User research with social media

A 60 minute Workshop by:

Dave Ellender

Evidence Tools

About this Workshop

It is premature for organisations to treat social media platforms as nothing more than opportunities for customer service enquiries, help requests and brand advocacy. They are a rich source of data about users that often gets ignored in favour of other, more controlled research activities like interviews and user testing.

New monitoring software tools make it relatively easy to track a range of keywords and capture a wealth of tweets, posts and mentions on topics of interest. While the data can be messy and overwhelming, it is nothing less than 'research gold' - users speaking in their own language!

Indeed, the data is so easy to capture that temptations to use sentiment analysis features are hard to resist. However, sentiment analysis aims to produce high level insights at the expense of the nuanced details that reside in the data. So, how can we work with social media?

In this 90-minute workshop, we will show you how we did user research with social media for a heavily-used web service at Highways England.

We will present a short case study of our work as we introduce 5 steps you can follow on any project:

  • defining your keywords
  • using monitoring tools
  • creating a usable data set
  • analysing data
  • creating research insights

There will be plenty of hands-on group activities where you can work through these steps with a sample data set (which we will provide).

We will end with an opportunity for you to brainstorm new techniques or applications of user research with social media.

About the Speaker

Dave Ellender is a design researcher at Evidence Tools, a specialist consultancy in the UK. Dave has worked with users of all ages, including a few over 90 years old and some as young as 4. Beyond the web, Dave has worked with technologies including interactive television, touchscreen kiosks, interactive furniture, trains, robotics, intelligent homes and even smart clothes. He co-founded the popular UXBristol conference in 2011 and is a published academic.


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