Hannah Knowles


April 28, 2023

The power of social media in research

We focus our research methods into understanding what's happening right now with your product, service or users so you can drive decisions for future users.

The Covid-19 pandemic had a big impact on the ways we approach and conduct research. Since 2020, far more research has been conducted digitally, with a much more open attitude towards the potential benefits of social media mining. In this blog, we explore some of the benefits and challenges of research using social media. 

What is social media mining?

Social media mining sounds far more complicated than it really is. It refers to the process of searching, analysing and presenting patterns and trends from social media data. 

This data can be in the form of posts, comments and conversations. It can also include online behaviours, interactions between users and buying behaviours. Patterns and trends can be incredibly useful for companies as part of their research, offering insights into consumer behaviour and attitudes on a broad scale. 

What are the benefits of utilizing social media for research?

  1. It’s accessible to everyone. 

Not only is social media mining valuable, but it’s also an accessible form of research for companies in the very earliest stages of development - requiring just time and attention to detail to get started. 

  1. The opportunity to engage with more people and less accessible groups.

When utilizing social media for research, you’re no longer working with tiny pools of people the way you would with typical focus groups or interviews. Social media offers access to a broader range of people, all over the world - including marginalised groups who may be difficult to reach via traditional recruitment methods.

  1. The ability to observe trends across social platforms. 

By observing interactions across multiple platforms, you can investigate trends on a large scale. Individual comments can be taken as starting points for wider research - delving into broader conversations and seeing how they influence experiences of products or services. 

  1. The secret value of online forums. 

One of the most undervalued and widely accessible tools for social media research is online forums. Platforms like Reddit and Mumsnet offer a wealth of information and a wide range of people to engage with. 

There’s nothing more brutal than somebody anonymised in a comment section’ says our founder, Hannah. Anonymity can give people the confidence to offer their unfiltered opinions in a way you may not achieve in face-to-face research. 

What about the challenges of using social media for research? 

  1. The scale of social media data can be intimidating. 

The vast amount of information on social media platforms can be a lot for an individual to analyse. For those wanting to take on social media mining on a larger scale, paid platforms like Talkwalker offer automated software to help sift through large amounts of data to ensure you’re only seeing the posts relevant to your research. 

  1. Private groups and forums often yield high-value data. 

This is particularly true in healthcare. Private groups have long provided people with a safe space to discuss symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments for specific conditions - allowing them to connect with others on similar journeys. However, these groups can be more difficult to access and require permission to utilise data for research. 

  1. Social media censorship is biased against women. 

Social media algorithms have been shown to be biased, particularly when it comes to online content discussing women’s health. Because women’s bodies are inherently sexualised, educational content is often deemed inappropriate by algorithms and censored. This creates a challenge when trying to conduct balanced research using social media. 

Why does social media research matter in FemTech?

The rise of social media has provided women with a space to share health experiences they may not have discussed in other social settings. This increase in conversation led to more education and consequently more innovation in women’s health and femtech. 

How can I get started?

If you’re unsure where to get started with your UX research, check out Workie Ticket’s blog or schedule an introductory call to discover tailored support

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