4 min read
Jerome Maisch - Feb 6, 2013

5 Innovative & Original Uses of Social Media Data


With over half a billion tweets per day and one billion Facebook users, social networks contain a veritable ocean of data and there is no shortage of organizations who want to leverage this new public data stream.

Academic researchers have been quick to harness the free flowing information from Twitter, Facebook and other social networks and we predict that in 2013 social media intelligence will become much more commonplace as businesses, government agencies and not-for-profit organisations seek to leverage this new, unparalleled wealth of information.

Here are 5 Innovative uses of social media to gather valuable insights:

1. Detect Early Signs of Adverse Drug Reactions

Researchers from the University of Virginia are using information from Twitter, blogs, and online discussions to track adverse drug reactions. The scale of the project could be broadened in the future to establish a reliable database for medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies to monitor reactions to drugs in real-time.

According to Ahmed Abassi, one of the professors leading the research: “Many companies already use social media to identify consumer sentiment and product perceptions. When accurately analyzed, social media is often proving to be more reliable and timely than traditional media. It’s not a big leap to use social media to glean product safety feedback.”

2. Detect Changes in the Public Mood

Is it possible to gauge the mood of a nation by analyzing our collective wittering on social media? A team of researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK have done precisely that. They analyzed 484 million tweets, that were generated by more than 9.8 million users from the UK, between July 2009 and January 2012. Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that the national mood was strongly correlated with the economic circumstances of the time, with negative mood indicators coinciding with the announcement of austerity measures and heightened social tension.

3. Find out Who Got Funded?

In March 2012, our very talented crew in Digimind launched a website called WhoGotFunded.com. Using advanced data mining technologies, the purpose of the site is to track global funding deals in real-time and can provide users with an email alert whenever a venture capital funding deal takes place.

The website relies on a range of sources to detect new deals, such as web news and the Securities and Exchange Commission for identifying funding news within the United States. It relies heavily on Twitter to track mentions of funding news taking place in the rest of the world.

4. Help Auto Manufacturers find Vehicle Defects

One of the truly great things about Social Media (and also one of its worst aspects) is it operates as a pressure relief valve that allows you to release daily frustrations in a series of vexed tweets or Facebook updates. Instead of suffering silently when you’re stranded at an airport, in a traffic jam or when your car breaks down, or if you’ve been at the receiving end of blisteringly incompetent customer service (it happens a lot, apparently) you can just tweet, facebook, blog or spill forth your annoyance on a message board. A problem shared is a problem halved.

This fact has not escaped researchers at Viriginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. They’ve decided to go searching for customer generated content about vehicle defects from owners of Honda, Toyota, and Chevrolet. This content is then analyzed for safety and performance issues. It’s believed to be the first large-scale case study confirming the value of social media for vehicle quality management. According to Alan Abrahams, assistant professor of business information technology who co-led the project "A lot of useful but hidden data on vehicle quality is embedded in social media that is largely untapped by auto manufacturers.”

5. Saving Dolphins (and their ecosystem)

This is a definite contender for one of the most noble uses of social media ever. Scientists in Australia’s Duke University used data from social media (Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube) to document ecosystems and development in Western Australia in an impressive bid to protect "the last great marine wilderness left on Earth".

By using the digital footprint of volunteers to map the state of coastal ecosystems, in particular the snubfin and humpback dolphins, researchers were able to detect where human activities and marine resources overlap and potentially conflict. It’s easy to imagine how a similar social media mapping project could be extended into other areas of conservation to monitor the status of endangered and threatened plants and animals.

For more information on how Digimind can help you to improve your social listening strategy and to extract useful insights from Social Media contact us today for a web demo 

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Written by Jerome Maisch

Marketing Manager @digimindci. Passionate about big data & social marketing. Photography, music and hiking lover