In Early May, we posted a study analyzing the viral phenomenons of the Harlem Shake and PSY’s Gangnam Style. The study, which was created by the global strategic insight agency Facegroup, was one of the first to identify the key components of “going viral.” Last week we had a chance to interview one of the masterminds behind the Facegroup’s social intelligence juggernaut Francesco D’Orazio and below are the results.
What’s the history behind Face? How was it created?
FACE was founded in 2005 as a research and innovation agency. We focussed on collaborative innovation, helping brands develop new products and strategies while involving their audiences in the process. When Social Media took off it was only natural for us to include social data as one of the key streams of our innovation projects.
How much time goes into a research project like Gangnam Style vs. Harlem Shake?
From research design to data collection to data analysis and data visualisation it doesn’t take less than 10 days for a project of that scale.
How does Pulsar TRAC work and how can organizations benefit from this tool?
Pulsar TRAC tracks public social data by keyword, by audience (as defined by interests, location and demographics) or by content (anything that contains a specific URL). Once the data has been collected it augments it with 30 types of metadata built into a unified data model. It then analyses the data and visualizes it in 50 different ways (plus the visualization you can customize yourself). All in the space of milliseconds. We can process thousands of tweets per second.
Companies and organisations are using it for many things: tracking a brand, its competitors or a specific campaign; profile an audience to understand who they are talking to; map an entire product category across the globe to uncover unmet needs, delivering customer service online and optimising the service they deliver. We are also helping brands find their audience online when they don’t have one. We can simulate an audience based on their interests and passions and imagine what would it look like if it existed so that an organisation can fine tune their strategies and deliver something relevant even before it has received any feedback.
What type of organizations would social research and intelligence benefit most?
Having real-time, historical and predictive social insights is invaluable for any organisation because it provides you with information that no customer data carried until now: the interest graph and the social graph of the consumer, which is essential to understand audiences at scale and be able to talk to interact with them in a human way. Which is ultimately the crucial challenge businesses and organisations are facing in the age of social media.
What is the most exciting project that you have worked on thus far?
I’m excited about two series of studies that we recently launched: How Stuff Spreads (of which Gangnam vs Harlem was only the first iteration) and Audiences, which is going to look at comparing audiences of tv shows, newspapers, movies and video games. One of these studies will look at mapping the audiences of Al Jazeera vs Fox, another at the audiences of Game of Thrones vs Madmen.
But what really gets me out of bed is experimenting with public social data and creating new tools for understanding society at scale. One of the NPD projects I’m working on right now for the Pulsar platform is about connecting social media data to the Google Knowledge Graph in order to provide context and deeper understanding in real-time. Another one is integrating collective intelligence in the data mining process to help those little algorithms get a little smarter, and more human in the process. Both are massive projects but early tests have already shown the potential is huge. Looking forward to share more soon!