRX tweets, including weekends. Over the course of one particular week they issued 61 tweets containing 25 individual messages, some of which were repeated once a day at different times on up to 5 separate occasions.

However, this doesn’t mean @euromonitor is ‘spamming’ the #MRX network. Because their tweets often contain links to interesting and high-relevance reports they generate a lot of RTs, which contributes significantly to their network Influence. Tweets about the following topics generated the most RTs for @euromonitor:


#MRX Euromonitor Tweet Topics

(data source: Colourtext, Twitter Public API) 

Second position in the 2014 #MRX Influence ranking is occupied by @raypoynter. By using a personal (rather than a corporate) Twitter account Ray takes a different approach to building influence, and it clearly works. Ray authored 106 tweets containing #MRX during the collection period (the second highest overall) covering a wide diversity of message themes.

Interestingly, 46 of Ray’s tweets (43%) were RTs (i.e. re-tweeting other people’s messages) and a further 28 (26%) were replies to other Twitter users. This demonstrates that in contrast to @euromonitor, Ray’s influence rests to a large degree on frequent direct interactions with other members of the #MRX community.

Both of the approaches adopted by @euromonitor and @raypoynter have yielded winning Influencer scores, but how much more effective is one strategy versus the other? The following chart plots the relative degree of Influence acruing to @euromonitor compared to the next 29 #MRX Influencers.


#MRX relative social influence2


It shows that @euromonitor’s Influence score is twice the magnitude of @raypoynter in 2nd position. This suggests @euromonitor’s disciplined approach to selecting message topics, embedding links to reports, re-issuing tweets over multiple days and varying the timing of repeat tweets (perhaps to reflect different time zone needs) can increase Twitter network reach, boost brand awareness and increase perceived credibility within a target community.

For more details on the full #MRX Influencer Analysis please email us and we’ll respond asap.


Twitter vs TV Ratings – when media research and social analytics collide

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Breaking-Bad 570

The recent ‘Breaking Bad’ finale ranked as the most-tweeted show in the US, but it didn’t even break into the top 10 of the official TV ratings list. What gives?

Our friend Matt Hart (@kiwihart) at Innovation Pipeline sent through a great article from Wired Magazine about the relationship between levels of Tweeting around TV shows and official Nielsen TV ratings. If you get time check it out – it’s the best we’ve read on this issue to date.

If you don’t have time here’s a low-down: TV ratings giant Nielsen has discovered a statistically significant link between tweet levels and audience ratings, but the correlation is a long way from perfect.

In short, shows like NCIS get massive official TV ratings but generate very few tweets. On the other hand, the Breaking Bad finale ranked as the most tweeted show in the US but didn’t even break into the top 10 of the official TV ratings list.

Factors like differences in the age profile of a TV show audience compared to that of Twitter’s user base can explain why tweet levels and TV ratings don’t often align closely.

However, Colourtext’s semantic analysis of Twitter data suggests there may actually be a firmer relationship between tweet levels and the content franchise value of a TV show.

Our best shot at defining a ‘content franchise’ goes like this. In the 1960s early seasons of Star Trek achieved mediocre TV ratings. Only the discovery of a vocal cult audience following preserved the show, and eventually led to its development as a multi-billion dollar TV, movie and merchandising content franchise.

The key point is there was nothing in Star Trek’s early TV ratings to predict the long term success and dollar-value of the show as a content franchise. Only the passion of a committed niche audience could have betrayed Star Trek’s future potential.

Which is where things might get interesting with social platforms like Twitter. We now get instant and continuous ‘mega-qualitative’ feedback on TV shows from Twitter. The problem, of course, is reading through the deluge of feedback.

Colourtext’s mantra of “Sarcasm does not compute” has shaped our approach to this challenge. We’ve developed a careful process for semantically analysing Twitter messages about TV shows and other brands, which can reveal a variety of insights, including:

  • - The nature and degree of impact generated by specific on-screen talent or dramatic characters
  • - Brand franchise DNA (the show’s character & innate appeal)
  • - Levels of anticipation or prediction about the outcome of specific plot lines
  • - Levels of engagement or antipathy with specific plot lines
  • - The quality and variety of emotions and themes expressed about the show
  • - Appraisals of individual actors or performers


To wrap up, we think official TV ratings measure one aspect of a TV show’s commercial value – it’s ability to generate advertising revenue.

On the other hand, Twitter message levels might point to a broader set of TV show attributes that signal longer term content-franchise value.

To learn more about how Colourtext analyses Twitter data, and what we can reveal about your brand, please email

Social Listening must evolve into Social Insight

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dinosaurs large

We’ve noticed that a lot of marketing, research and communication professionals are starting to question the true value of investment in social listening and buzz monitoring.

There’s a growing skepticism about the “number-wanging” that seems to characterise social analytics. People intuitively feel that Social Listening has to move forward and develop into a higher value activity that justifies its investment costs.

This is where the concept of ‘Social Insight’, as an evolution of social listening, can be helpful. Users of social analytics products have to go beyond using social listening as merely a way to catch everything that people say about their brands.

This reflects an important, but uncomfortable, fact. Most social conversations don’t involve our brands because, sadly, they don’t occupy the most important position within the hearts and lives of our customers. That privilege belongs to children, lovers, parents and careers.

Instead, we have to broaden our vision and ask how brands fit into the lives of our customers. Why? Because if we only tune into the social conversations that mentions our brands, what else are we missing?

Social listening can help us do this if we recognise it for what it really is.

