As part of the evaluation for the Active Strategy, it’s important that we trial new and emerging technologies to promote and measure levels of physical activity in Calderdale. One such technology is social media research software.
Traditional market research asks questions of participants. Social media research delivers insights from naturally occurring conversations across a wide range of groups. There are now tools that can monitor online discussions and opinions, with this data offering useful insights to us in several ways.
Part one of this three-part series on our social media research covers why we decided to trial social media listening, and what the process was to make it happen.
The active strategy aims to ensure that everyone in Calderdale is able to live a larger life, for longer through Physical Activity.
In order to gauge the success of our interventions, we need a baseline to outline how active people are today, and then we can identify any change when we make changes. There are several measures outlined within the active strategy; social media research was chosen to highlight what was being written about in Calderdale, and which groups, institutions and individuals were most vocal in promoting physical activity.
We reached out to two local companies who specialise in social media research. Brighouse based Visformatics were chosen due to their background in social media research within the healthcare industry. Their partner organisation ROKT is also a significant contributor to physical activity in the area, so their expertise was clear.
Given the scope of the project and the uncertainty around the findings, the decision was made to run a trial 2-year retrospective analysis; to enable us to look back over the past two years at mentions of physical activity in the borough, and build insight from there.
The process began by putting together a brief with key questions for the research:
- What is being said about physical activity in Calderdale?
- How often are people publishing content regarding physical activity?
- What are these people posting, what are the key terms, themes, activities and hashtags?
- Demographics of those posting on social media (male/female/teenager/pensioner)?
- Which activities are best represented in social media?
- Which organisations receive the most mentions?
- Which individuals are promoting physical activity in Calderdale?
- Sentiment analysis around physical / language relating to activity
This was very much an exercise in finding out what was possible; nothing like his had ever been done before in the borough.
Working together with Visformatics, we produced a list of specific keywords and phrases around physical activity. This list contained around 500 terms, which certainly didn’t cover everything, but was enough to get us started.
Our first challenge was how we were going to identify the mentions that originating from Calderdale. Recent changes to the privacy landscape on personal data means that only a small portion of people provide location data.
This required an “out of the box” solution – we decided not only to filter for our physical activity terms, but also for terms which would enable us to locate where the conversation was taking place. We produced a list of community assets and landmarks for each of the five localities, which included parks, monuments, road names, town and village names, community centres, gyms, libraries and more. If one of our keywords was mentioned within the same post as one of our locations, then we could be relatively certain that the subject of the post was physical activity in Calderdale. The search query became more and more complex with hundreds of terms, tags and correlations to run. Visformatics spent 10 weeks gathering data and creating insights, working hand-in-hand with Calderdale’s communications team.
Want to learn more? Continue on to Part 2: our findings.