Big data for human behavior


Hulya Balikci | Online Reputation Manager | NATIVE VML| | |

“Big Data” has became a popular term recently and it refers to the huge volume of data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends and associations – particularly in relation to human behaviour and interactions.

Analysing data associated with human behaviour excites me the most!

One thing is that negative service experiences will always occur and people are guaranteed to rant on social media about them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Embracing negative feedback and encouraging comments allows companies to learn and provides insight to improve their operational approach to both service and communication.

Data interpretation

By gathering and analysing data, analysts are able to identify:

  • What customers like/don’t like
  • What they’re willing to pay for a product/service
  • Whether they’re receiving good service
  • The efficacy of their marketing campaigns

Social media data collection is more powerful and extends well beyond the above points. Understanding customers psychoanalytically allows companies to deliver personalised services and positive experiences.

Amazon is probably the leading example of how the use of data enables brands to provide a hyper-personalised product. The data their users accumulate through the use of wish lists, for example, allows Amazon to recommend very specific products.

Social strategies

Big data isn’t just useful for monitoring brand reputation and guiding strategies, but also for social good.

DataKind is a non-profit organisation that focuses predominantly on connecting socially minded data scientists with organisations that work to address critical humanitarian issues. One of their projects involves using satellite imagery to automatically detect illegal mining. They also use anomaly detection to flag dubious contracts that differ from standard ones to identify potentially unfair or questionable language.

A recent case showed that a year-long public information campaign in Vietnam challenged the beliefs around rhino horns and their medicinal value. The campaign was so effective that only 2.6% of people continue to buy and use rhino horn – a massive decrease of 38%. The data also revealed a 25% decrease in the number of people who think rhino horn, which is made of the same material as fingernails and hair, has medicinal value.

The demand that drove sales was diminished by using social media data to understand how to craft dissuasive educational campaigns.

Kathleen McKeown, Director of the Data Science Institute, says, “Whatever good you want to do in the world, the data is there to make it possible. Whether it’s finding new and unexpected treatment for disease or techniques for predicting the impact of natural disasters, data science have tremendous potential to benefit society.”




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