Jay Harrison shares how social media can be analyzed to identify the most pressing topics of conversation within an industry using agriculture examples, and how businesses can use these insights to
Jay Harrison shares how social media can be analyzed to identify the most pressing topics of conversation within an industry using agriculture examples, and how businesses can use these insights to get ahead of emerging issues.
1. Analyzing Social Media Conversations in Agriculture
Maritz Holdings, Inc.
2. About evolve24
evolve24 is an audience understanding company
affiliated with Maritz Research in St. Louis, MO.
We provide integrated traditional and social media
intelligence solutions and consumer insights.
social data into
Backed by a worldrenowned leader in
3. Our data & metrics
Traditional & social media
Company-owned (e.g., verbatims)
Micro blogs (e.g., Twitter)
Online news sites
Product rating sites
Print newspapers & magazines
Cable, satellite, TV
Topic and theme extraction*
5. Trusted advisor to executive teams
“The depth of insights still has
people around here buzzing.
– Social Media Manager, Purina
“Thank you for the immediate
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– Corporate Communications, BMW
“The perfect chart for a
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the new capability!”
– Director of Social Media, Cargill
“This is excellent work. Let’s
– Communications Director, GE
6. Social media issues in agriculture,
GMO labeling legislation
GMO wheat found in Oregon
Section 735, H. R. 933 (“Monsanto Protection Act”)
Seralini rat study
7. How can we cope?
evolve24, a Maritz Research company, uses the
following approaches for analyzing comments on
agribusiness in social and traditional media:
• Measuring the emotional drivers in order to advise
clients on appropriate responses
• Detect “combustible” issues early and advise
companies to prepare for them or take advantage of
• Measuring changes in the trust that people place in a
brand and make recommendations on building trust
8. Challenges of social media analytics
• Massive amounts of data require
storage space and processing
• Shifting social media platforms
• Worldwide online accessibility provides
more data in many languages
• Messy data
9. Emotional drivers
evolve24 has developed some proprietary methods for
measuring emotional drivers in text from social media.
These are potential risks for an industry because they
compel people to take action.
• Human origin
• Poor communication
10. evolve24’s PRECISE™ Method
evolve24’s approach is based on anticipating trends in
an industry instead of simply monitoring them.
What is the
Most relevant topics
11. Putting it all together with social media
evolve24 applied PRECISETM methodology in April 2013
to find the most pressing concerns in social media that
were likely to affect the agribusiness industry in the
The analysis involved 2.1 million articles collected from
the large-scale agribusiness industry over 6 months.
12. Putting it all together
We identified the most important issues involving
agriculture in social media at that time as:
Food access / scarcity
Conversations about the #1 topic of food safety
Seralini publication concerning glyphosate and GMOs
Recalls of meat products
Outbreaks of foodborne illnesses
13. Putting it all together
The main emotion concerning food safety was
Issues that are perceived to affect vulnerable
populations, such as children or pets, have more risk
than those that affect the population at large or a
population that can cope with the issue.
Other prevalent emotions were dread (fear, terror, or
anxiety) and irreversibility.
14. Putting it all together
For the second-most important topic, GMO labeling,
the main emotional driver expressed was fairness.
Issues in which assets are perceived to be unevenly
or inequitably shared are riskier than those where
the perception is that everyone has the same
benefits and disadvantages.
15. As time passes, things change
evolve24 updated the findings with social media
articles collected between February and July 2013.
This analysis included 2.2 million observations from
social and traditional media. At that time, the most
important issues in social media in agribusiness were:
1. Food safety - previously #1
2. Food access/scarcity - previously #3
3. Section 735, H. R. 933 (“Monsanto Protection Act”) –
4. Animal rights – previously #5
5. Nutrition – previously #7
16. Downstream: Consumer packaged goods
evolve24 also researched the consumer packaged
This analysis included over 750,000 observations from
social and traditional media for 31 days in June-July 2013.
The most important issues in social media, from a
communications perspective for industry-wide risks, were:
1. Poor health from processed food
2. Affordability of healthy food
3. Perceived dangers of GMOs in food
17. Downstream: Consumer packaged goods
evolve24 also researched consumer packaged goods
for marketing opportunities.
