Minority Report: 5 Ways to Predict Future Trends using Twitter analytics


Have you ever woken up from a nightmare where you’re being followed, watched and tracked? Your stalkers are pre-empting your every move, there’s nowhere to run or hide because they’ve read your thoughts, they know what you’re thinking, where you’re going and how you’re feeling. Much like a scene from Spielberg’s science fiction thriller Minority Report set in 2054 in which Tom Cruise plays a detective working for special ‘Pre-crime’ unit that arrests murderers before they commit the actual crime. Can you imagine a world where that is possible? No?…

The introduction of new psycholinguistic analysis technologies means this is, perhaps closer than you might have thought. Maybe not to the extent of pre-empting crime, although Chicago police claim to have a new algorithm that can identify violent criminals (but that’s a whole other kettle of fish). We are now living in a real-world ‘Minority Report’ where by monitoring social accounts can predict our moods, emotions and thoughts to understand what we want before we even know we want it!


Late last year IBM unveiled prototype social analytic technologies based around life-event detection and psycholinguistic analysis. These tools not only scan the literal content on social media accounts to identify key events in your life – birthdays, driving tests, moving home or job, getting married and so on – they also read between the lines to interpret your subconscious feelings about the upcoming occasions. The psycholinguistic analysis informs the business on how best to make an approach that is sensitive to the customer’s state of mind.

It would be wrong to assume that the new breed of social analytics will only be employed for business purposes. The new technologies provide further insight into the emotive state of an individual, thus can trigger alerts that pre-empt the onset of mental health conditions such as postnatal depression and be used to design early treatment programs.

Again, shades of the Minority Report scenes of people being bombarded with personalised adverts as they move around, but the new found insights could lead to a more sensitive style of commercialism as the idea of psycholinguistic analysis is that it allows businesses to better understand their audience’s emotional state. For example, you post that you have just accepted a job offer in a different town. Armed with these new tools, your bank knows you could be interested in various products and services such as changing branch, personal loans or mortgages. Of course, moving home is a highly stressful experience, so the bank monitors the deeper meaning of your latest posts. In this way, the bank positions itself as a helpful partner, rather than an annoying opportunist, in the mind of the customer – and still makes a sale!

Businesses need to ensure that they’re effectively mining the wealth of customer data available to them now. Twitter analytics offers businesses a valuable data source for market research that can be harnessed to provide valuable insights into customer behaviour and wider market sentiment about your brand, products or services. These insights, in turn, can be used to shape future marketing activity and successfully pre-empt market shifts that can be used to your advantage.

Although social analytic technologies are fairly new, there are various Twitter analytics platforms, such as Audiense, that can give you a glimpse into the future of business.

Here are just a few of the ways that Twitter, when used in conjunction with analysis tools, can give you a glimpse of the future:


1. Let’s Get Specific

The key to any market research is ensuring that the research sample used is truly representative of the wider community or audience that you want to discover more about. Once you have identified the demographic that you want to target, tools such as Audiense allow you to easily segment Twitter users into sample groupings relevant to your needs, based on criteria such as age, occupation, location and personal interests and allow you to track such activity over a specific time period.

By increasing the relevance of your research sample, you have a much-improved chance of capturing precious insights into future market movements. Additionally, further defining your audience allows for improved segmentation and targeting strategies. Monitoring your audience offers deeper insight into what they are talking about and why allowing for the tailored design of advertising copy to directly appeal to them.

A tip for conducting any research; by monitoring your audience with Audiense you can identify topics and hashtags that they are talking about, from here take keywords and/or phrases to search Twitter for additional users involved in those conversations. You might find your potential audience extends beyond the users you are currently targeting.


2. The Next Big Thing

Sometimes it is important to segment Twitter users into particular categories in order to gain useful insights that are relevant to your business. Using Twitter searches enables you to discover popular hashtags or trends relevant to your industry that you can employ for targeting or use as part of your content strategy. Think of Twitter as a reflection of what’s happening in the real-world, if there is #WeLoveBeiber trending, you can almost guarantee that a controversial story surrounding Justin Beiber has been recently posted.

The platform offers particular insight into the social trends of society allowing businesses to capitalise on these. For example, the use of the term ‘selfie’ on Twitter has grown exponentially in recent years, leading to a full-blown cultural phenomenon. One only has to consider the volume of current marketing campaigns which incorporate selfies to see how spotting the next ‘zeitgeist’ topic early could give your future marketing campaigns a head start on those of your competitors.


3. Eye on the Competition

Speaking of your competitors, it is always wise to keep a very close eye on the Twitter activity of your competitors – and their followers. This will provide you with up-to-date info on your rival’s upcoming products, services and campaigns and can help you improve your own strategic direction.

Additionally, monitoring customer reaction to your competitors’ tweets can provide you with a practical list of “do’s and don’ts” to inform your own future campaigns and act as a testing platform for you. Take note of any marketing activity they’ve rolled out that has caused a negative backlash and use it as a learning platform for your business; what would we do differently? By monitoring their account activity you also have the opportunity to discover new users to target and convert into customers.


4. What’s the Jive, Daddio?

The language surrounding any business or industry is constantly evolving, so monitoring the tweets of your followers, your competitors and key industry commentators on Twitter can provide you with a real-time window on the latest terminology and buzz-words entering the marketplace – and also provide you with warnings as to the type of language that customers not only dislike, but will actively ridicule in a tweet of their own.

Remember to have a personality, users are not looking for a robotic customer service response, they want to know that there is someone behind the keyboard. Don’t be afraid to join in a conversation regarding your products or industry. Remain human, if you overhear a conversation on a train you wouldn’t jump straight in without introductions or manners and start selling yourself, the normal rules of etiquette apply to social media (no matter how high your sales target it).


5. Coming soon…

Of course, all of this works both ways. Any business should make use of Twitter to provide others with insights into their own future plans. By sharing early information with your own followers, e.g. teases or first-look offers relating to upcoming product launches, you can create advance buzz, engage a wider audience for your messages and improve the chances of your future marketing campaigns. Your social community is made up of users interested in your product/service or industry. Share info about the team, what you’re up to, any surprises in store for your customers.


In combination with tools such as Audiense, Twitter can undoubtedly help businesses large and small to uncover clues about tomorrow that can make a real difference to future commercial success. Before we get too ahead of ourselves into the psycholinguistic analysis future of social media, businesses need to understand how to discover and use the valuable insights that are currently available to them from Twitter analytics tools.

See it in action -  Audiense