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A Recap of #BigBoulder 2014

Social Media Analytics, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Strategy

A Recap of #BigBoulder 2014

The Tracx team had a blast at the third annual Big Boulder Conference in Colorado. Hosted by The Big Boulder Initiative (BBI), the two-day conference explored the rapidly growing and evolving social media data landscape. Presenters from various disciplines including market research, finance, CPG, tech, and academia shared their latest work and thoughts on where the industry is headed.

Highlights from the conference included:


The Big Boulder Initiative is leading the change to publish a code of ethics for the social media data industry. It was apparent throughout the conference that everyone working with social data is eager for more clear guidelines and bylaws governing everything from user privacy to publishing findings to how to educate the greater public about the ways this data is being used. At Tracx, we’re always looking to be as transparent and clear as possible about how we collect and use social data. We think that a cross-industry set of guidelines will be a huge step forward.


One of the panels on the first day of the conference covered how social data professionals are adapting as non-text content continues to grow in popularity on the social web. David Rose, CEO of Ditto Labs, highlighted the importance of image analysis by noting that there is text included in only 28% of Tumblr posts. The panel also noted that the majority of image content is coming from women via mobile devices. The opportunity for brands and researchers is to leverage this data to see what images people are responding to. Tracx definitely sees the rise of non-text content as part of the future of social data.


As social continues to produce topic-driven communities, various participants at Big Boulder wondered about the validity of standard demographic grouping. The group “Millenials” is particularly relevant in this line of thinking, as there is little connecting this group aside from a broad age range. Kevin Driscoll, PhD, discussed his current research focused on the “Black Twitter” phenomenon, a group that is ever present on Twitter, but difficult to clearly define. While this group has a clear connection with African American popular culture and current politics, it is not representative of all African American people, nor are all the people participating in it African American. Social data provides previously unheard of access to behavioral and relationship data that deepens and complicates group definitions for researchers. Tracx has explored these ideas in customer segmentation research and our tool allows for deep insight into how people organize on social media.


Several presenters made the trip over from China, including Dachen Chu, VP of Corporate Strategy at Sina, the company behind the poular Weibo platform. The opportunities and challenges that social data presents in China are strikingly similar to those in other parts of the world. Hot topics from China included social command centers and integrating social with other sources of data. While there are still logistical, cultural, and legal hurdles faced by Western companies looking to leverage Chinese social media data, it’s somewhat refreshing to know that the industry is in a similar state in that part of the world.

A big thanks to GNIP and Twitter for including us in this year’s Big Boulder! See you next year!

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Here’s a personal favorite picture of mine from our hike in The Flatirons!

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