The top issues in social media were:
1. Using social media for weight loss support
2. Convenient and healthy breakfast options
3. Avoiding artificial ingredients
18. GMO-Free Cheerios
In January 2014, General Mills announced that regular
Cheerios would no longer be made with ingredients
sourced from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
This affected two ingredients: sugar and cornstarch.
Other flavors of Cheerios will continue to use GMOsourced ingredients.
19. What led to this decision?
evolve24 analyzed over 825,000 articles from social
media from October 1, 2012 to January 16, 2014.
Sources of articles included Twitter, Facebook, blogs,
boards, and web news.
20. Cheerios in pop culture
Topics of discussion included …
Having a bad day
21. Other conversations with Cheerios
More serious topics included:
• Eating breakfast, family breakfasts, healthy eating
• Babies, pets, household hints, food bank donations,
charities, education, hospitals
Regulations and politics
• Financial reports, marriage equality, GMOs
22. Measuring trust in social media
evolve24’s patent-pending Trust ScoreTM is based on
peer-reviewed scientific publications in risk
23. GMO discussions through time
There were three main periods of activity (measured by volume)
for discussion about GMOs
24. Facebook campaign: Dec. 2012
In late 2012, Cheerios invited people to use an app to
post comments about Cheerios on their Facebook site.
What they expected:
25. Facebook campaign: Dec. 2012
What happened instead:
26. Facebook campaign: Dec. 2012
During this period, the trust equity of Cheerios increased.
This paradoxical result occurred because trust
components were frequently mentioned in appeals to
27. Facebook campaign: Dec. 2012
28. Subsequent changes in other topics
For the topics of breakfast, family breakfast, babies, and
snacking, trust equity accumulated through time, but all lost
momentum in March 2013.
29. Multiracial family ad: June 2013
At the same time, the GMO-free Cheerios campaign was
rekindled with another argument in the conversation.
Recall the “fairness” emotional driver. European GMO-free Cheerios
were viewed with both hypocrisy and opportunity.
30. Before GMO-free announcement
After September 2013, Cheerios conversations about healthy
eating did not accumulate as much trust.
31. GMO-free announcement: Jan. 2014
The announcement that General Mills would make Cheerios
without GMO-sourced ingredients resulted in a spike in trust
equity within conversations about GMOs.
32. GMO-free announcement: Jan. 2014
This announcement gained trust points for caring, but competence
and commitment also contributed.
33. Putting GMOs in perspective
GMOs were a topic of conversation in approximately
2.9% of over 825,000 social articles mentioning Cheerios.
• Breakfast - 10.1%
• Healthy eating - 8.6%
• Having a bad day - 5.4%
• Family breakfast - 3.1%
• Froot Loops analogies - 3.0%
Cheerios cereal is a staple food for every age group
and an iconic brand that permeates our culture, so any
change in Cheerios will impact the CPG industry as a
Consumers may be satisfied with this switch, or, feeling
emboldened, they will demand more changes
(independent GMO verification, making all General Mills
cereals GMO-free, aiming for Post and Kellogg’s).
Potential drawbacks to the decision to go GMO-free
were largely absent from social conversation.
• Potential price increases for ingredients
• Impact on farm family incomes
• Reliability of supply of GMO-free corn and sugar
• Energy needed to transport these ingredients
• Environmental effects of sugar cane production
• Human rights of sugar cane workers
• Safety of foreign ingredients
These topics could have been used for a more
balanced discussion and to emphasize that there are
no easy answers.
By investing in another commercial with the multiracial
family during the Super Bowl, despite the controversy
with the first commercial, General Mills made a social
statement beyond selling more cereal into advocacy.
The GMO-free announcement occurred just before the
second commercial with the multiracial family, so the
individual effects of each strategy on sales will be
difficult to separate.
The decision of General Mills to make GMO-free
Cheerios appealed to trust components.
By doing so, General Mills won an immediate dividend
By analyzing social media, we can find early indicators
that change is imminent.
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