Social Mapping – streetwise research

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Concert crowd

Social Mapping is a new and exciting field of media research and market intelligence.  It builds upon traditional research techniques by mining unique insights from the social web that can be continuously tracked and updated.

Social Mapping has many applications, but one key area where it’s making an impact is in the field of Custom Content creation.

Custom Content plays an important role in the marketing mix for a growing number of brands and organisations.  It’s objective is to help companies engage more deeply with their customers and convert positive content experiences into new sales.

The natural providers of Custom Content are established media owners, who traditionally have the creative and editorial skills to produce compelling material.  But what media owners often lack is the deep and specialised domain knowledge of the clients who need their Custom Content services.

Without a sufficiently high level of knowledge about a client’s market, media owners are less able to produce content that will impress an informed or savvy target audience. This is a handicap that can sink new relationships.

The answer to this problem is Social Mapping.

Social Mapping delivers a fast and immersive deep-dive into the latest trends shaping a target field of interest.  It’s role is to bring media research, content teams and client account managers quickly up to speed on key trends shaping a client’s market.

Social Mapping is a fusion of classic media research techniques and advanced social data analytics.  It rests upon massive ‘Big-Data’ audits of web articles, news items and message posts that reflect a target research theme.

The process identifies global, regional or local communities of interest engaged with a topic.  It pin-points influential groups or individuals leading trends and opinion within a community and the key topics of interest or debate currently at play.  It equips research editorial and CRM teams with the contact details they need to monitor or reach out to Influencers in the market.

Social Mapping gives media owners, agencies and brand advertisers ‘live’ access to key developments within a community of interest as they happen.  But crucially it also provides a rigorous, high level framework for understanding fast-moving market trends.

Social Mapping delivers a state-of-the-art knowledge base for any consumer market sector or professional specialisation.  It reveals deeply practical, even street-wise, market insights about relationships of influence, vested interests and the evolution of trends that are largely opaque to traditional research methods.

We’d like to begin a conversation about how your company can benefit from the actionable market insights that Social Mapping can deliver.  You can reach us today by email to discuss recent case studies – we respond directly to every message we receive.

Colourtext creates biggest ever TV + Twitter study of its kind

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In April 2014 Colourtext collected and analysed every tweet that could be positively identified as coming out of the Republic of Ireland on behalf of TAM Ireland, the country’s official TV ratings agency.  The objective was to better understand the strong connection between social media and TV.

A total of 15,600,000 messages were found to be generated by 170,000 Irish Twitter users. To our knowledge this Twitter study is the biggest and most comprehensive independent study of social media use in a single national market.  It’s findings are important for other advanced markets and media cultures like the US and UK.

The Sunday Times in Ireland has written an article about the study (with colour images), the text of which is copied  below.  You can read an Executive Summary of the TAM Ireland report here.

The television has been revolutionised

What’s on the box is one of the biggest preoccupations of Ireland’s Twitter users, reveals first study

Siobhán Maguire Published: 13 July 2014

IRISH Twitter users are telly addicts, 43% of them tweet at least once each month about TV shows they are watching [this first line has been corrected to address an editorial inaccuracy in the original article]

Findings from a study, the first of its kind, to monitor how people in Ireland use Twitter, also highlight an obsession with sports, our bodies, food and music.

TAM Ireland, the country’s television audience measuring service, commissioned the research, which studied 15.6m tweets by 170,000 users during April.

Jason Brownlee, the chief executive officer of Colourtext, a British data firm that conducted the study, said: “The results show us that patterns of peak viewing and the times when we use social media frequently overlap. It’s therefore not surprising that viewing and social media use often go hand in hand with each other.

“Viewers use social media to read other people’s live comments about a show and sometimes contribute a comment of their own. This adds to the fun and sense of engagement an audience feels with a programme. We expect this ‘second screen’ dynamic to play a bigger role in television formats in the future.”

The programme most tweeted about was the fourth series of Game of Thrones, which premiered in Ireland on Sky Atlantic on April 7. The second most tweeted about show was WWE WrestleMania, a pay-per-view event watched online. Tonight with Vincent Browne, TV3’s current affairs show, which is on each week from Monday to Thursday was the third most popular forum.

“The most highly tweeted shows are relatively niche ‘passion’ franchises such as Game of Thrones and WWE WrestleMania,” said Brownlee. “A vibrant social media fan culture has grown up around these shows, reflecting deep passion and commitment.

“In previous studies, we have suggested such shows can be poor ratings performers but their long-term content franchise value can be massive and often lies beyond the scope of conventional advertising revenue streams. This study backs up those findings.

“For instance, Star Trek’s early ratings in the 1960s were so poor that CBS threatened to pull the show after the first series. However, an unprecedented letter-writing campaign by fans of the show stayed its execution.”

