The Social Outlook: Insights in Context Research

By James Lovejoy on September 27th 2016

Insights consumers have been hoodwinked. Time and again they’ve accepted insights without understanding the context behind them.

It seems obvious but often isn’t: data without context isn’t that useful. Consider a golfer who sinks a hole in four strokes. If we want to actually understand how well the golfer performed, we need more context.

What do we define “good” against?

For a start, it might be nice to know what the par was. But that still might not be enough.

Next, we’d want to know how the golfer has performed historically. For me, shooting par is a miracle. But there are a myriad of other contextual factors we might consider: the golfer’s performance throughout that day, the golfer’s performance on that specific hole on previous days, the weather that day, how well other tournament player’s shot on that hole.

The question is what benchmarks or baseline we use to evaluate the quality of the golfer’s performance, and what potential confounding variables we consider.

When it comes to social media analysis, or any big data analysis, context is paramount.


The Social Outlook Blog Graphic

The Social Outlook

When evaluating their own performance, businesses should have a strong understanding of their context, as well as the potential variables at play.

That means measuring progress toward goals period over period, but also in relation to competitors and the wider social landscape. Your brand may have grown its audience by 8%, but if all your competitors grew theirs by 12% in the same time period, you’re losing market share.

In The Social Outlook, we examine the online activity of 450 brands across 15 industries throughout Q2 2016. Our goal was to find out what normal looks like for each industry, how that varies across industries, and begin to get a better understanding at how businesses in general function online.

In a way, we aimed to provide businesses with a context from which to view the social media landscape.

An Audience in Context

As an example, let’s examine the online audiences discussing 15 industries. If Lenovo wants to understand the gender breakdown of their Twitter following, the first step might be to evaluate the gender of the authors discussing @lenovo.

Social Outlook Lenovo Gender

Nearly 60% of the conversation is driven by males. Can we then say Lenovo’s audience is male? It’s certainly more male than female, but without context it’s hard to really make sense of where Lenovo stands.

For that, we’ll need some benchmarks. The following analysis, taken from The Social Outlook, reveals the gender breakdown of those discussing 15 industries.

Social Outlook Gender Breakdown

The average across all industries is about 54% male and 46% female.

But the average within the Consumer Tech industry is 65% male and 35% female.

In this context, it’s clear that Lenovo leans more male than most brands overall, but actually leans toward females within the Consumer Tech industry.

Context helps us understand what is unique about a brand.


Creating Context

What’s hopefully clear is the role that context plays in adding meaning to analysis. What may be less obvious, is how to actually create benchmarks or standards to index against.

Analyzing industry-wide trends means monitoring a much wider conversation.

The Social Outlook provides insights and benchmarks across 15 industries. Download the report for free below.

If you’re looking for more specific comparisons, our Research Services team is available to help create benchmarks or guide in the process.


Uncover more insights

Download the report to learn more.

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