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Infographic: How do preconceptions influence perceptions of social media content?

14th Apr 2016
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Do preconceptions influence our opinions of social media content? What happens when we don't know who we're reading on social media?

These were the questions explored in a study by data-driven marketing agency Artios

1,000 UK adults ‘blind tested’ social media content from popular Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, presented with  plain text, anonymised posts from a selection of popular accounts.

The study participants were then asked them to rate them on six criteria, including trustworthiness, approachability and friendliness.

Andreas Voniatis, data science lead at Artios, summarises the reasons for the study: "Our reactions to social media content can very easily be clouded by an author's appearance, ethnicity, gender or how they self-identify. We often read a person's biography before finalising our reaction to their post. Reactions can even be coloured by context, such as the channel on which content is consumed or by news stories that may be trending at the time.

"We wanted to see what happened when people were unable to access their existing biases. By presenting the content in plain text, absent of any social or personal context, we were able to get a different measure of its impact. Often, content that was well received in its original context came across negatively when participants didn't know the origin.

"Conversely, some content that was received badly at the time of publishing was received favourably when taken in isolation, such as David Cameron's tribute to David Bowie, which was rated positively by 67% of participants.

"One of the most interesting things was just how well brand posts performed overall. Protein World, who experienced a lot of negative responses last year during their beach body ready campaign, received a positive response from 58% of people for a post about weight loss goals. John Lewis's post talking about back to work day was rated positively by 45% of people."

The infographic below summarises the main findings. 


Social media opinions

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