Introducing Lifelines Social Landscapes

What is Lifelines Social Landscapes?

In 2010, we created Lifelines™ – a way to take rich customer experience insight, built from 1-to-1 interviews and interactions and make it more measurable, without losing the stories and narratives that makes experience-based research so compelling in the first place!

Since then, more and more customer experiences are being published through social media such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as countless blogs and forums. These customer stories are usually much shorter, with less opportunity for asking extra detailed questions, but they bring the potential to add thousands of opinions and voices previously unheard.

So in the summer of 2017, we’re proud to have launched a companion tool, Lifelines Social Landscapes, which captures people’s shared experiences posted in social media to build up a picture of their needs, habits and sentiment across geographies and different social groups. We call these landscapes, because rather than create graphs showing size and volume, they focus on distilling similarities of feelings and interests. Lifelines Social Landscapes reveals patterns of how groups form and come together.

Lifelines Social Landscapes taps into our years of experience of interpretation and coding techniques developed for the original Lifelines™ methodology. This means we still rely on real people to develop meaning from comment patterns, but we’re helped along by the latest generation of social media software with their smart algorithms and fuzzy logic. It offers the best of both worlds, representing a far wider set of customer views, whilst still maintaining the skills of research practitioners (automated bots are still no substitute for experience!)

How Does It Work?

Social media users can provide their own way of categorising comments, using hashtags. For example, if you tried to track what and how alcoholic drinks were enjoyed at Christmas by people, using simple hashtag counts might deliver something like this:

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 11.42.05But what if the purpose of your research was to explore attitudes to drink driving, and potentially what could be done to reduce it at such a key time of year? Simply using hashtags alone might highlight awareness, but is unlikely to show the variation in what it means to people. Instead, by using coding and interpretation techniques, the same tweets and comments can reveal a more detailed landscape, reflecting how seriously people feel about the issue, and even uncovering actual stories from those directly affected.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 11.43.33We might then seek to explore the profiles of people with similar attitudes – are they male of female? Are they city-dwellers? What activities and leisure pursuits do they share? Gradually, our Lifelines Social Landscapes build out an interpretation of the issue, with a ‘small data’ set of evidence lying behind each idea, just a click away.

In the real case study below, we used these same interpretative techniques to explore anti-social behaviour, to identify not just the acts of problem behaviour but the lasting impact they had on the community (see red boxes).

Anti-Social BehaviourAnti-Social Behaviour

Landscapes that convey this kind of insight enable ideas to be created that can potentially change behaviour, which can be explored further in focus groups or tested in online surveys to assess their resonance.

Like its older Lifelines™ cousin, these landscapes are both visual and illustrative – an aid to understanding rather than a quantitative assessment. Lifelines Social Landscapes can certainly draw upon quantified numeric data, but that’s not the end goal. Instead, like all our Lifelines™ research, the ambition is to organise clues illustrating how people experience and describe aspects of their lives.

What Can You Use Lifelines Social Landscapes for?

The overarching benefit is to help organisations become more customer-life-centric. This is easy to say in theory, but what does it mean in practice?

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 18.53.08

We use the phrase customer-life-centric, because it is simply more specific. We’re encouraging organisations not to just profile a customer’s age, or location or product history in order to improve marketing messages. Instead, we suggest there is more value in understanding their lives, what makes them happy, what frustrates them, what they depend on. This is where brand loyalty lies, for those organisations that put the importance of customers’ lives at the centre of their business.

If your business wants to grow by being more relevant, more suitable, more trusted, more intrinsic to what your customer wants, then Lifelines Social Landscapes will help you to achieve it.

How Long does Lifelines Social Landscapes take to deliver?

Lifelines Social Landscapes are fast-paced – designed to be commissioned and completed in a matter of weeks, enabling clients to quickly move from research into implementation and delivering value.

As well as appealing to our existing clients in the complex worlds of healthcare, travel and retail, we are keen to see Lifelines Social Landscapes reach out into new industry sectors, so do feel free to contact us to see how they can help your organisation identify what really matters in your customers’ lives, beyond what they may tell you directly!

For further information about Lifelines Social Landscapes, please contact