Unpicking Communities on Twitter – Combining Data with Quant & Qual Research for Deep Insights

Pre-conference Interview: #flocks: Unpicking Communities on Twitter – Combining Data with Quant & Qual Research for Deep Insights

As part of our pre-conference interviews, we recently spoke with one of the speakers of MRMW EU 2020 Virtual, Jessica Percival, Research Analyst at Twitter. She told us about the highlights of her challenging session and the current state of market research industry.

Question #1: Without giving too much away – what is the core message of your talk and what would you like delegates to remember?

Jessica: Increasingly people are forming digital communities on Twitter that live alongside their communities in real life. This innovative work unpicks the fabric of UK Twitter to learn how people come together, complexities within communities and their value to Twitter as a service & a business.

I’d like delegates to get a flavour for the broad spectrum of communities which exist today on Twitter. Did you know that there is a tight-knit cheese community on Twitter? Or that patients and carers turn to Twitter to connect with people who are in similar situations to them but that they might never meet ‘IRL’? Even a seemingly straightforward community around football is made up of several smaller, interconnected communities.


Question #2: Why did you choose the topic of your talk?

Jessica: I genuinely believe it’s one of the most interesting projects to come out of Twitter UK research, and I think it’s a great opportunity to share how combining techniques lead to better insights, and a streamlined research process.

  • The scale of the challenge required new thinking, technical innovation, and a flexible research approach
  • The only way to answer our questions about which communities existed on Twitter, was to start with the data and combine it with traditional research methods. This allowed us to achieve a level of insight we would never have been able to with only one method or the other
  • It’s a really interesting example of using ‘big data’ analysis to streamline/focus traditional quant and qual methods for heightened effect


Question #3: What motivates you to join MRMW Europe and what are your expectations?

Jessica: I’m interested to hear from people within the research industry, across a broad spectrum of businesses – I’d like to learn from the challenges they’re facing, and what innovative techniques are being used to solve them, to bring back and apply to my day-to-day.

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Question #4: There is a lot of talk about the current state of consumer insights and the impact of technology. How would you sum up the current state of the industry in 1-2 sentences?

Jessica: Technology is allowing us to understand people with more clarity than ever before, and resulting in more streamlined outputs – be it testing a new methodology, or combining approaches to validate traditional methods. It’s really interesting to see products and techniques evolve, and to see first-hand what the role of tech is in enhancing insights.


Question #5: Looking back on the past months please share your thoughts on the impact of COVID-19 on the market research and the consumer behaviours in general.

 Jessica: COVID-19 turned the world on its head and changed everything about what we do, and how we interact with each other. In March, our main asks from brands and agencies were about understanding how people were feeling, and how advertising should be tailored. We leaned on Twitter Insiders (our UK online community panel) and our main challenge was speed – making sure we were getting data back from the community, and out to brands in the form of actionable insights, in a timely manner to ensure they were still relevant.

Twitter UK also undertook a large project combining conversation data (tweets), with surveys from Twitter Insiders, and interviews with thought leaders across the industry. From this, we identified seven key behaviours and states that have emerged or accelerated during lockdown. They paint a detailed picture of what people experienced and how they continue to behave as the situation evolves. Full detail on the seven here, via campaign



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