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What is social media research?

Social media research is the process of analysing social media platform data. Data is gathered from networks such as Facebook, Twitter or TikTok using legal and ethical data extraction techniques. This data is then examined via quantitative and qualitative research methods. This process can help us understand many different questions including; why audiences engage with content, how successful content is, what audiences content is reaching, what impacts social media is having on people's behaviour and how social media is changing how we communicate with each other.

Social media research relies on hard to access data, so it is vital to understand both the landscape of the social media platforms as well as the tools available to extract and analyse data. Unlike the past where consumer and market research was more easy, social media has made the process more complicated, but also much more insightful and valuable. Today expertise is needed to find and extract appropriate data, to know what questions different data are able to answer, and to develop coherent insights from examining rigorously data gathered. 

It is not easy to develop appropriate research goals, find and extract data, analyse complex social media data, develop impactful research and then communicate these insights with clarity. This is where the Social Media Research Centre steps in, as we are experts in the process of taking digital research from inception to conclusion.

We can help you develop the hidden insights available from social media data; information that is currently only in the hands of the few.

Insights from social media are vitally important to success and yet so hard to gather 

Our process

  1. Developing research questions

  2. Data gathering

  3. Data analysis

  4. Report writing

  5. Dissemination

See our process through our video

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research questions

Firstly we talk to you about the research questions you want answering, or we can discuss what research will be of value to you. Do you want to see how a competitor is faring online? Do you want to understand your social media audience in greater detail? Do you want to examine the success of your content online? These are just some of the vital questions that we can help you develop and then answer.


We can help steer your research goals and deliver valuable insights, alongside offering advice in other areas of research that will be of value. As such the first stage is to work closely with you, in getting the most out of the data available for the research questions you have.

Social media data can't answer everything, data access can be limited and tools for analysing social media data are also imperfect, expensive and hard to access. We use a combination of resources and tools to gather and then analyse data, meaning we have the expertise and acumen to examine a wide array of research questions or business goals. However, it is important to note that even experts have limits to what is possible, we will be up front with you on whether what you seek is workable within the data resources, research tools and ethical framework we use.


Social media data is powerful and personal, as such it is important to examine and treat social media data with respect. For us, that means an ethical approach to data gathering is vital.

What questions can we answer?


Data Gathering

We know where to gather appropriate insightful data. Whether quantitative or qualitative we make sure to get the data needed for valuable understandings.


Quantitative - We use social media data sources such as; Google Trends, Google Analytics, Facebook Audience Insights, Facebook Ad Library, Snapchat Political Ad Library, Google Transparency Report and others. We know where to gather valuable social media data and what to do with it. Equally important is our analysis of your own data from engagement reports to clickthrough data. Finally, we also use statistical survey data such as that from the British Election Study, Office for National Statistics or Pew Research.


Qualitative - We use interviews, focus groups and surveys to understand questions that cannot be illuminated by social media data alone. Whether online or offline, interactions with real-time users and stakeholders can help us gather data of value for understanding issues in a holistic manner.

All of these sources help us to answer the key research questions you have and develop our report. We will adjust our data gathering methodology to your needs, leaving no stone unturned in maximising the data insights we can provide. The Social Media Research Centre are experts in taking research from inception to completion.

What do we do with the data?

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Once we have collected appropriate data we analyse it using rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods. We undertake statistical analysis including regression, descriptive analysis and basic forms of machine learning. While for qualitative data we analyse through methods such as typology and group analysis. For mixed method based reports we mix analytical design, such as examining content data through both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Social media data offers valuable insights if you know how to gather them. We combine data sources and maximise insights to get the most out of what can be limited individual data sources. From semi-automated analysis such as text analysis, to the regression of content forms with engagement we know how to apply the best method possible to the data gathered.

How do we analyse social media data?

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The Social Media Research Centre are experts in translating complex insights to readable, easy to digest reports. We take the data gathered and analysed and provide you with the rigorous valuable laden insights needed. The reports format is dictated by you, it be academic in form, or more glossy for public consumption. The options are all down to what you want the report to achieve.

Social media can tell us so much, but with it getting harder and harder to gain clear insights from social media, it has become important to have a firm understanding of how to translate complex information to easy-to-read understandings. We are experts in data presentation, using interactive data visualisations to tell the story inherent in the data.

How do we present complex data and ideas coherently?



The Social Media Research Centre has made big impacts from previous research. You may wish to make use of our expertise in reaching out to, and developing strong media impacts.

From getting in the news to making clear stakeholder impacts, we know how to represent the data and make sure it impacts where it matters.

We know the different audiences and stakeholders you want to impact and influence. From promoting a new course of action, to shoring up support, we can help you develop relationships and guide audiences through insights. From public relations, to developing elite impacts the Social Media Research Centre can help you achieve your strategic goals.

Getting information out to the right audience

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Why do you need our services?

Social media can tell us so much, but with it getting harder and harder to gain clear insights from social media, it has become important to have a firm understanding of the different platforms, data access tools, analysis tools and what questions can be answered through social media data.

We work to your brief, to your questions and your goals

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