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The power of pattern: Social Fingerprinting


At Initiative we’re a social bunch. Recently we’ve been working on new ways of visualising the bewildering wealth of social media data out there.

Social media is a rich source of information with which to plan, activate and optimise campaigns. As an agency, we’re also adept at using it for reporting performance and detailed analysis of consumer conversations.

Yet it’s also useful to take a step back and use this data to look at the bigger picture. We’ve been searching for a way of providing our clients with a macro-view of their brand that is simple, insightful and visually compelling…

…And we’ve found it. It’s a technique we’re calling ‘Social Fingerprinting’.

The distinctiveness of the human fingerprint was first quantified in in the late nineteenth century by Francis Galton, a Victorian polymath (who happened also to be Charles Darwin’s cousin). Galton estimated that the chance of two people having the same prints was about one in 64 million. Each fingerprint is all but unique, and can provide vital information about its owner.

The same is true of brands on social media. Every brand creates a unique pattern, comprised of the conversation flows between that brand, its consumers and influencers.

With this in mind, and by using a bit of data mining and programming magic, we can assemble a brand’s ‘Social Fingerprint’ – a picture of the unique pattern each brand leaves on the social web.

Here’s our very own Jemma Baylis with one such example. The weird image behind Jemma represents the Twitter hashtag #GrowingUpInLondon.

It’s both trippy and insightful – not just a pretty picture! For by comparing each unique Social Fingerprint with other relevant cases, we are able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a brand’s ability to engage audiences.

Come and talk to us if you’d like to know more.

Geoff Copps, Head of Research, Mediabrands UK
Tim Sanders, Senior Research Analyst, Mediabrands UK
With additional thanks to:
Muhammad Hussain, Digital Attribution Specialist, UK & Ireland, Mediabrands