Jill McGrath, TAM Ireland’s chief executive, said: “The findings tell us that 43% of all contributors tweeted about television during April. This 43% are among the heaviest tweeters and are the chattering classes of the 21st century.

“TV content has a powerful influence over the content of other media. It is the medium around which all others revolve. We wanted to understand that conversation a little better, which is why we commissioned the study.”

McGrath said the findings about our TV/tweeting habits show that users are most active at 10pm during the week. At weekends, tweeting about telly peaks at around 8pm when programmes such as The Voice of Ireland and Britain’s Got Talent are being aired.

“The two shows that generated the highest number of tweets in a five-minute period were WWE WrestleMania and EastEnders around the death of Lucy Beale [one of the show’s characters],” said McGrath.

The most popular sports tweets related to Manchester United being beaten by Bayern Munich in the Champions League; the future of its then manager, David Moyes; closely followed by speculation that Liverpool had a chance of winning the Premier League title.

People also felt compelled to share what they were eating as they were tweeting, or what they planned to eat later. There was a lot of moaning about diets and sharing of guilt over indulging in treats or sugary snacks. Commentary on personal appearance or how another person looked was another popular topic.

“Tweets are often written when someone is alone, which can make it feel like an intimate kind of communication, even though you’re wide-casting it to a large group of friends and followers,” said Brownlee.

Eugenia Siapera, chair of social media studies MA at Dublin City University, said determining a strong link between a social media outlet such as Twitter and television made sense.

“What is being tweeted is what we deal with and talk about in our everyday lives and to expect Twitter to be any different is counter-intuitive,” she said.

Siapera said that while politics and social issues are also important they are overshadowed in social media by lighter, less serious matters.

If you’d like to learn more about the methodology or data from this study please get in touch – we’d be happy to answer your questions.

The new Sherlock and social media fan culture

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We recently posted a blog article that reported on a study by Nielsen in the US. It found a weak relationship between the size of a TV show’s official audience ratings and the number of Twitter messages it stimulated.

We thought this was a great example of the disjoint between traditional media research and the new field of social data analytics.

Our post reflected on the contrast between poor early audience ratings for Star Trek in the 60s, and its future billion dollar value as a content franchise.

We are finding that the concept of ‘Future Content Franchise Value’ can help us see what social media data is telling us about evolving audience relationships with TV, radio, music and film.

We also think that ‘second screen’ activity is changing how audiences relate to linear TV content.  Each of these points seem to be connected with the phenomenon of social media fan culture.

To explore this idea further we analysed 120,000 Twitter messages generated by the first episode of the new Sherlock series, aired on 1st January 2014.

We used our latest semantic analysis techniques to identify key patterns of attitude and behaviour before, during and after the show. Our main findings are:

1. Emotional responses to Sherlock were complex, layered, often contradictory and constantly changing in response to on-screen characters, narratives and action

2. Binary emotional or evaluative metrics such as generalised ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ sentiments can give a misleading picture of viewer experiences

3. Social media fan culture related to a TV show is indicative of longterm content franchise value

You can download an teaser version of our Sherlock report here in Powerpoint format. If you think it’s interesting and would like to see more of the report we’d be delighted to hear from you.

You can reach Colourtext directly by emailing

Twitter’s verdict on Lorde: impressive new singer-songwriter

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Lorde is a new singer-songwriter from New Zealand, just 16 and she’s ignited a fire on Twitter.

Colourtext algorithms analysed 1 million tweets about Lorde to find the substance behind the hype, and see if it can last.

This video brings our analysis to life and illustrates the kind of insights that lie buried within social data.

To learn more about how Colourtext analyses social data from sources like Facebook, Tumblr, blogs and Twitter, please get in touch with

Social analytics are rubbish – discuss

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To date, the strongest driver for social analytics investment has been to engage in rear-guard fire fights when bad karma about a brand gets propagated through social networks.

A whole industry of dashboards, social metrics and stat analytics has sprung up to service this need. Indeed, an interesting new form of Social-CRM is beginning to emerge.

That’s fine so far as it goes, but there’s a general suspicion it severely underestimates the full contribution that social listening data could, and should, make to business success.

We often hear marketing, research and communication professionals dismiss the producers and users of these tools as mere “number-wangers”.

This indicates that Social Listening, and the social analytics industry that promotes it, is getting something badly wrong. There are lots of viewpoints on this issue, but here’s ours.

People who use buzz monitoring systems continue to stare at reams of natural language messages and text, shovelled faithfully onto their PC screens by social analytics platforms, and still wonder, “what does it all mean, what are the narrative around my brand?”

We’re not saying the social analytics emperor is wearing no clothes, but it feels darn close sometimes. The intuition, the overriding faith, expressed by most social analysts I speak to is that something useful must be buried away under all that text data. But no one is really feeling the love yet.

People want ‘insights’, preferably ‘actionable’ insights if they can get them. So, what does that mean?

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