Tag Archives: twitter

Can Twitter Gauge Happiness?

Obviously social media opens new doors for marketers, but it also provides us with new sociological survey data. Only the subjects aren’t aware they’re being studied. It’s like that valid research method, natural observation. If inherently subjective ethnographies based on very small sample sizes are valid in anthropology and I am a technological anthropologist (Angela Natividad’s wonderful term) then surely I can liken all U.S. or global Twitter users to a tribe. I can measure their operationally defined behaviors in their natural habitat, the Twitterverse. This is the new anthro.human-emotions-collage

This stems from reading a recent study by the Vermont Complex Systems Center, who created a “hedonometer” for 10 million geotagged tweets:
The Geography of Happiness According to 10 Million Tweets – TheAtlantic.com, 2/19/13

(First I must note the correlation between religiosity in the Bible Belt and lack of happiness.)

Second, this is not the first study to link Twitter sentiment to mood:

Traders seem convinced that social chatter from a specific group or about a specific event (like a new Apple product or changing Netflix service) can be a predictor of where stocks are headed. Yet it was more than a year ago when Indiana University’s Johan Bollen found that his team’s Twitter sentiment analysis predicts changes in the market with 87.6 percent accuracy…. his work suggests that collective social mood leads the DJIA closing values by a few days’ time.
-Jill Noble, Dr. Johan Bollen on Twitter, Mood and Socionomics, Elliott Wave International 2/16/12

Bollen’s findings suggest that mass Twitter sentiment can predict the economy. There is validity to such studies despite the inherent sample bias.

What should be explored is that with Twitter, we can endeavor to gauge sentiment for groups on such a larger scale than is possible with typical surveys and limited sample size. This is what Bollen is doing with computational social sciences – and this is so important for marketers. Think neuromarketing. Granted, you’re only getting subjects who use Twitter – huge caveat. In certain states, depending on culture, it’s possible that Twitter tends to be used by people who are happier, sadder, or who tweet certain trigger words more often.

Mississippi is one of if not the nation’s poorest state. That must contribute to it being the #2 saddest. But the economically depressed state of my alma mater, Michigan, may be even sadder and they don’t have Southern cooking to eat their feelings. You are what you eat…

If I were a food marketer, I would go to town over this kind of data. Market your product as a solution to three struggling economic problems to start:
1. Lack of happy sentiment in the aggregate
2. Loss of community pride
3. Need for grocery value in communities with high unemployment rates

And as one might predict,

…happiness data correlates with income and the prevalence of obesity in an area.

Not hard to figure out those relationships: less education –> lower income and less knowledge and culturally sanctioned attention paid to nutrition
Lower income –> likely to only afford less nutritious food
Eat too much unhealthy food –> gain weight, have more (expensive) health problems, feel depressed emotionally, physically, and economically.
All –> tweet sadder.

On with the social-as-qualified-sociology:

  • Financial difficulties do not preclude Twitter use as many might guess – look at the rise of mobile-only households in lower income brackets. It’s also possible that even if mostly middle to upper class residents use Twitter, the general morale of an economically depressed state would make even those who are financially stable tweet more sadly.
  • Also, marketers who target angry and/or crass customers (with something like anger-management products): play up the offensive in your ad copy, you’ll be speaking your customers’ language and mirroring is effective:

For individual cities, the Vermont researchers note, the amount of swearing contributed substantially to their final scores. They think it’s worth investigating this phenomenon, which they call “geoprofanity.”

In Jill Noble’s 2011 interview with Johan Bollen, he explains the unique opportunity that Twitter offers as a glimpse into immediate, focused, raw emotional output. With limited characters and the immediacy of tweeting (especially on mobile) it offers a more targeted and insightful view into millions of everyday moods as they change around the globe.

What to Do When Phone Falls in Water + Social Media Catastrophes of 2012 – Episode 10

I. What to Do When Your Phone Falls in Water– Many of us have faced that dreaded moment: one minute you’re sending a text, the next minute you’re panic-stricken fishing your phone

phone dropped in water

out of a puddle/toilet/pool, etc. In the wake of Melanie’s recent iPhone nosedive into a cup of water, (artist name)-style, the ladies give you step-by-step directions of what to do when that unfortunate digital dive occurs.

