Using Analytics Data from Social Media to Shape Behavior

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

Angela Cathey, M.A. & Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA

Brett DiNovi & Associates

As the depth of behavior analytic knowledge has increased over the decades it has become increasingly difficult to stay aware of advances in our field. One area in which many behavior analysts receive little training is in the use of technology to achieve behavior analytic goals.

Today we’ll discuss the use of social media and social media analytics as a way to measure and influence human behavior.  In a recent video by Brett DiNovi & Associates, Brett DiNovi discusses a few ways in which we can use social media data to analyze human behavior and shape our own behavior to provide the most value to our audience. Brett discusses how common social media platforms, including Facebook, Linkedin, and YouTube tend to include analytics within them or can be easily examined via external analytics systems (e.g., Google Analytics). Data from these platforms may be used for a variety of purposes in ways that are consistent with behavior analytic goals.

Businesses often use the data from these systems to understand the needs and preferences of their audience. Though recent news regarding data privacy and social media platforms may make this seem quite ominous, in practice, use of this type of measurement is fairly standard and can improve the users experience with content and with business products. For example, many of us may remember a time when television included a high rate of infomercials. This specific type of commercial tended to push unwanted products on us that were often quite ridiculous. For an example, see the following link of the 10 most ridiculous infomercials. You may notice a product called UroClub which was meant to help men urinate in public without exposing themselves.

The beauty of analytics is, in part, that that person, without a need to urinate in their golf club, is spared watching such advertising. This is specifically because of social media and other like analytics that advertising has become far more customized and appropriate and useful to the viewer. Businesses no longer need to buy large chunks of time and subject you to infomercials. They can instead target the specific segment of individuals who might actually want to purchase such a product and focus their advertising dollars there. As mentioned in Brett DiNovi & Associates most recent video, there are many metrics and methods that businesses may use to collect such data.

Some of these include creating advertisements through larger social media platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, or the like. These advertisements are sometimes known as ‘dark posts’ and though that may make them seem magical or malevolent – the terminology simply refers to the leveraging of social data to place targeted ads. Free platforms like Linkedin and Facebook depend upon such uses of data to fund their platforms. Additionally, Klout scores, also mentioned in the recent video, are one of many mean based scores that can be used to understand one’s impact as a brand or individual. These mean-based measurements of how all connections respond to your media can be useful but should be understood in the context of your own segment and how they drive your conversion rates. Further, as mentioned in the video, Google Analytics, and other analytics platfroms can be used to provide user experience and behavioral measurements that are often useful to understanding engagement, retention, and conversions driven by your media.

For behavior analysts-at-large data from these systems can also be used to understand one’s own impact on others and to tightly shape one’s own behavior. If you are looking to improve your presentation skills or to shape a particular talk you can do this by recording yourself speaking and placing the video on YouTube. Using Google Analytics or YouTube based analytics, you can then monitor the specific time segments in your video where audiences tends to stop engaging with your content. This information can then be used to create alternative versions and of the media and determine which aspects of your behavior are most appetitive or aversive to your target audience. Importantly, these methods allow us to present material to many people quickly and thus cut down cost and response effort.

Be sure to check out the full video, and to subscribe to Brett DiNovi’s YouTube channel and let him know what you would like to see in future videos.  Also, be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

bSci21Media, LLC, owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world,  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurialbSciWebDesignbSciWriting, and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series. 

Brett DinoviBrett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA has the unique and distinguished experience of studying the principles of applied behavior analysis under the rigorous scrutiny of both Dr. Julie S. Vargas (formerly Skinner) and Dr. E.A. Vargas at West Virginia University’s internationally recognized program. For the past 26 years, Brett has used behavior analytic principles to create large scale change across school districts, Fortune 500 companies using principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), and across individual learners. Brett has been a OBM consultant in Morgantown WV, an instructor at West Virginia University, a guest lecturer at numerous universities, a speaker on multiple Comcast Newsmakers TV programs, an expert witness in due process hearings, has publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and has been in in executive leadership positions across schools and residential programs nationwide. In addition to an award from South Jersey Biz Magazine for “Best Places to Work,” an award for “Best of Families” in Suburban Magazine, and the distinguished “Top Ranked U.S. Executives” award, Brett’s proudest accomplishment is being a role model and father for his daughter and two stepchildren (one of which has autism). Brett can be reached at [email protected]

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