Published On: Sat, Jul 9th, 2011

The Emergence of Online Conversations as Indicators of Offline Behaviour

I’m very interested in any development to do with online language data extraction, measurement and analysis as it forms a large part of my role. This job is made easier thanks to fantastic tools such as Radian6, Sysomos and Market Sentinel, all of which I frequently use. But, I’m especially interested in how language data can be applied beyond the formulation of communications strategies.

That’s why over the past couple of weeks I’ve been noting with great interest more and more news articles about organisations using data mined from online conversations to support their operational and strategic decisions.

Two examples which really caught my eye were news that the Bank of England is turning to Google to shed light on economic trends and that hedge fund, Derwent Capital Markets compares fluctuations in the online national mood with stock market movements, the results of which help guide investments.

Although, digital marketeers have naturally turned to the web for data and insights about online consumer behaviour, the emergence of online conversations being used by financial organisations as indicators of offline behaviours does represent something new and exciting.

Whilst there are undoubtedly huge challenges coping with the noise and mass of online data in the Validation Era, there are also fantastic opportunities and these financial organisations should be praised for mining conversational data to help make their operational and strategic decisions more robust. The data is available and it would be remiss of organisations making huge financial decisions not to fully utilise it.

I expect we’ll see more companies begin mining online conversations to predict offline behaviour, and helping organisations make sense of this data could represent a lucrative new line of business for social media monitoring providers. Whilst, monitoring is extremely valuable, being able to counsel clients and educate them to understand online conversation data could elevate the status of monitoring companies from that of vendor to strategic partners.

I’m a firm believer that the insights gleaned from online conversations can and should be used for much more than digital marketing. There is a huge opportunity for this data to not only inform the communication strategy, but the business one too. For those lucky enough to attend last years excellent Decode exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum, you’ll know that data doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, data whether it be used for art installations or business strategy is beautiful.

About the Author

- Marketing Manager with a passion for inbound at HubSpot, Founder of Growth Hack Talks, Blogger at and Chief Quaffer at .

Displaying 7 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. 40deuce says:

    Great point! There’s so much that be learned through what people are saying and talking about in social media far beyond just regular marketing data. It’s not surprising that other types of businesses and departments are expanding to use social media as a research tool.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

    • Ben says:

      Hey Sheldon,

      Thanks for commenting.

      It’s great to see that organisations are wising up to the potential importance of online conversation data and more importantly, how it can be utilised beyond much more than marketing.

      It’ll be interesting to see which industries are quickest to spot this opportunity.



  2. Thanks for mentioning Radian6 Ben!

    You’ve brought up a great point. There is a tremendous amount to be learned through unprompted feedback that you may not be privy to in focus groups or other types of research.

    We’ve worked with various clients in using online data and insights to inform their offline activity and the more prominent and popular social networks become the greater the move will be towards including this type of research.

    I think that the financial industry specifically has a lot to gain from this type of data and it will be exciting to see how this influences their marketing and services in the future.

    Thanks again,

    Olivia | @livslandolt
    Marketing and Community Manager | Radian6

    • Ben says:

      Hi Olivia,

      Thank you for leaving a comment.

      As many people have said before, ‘the Internet is the world’s biggest focus group’ and it’s only right that organisations are using all the technology at their disposal.



  3. […] are beginning to use big data to make better decisions and offers an exciting look into how online conversations may be used to predict offline behaviour in the […]

  4. […] Invest in online monitoring I would recommend all organisations undertake some form of online monitoring. This enables them to understand the types of conversations taking place online and coverage they […]

  5. […] Invest in online monitoring I would recommend all organisations undertake some form of online monitoring. This enables them to understand the types of conversations taking place online and coverage they […]

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