It’s an opportunity to uncover and examine a massive range of behaviours, perceptions and opinions that would simply be too expensive and time consuming to tackle with conventional ‘asking’ research. Looked at from this angle, the true value of social data becomes clearer. What else opens up a continuous, real-time window into customer brand experiences? Where else do people spontaneously broadcast their personal ‘punch-the-air’ or ‘punch-the-cushion’ brand moments? What can offer a comparably sincere, real and colourful reflection of brand perception and sentiment? Brands that understand this are more likely to move forward from ‘social-listening-as-firefighting’ to Social Insight. Wouldn’t that be a good thing?

To find out more about Colourtext, you can download our presentation “Introduction to Colourtext” here.

If you would like to get in touch with Colourtext please email

Social Media Feedback vs Market Research

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Red-Boxing-Gloves-2 (1)

Consumers around the world generate an avalanche of social media chatter every day.  This material arrives in the form of unstructured messages and text, much of which can be useful feedback for brands and organisations.

Most business people and marcomms professionals recognise this trend and consequently invest a lot of money in social web ‘listening’ platforms.

As this trend unfolds it appears the market research industry is being pushed, perhaps against its will, from a classic “consumer research” model into a new era of “consumer feedback”.

This new era is characterised by client demands to integrate social media feedback into brand development processes, business strategy and marcomms evaluation.

This presents a dilemma for classically trained market researchers, who could be said to have a prickly relationship with social media feedback.

This may be due to a healthy respect for classic principles of statistical science, structured sample design, controlled recruitment and ethical interviewing practices etc. Professionals steeped in classic market research (MR) discipline can be forgiven for harbouring grave reservations about unstructured social web data.

However, I believe the MR community can and should take the lead in developing rigorous methods for integrating social media feedback into the unfolding picture of contemporary brand and media relationships.

We should not fear social media feedback as a dangerous rival to, or replacement for, structured MR practices. Indeed, a more rigorous approach to harnessing the value of social media can yield real benefits for MR professionals and their organisations.

For instance, social media captures feedback from consumer groups that are becoming harder (and more expensive) for conventional research techniques to reach.

In additional, such feedback is often spontaneous and sincere; it’s also very rich and colourful. It offers qualitative insights at quantitative scales (sometimes I think of it as ‘mega qual’).

Perhaps most interestingly, when consumers freely choose to express topics of personal interest in a manner that suits themselves, it overcomes the tendency of classic research to ‘frame’ audience responses. In other words, sometimes we only get answers to the questions we ask.

Throughout my career I’ve commissioned small ‘quick and dirty’ focus group projects prior to quant studies in order to guard against this problem. Now I think social media feedback gives me the basis for a more robust solution to this challenge.

Perhaps only the classically trained MR community has the skill-set needed to safely embrace social media feedback as a powerful compliment to classic audience research.

As the MR industry moves forward from a classic model of ‘consumer research’ to a new era of ‘consumer feedback’, MR professional can take control of their destiny by developing the rigorous techniques clients need to safely integrate rich social media feedback into existing consumer research and data analysis processes.

To find out more about Colourtext, you can download our presentation “Introduction to Colourtext” here.

If you would like to get in touch with Colourtext please email

Why do people still listen to radio – is it a social network thing?

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Red radio

At Colourtext we live happily on both sides of the great divide that splits the modern media research industry.

On the one hand we’re excited about our work in the emerging science of Social Insight, which is shaping the future of social media. And on the other we’re passionate about our work in traditional media like TV and Radio.

Indeed, radio is the the world’s most venerable wireless broadcast medium, so it’s particularly interesting to watch how new technologies are changing the way we consume audio content, and even changing the way think about ‘radio’.

The Web now offers radio listeners customisable music choice, higher quality audio, mobile apps that stream music, advert-free content (or at least more relevant advertising), social features, and so many other exciting benefits it’s a wonder more people don’t use it.

Why do so many of us still listen to conventional radio?

There are many answers to this question (check out this thread on <>). But our experience of developing both radio brands and new social media technologies leads us to a new conclusion. Here’s our thought.

Listening to radio is rarely a lonely experience; indeed, people explicitly switch on the radio for ‘company’. Listeners often say it feels like a DJ is in the same room or car with them, and that can feel nice.

However, even when the DJ isn’t speaking listeners feel aware that other people they know are experiencing the same thing, at the same point in time, as they are.

This makes the live radio listening experience feel more ‘real’ or ‘alive’ than time-shifted media consumption or iPod listening sessions. This is probably because listeners feel, at some important psychological level, that they’re not the only witness to their subjective experience.

However, I think this only comes into play when listeners have ‘real space’ (rather than ‘virtual’ or ‘online-only’) relationships with other people that shared the same live radio experience.

For instance, if I read a forum post from a guy in California (I live in England) about an internet radio show I heard yesterday, it isn’t the same as knowing my work colleague or best mate listened to the same FM breakfast show as I did this morning.

I don’t think the vehicle or the medium through which a live-radio audio experience is delivered is actually as important to listeners as knowing (perhaps anticipating?) what other people in one’s ‘real space’ social network are also tuning into.

Today, most people I know through real-space relationships find that broadcast wireless radio (FM/ AM/ DAB) is the easiest and most convenient way to access popular live radio.

However, I don’t think anyone cares too much if other, equally convenient media technologies appear, just so long as they make it easy to access the live radio experiences that I and my ‘real space’ neighbours like to ‘share’ and talk about.

To find out more about Colourtext, you can download our presentation “Introduction to Colourtext” here.

If you would like to get in touch with Colourtext please email