II. Top Social Media Catastrophes of 2012 (and What We Can Learn From Them)-

yeah, not good...

Chick-fil-A’s fake Facebook profile. An NRA journal’s untimely message. StubHub’s self-deprecating tweet. You’ve heard the stories, now Melanie and I look back at them and discuss what we can learn from some of the year’s biggest social media blunders.

Tips on Tap:

I. Ever wonder what you say in your sleep? Want to prove that your partner is snoring? With the Sleep Talk Recorder app, you can do just that. This handy little app for iPhone and Android picks up on your sleep babble and strange sounds in the night and records them (without all of that dead-space in between). Try it out, and take a look at some hilarious findings other users have submitted. sleeptalkrecorder.com

II. The Fiscal Cliff Calculator– how will it impact you? We’re all sick of hearing about the fiscal cliff, but as we near the metaphor’s edge it’s worth taking a look at how it will impact you. Enter your information (filing status, income, and the like) into the calculator and then choose from a drop down that then compares your tax withholdings, etc. under the current law with several potential outcomes. taxpolicycenter.org/taxcalculator/index.cfm

III. Learnvest.com – Learnvest is a website, smartphone app, and email newsletter geared toward professional women. It offers advice about myriad financial topics from negotiating a raise to navigating tax law, dealing with awkward financial situations or different money attitudes with friends and family, etiquette for paying the bill at a business meal, saving for retirement and your 401k, and getting the most bang for your buck at the grocery store, value out of your clothing, and investing in the stock market.
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Twitstagram, Facebook iOS 6 Privacy Nightmare, and the Internet Down Under – The Digital Dive Podcast Episode 8

This week The Digital Dive Podcast covers new Twitter photo filters, standing desk adventures, and a major privacy issue with Facebook/iOS 6 integration that hit a little too close to home for me. Your favorite digital divers are also thrilled to bring special guest Australian Crime Fiction Publisher Liam Jose on the show. Liam chimes in on Australia’s recent controversial policies regarding Internet censorship.

I. Standing Desk Update – How Melanie used stacks of office supplies to prevent cancer

II. Twitstagram- Twitter to add Instagram-like photo filters in the next few months

III. Australian government tries to censor the Internet

IV. The Facebook / iOS 6 privacy nightmare: We learn the hard way about the amount of information iOS Contacts pulls from Facebook based on mobile number and email address.

Source: Brian Farrington via townhall.com

Special Guest Liam Jose with my co-host Melanie Touchstone

Tips on Tap:

1. Zite: Apple’s #1 iPad news app of 2011 is still pretty great. Zite is “Your Personalized Magazine.” The app automatically learns what kind of articles, blogs, and videos you like and gets smarter as you use it.

2. Instagram spam comments are on the rise. How to delete Instagram comments and report abuse. (Tap the comment button as though you were going to comment. Then tap on the comment. Tap the trash icon that appears to the left.)

3. iOS 6 Ad Tracking: How to Opt Out. By default iOS 6 tracks iPhone and iPad owners’ browsing history to serve advertisements. How adjust your iOS ad tracking settings: Settings –>; General –>; About –>; Advertising. You’ll see Limit Ad Tracking. The default toggle is in the OFF position. That means ad tracking is turned on. If you want to opt out of targeted advertising, switch Limit Ad Tracking to the ON position. Note: Being tracked or not is a personal preference.

Show notes:

  1. The Standing Desk Adventure – Melanie Touchstone. missmelt.com, 11/14/12
  2. Twitter to Add Photo Filters to Compete With Instagram – NYTimes.com, 11/6/12

Can’t get enough of Liam Jose? Check out thecrimefactory.com and follow him on Twitter.

Me and Special Guest Liam Jose in the studio


You can download or stream The Digital Dive at thedigitaldivepodcast.com or search for us in the iTunes Podcast Directory–>; If you like the show, please subscribe and leave us a review! The Digital Dive Podcast is on Stitcher, the best free podcast streaming smartphone app. If you’re a new subscriber, please sign up with our link below:
Hear us on Stitcher Smart Radio

Ping us on Twitter @thedigitaldive_ and Like us on Facebook.

The Digital Dive PodcastTM: Get the most out of technology… without ever fully giving in