An illuminating day that will change the way you communicate, interact, and transact with customers.

Now in its second year, the MRS Social Media Research Summit will showcase some of the most creative and resourceful new thinking that allows for effective communications and transactions.

You’ll get to understand the social media behaviours and trends that are having a significant impact on both business and society. You’ll also discover the techniques that allow brands to get ever closer to customers for deeper understanding and for profit.

Whether you're an insight professional, or a brand manager, this event will help you to face the considerable challenges, and reap the considerable benefits, of using social media to better understand your customers.

  • What the demand for social media ‘transparency’ really means for brands
  • How commercial influences manifest across a range of different social media platforms
  • How social media is forging cross-generational communication – and what the social and commercial implications are
  • How social media can be relied upon to help activate successful marketing
  • In a world of fake– how we can tap into truly authentic voices
  • How can insight professionals tune their techniques to successfully measure influence?
  • How you can use social media data to build predictive systems
  • How cultural understanding and context is critical in reading social media insight
  • How can brands navigate and understand an individual customer’s multitude of online ‘personalities’

This conference will allow you the time and space to examine some of the profound strategic and technical issues facing us all in trying to harness social media for the benefit of understanding.

Join us for a day that could change the way you interact, understand and transact with customers.


Radisson Blu Edwardian
9-13 Bloomsbury Street,London,WC1B 3QD


Registration and coffee


Opening comments from the Chair

Richard Young, Journalist & Editor


An asymmetry of information? Social data and consumer expectations for transparency

Social media has brought consumers ever closer together and many describe it as something that they could not live without. But as social media becomes ever more integrated with other sites and services, and with the first insurance product which determines risk, and pricing, based on social data brought to market earlier this year, so consumers understand the implications of sharing this data? This presentation will bring together qualitative and quantitative data to examine consumer attitudes to potential - and current - innovations in the use of social data, and their implications for expectations around transparency and informed consent.

Cordelia Hay, Research Director, BritainThinks


Social media influence: what this really looks like across the platforms, and how brands can leverage it

‘Influence’ cannot be reduced to ‘reach’, but relies on context, relevance, and inspired trust, none of which can be measured using data alone. Using a forensic approach, Flamingo has critically analysed four major social media platforms – Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter – to understand how influence plays out differently across each of them. Through this understanding, they discuss how brands can most effectively leverage the individual strengths of each platform.

Anna Wilmot, Research Executive, Flamingo
Lucas Galan, Head of Digital Forensics, Flamingo


Morning refreshments & networking


Agelessness – how social media is bridging age divides

Social media is often described as the new bus stop or park bench: a space for teenagers to hang out with each away from their parents. However, Matilda will be proposing that because of its diversity, social media can also be important for bridging gaps between generations, bringing them closer together. Her insight is grounded in demographic trends, which show the gap between young and old decrease as Gen Z grows up faster, Millennials delay adulthood and Gen X and Boomers live in very different ways to their parents.

Matilda Andersson, Head of Insight and Innovation, Crowd DNA


Putting your money where their mouth is: from social media insight to activation

Social media is increasingly accepted as a powerful source of insight. But how much would you back it as an engine for marketing activation? Will Goodhand, Global Insight Partnership Director at Kantar, shares case studies of deploying advertising to audiences directly defined by social media insights. How is it done? Why? And what's the impact?

Will Goodhand, Global Insights Partnership Director, Kantar TNS


When fake is real & real is fake: whatever happened to authenticity in social media communications?

For teenagers, your main, "real" Instagram is where you show off the Photoshopped, highly curated version of your life - and your "Finsta" (fake Instagram) is where you get real with friends. Photo-editing is de rigeur, and everything from Snapchat filters to your Samsung phone will even out your skin, narrow your jaw, widen your eyes. Meanwhile, older Millennials are trying to #liveauthentic with perfectly-curated and posed shots of perfect landscapes, and lattes, and rough wood tables on which stand artisanal avocado toasts... and their younger siblings are just meming and ironic about everything from pop culture to mental health. Is anything real any more, and what are brands supposed to do about it?

Jess Owens, Research Director, Pulsar


Lunch & networking


Will they like it?

This presentation will take a look at how socially influenced our consumer decision making is becoming on so many levels. How our desire to impress our friends on social media is shaping our consumer choices, how we are cross influencing our friend with our opinions on social media how we are more relying on popularity heuristics to make consumer decisions. It will examine the new things researchers need measure and think about to help brands to become more socially desirable.

Jon Puleston, VP of Innovation, Lightspeed


Overheard on the Internet; culture, context and conversations

There’s no denying that the internet is an amazing place, filled with a wealth of naturally occurring consumer conversations that ought to be of interest to researchers. Ever-advancing social listening tools enable us to scrape, code and quantify this conversation and we’re rightly excited at the prospects for research. Yet as with any other big data source, it’s just information. The key to using social scraping in the research context is not one of finding the right tool, they all have their limitations, but in the application of what ethnographers call ‘thick data’. That is the culture, context and human understanding that enable us to ask the right questions and interpret and explain what we are seeing. Otherwise digital listening will remain conversations overheard and not understood.

Kelly McKnight, Head of Culture & Trends, Join the Dots


Afternoon refreshments & networking


The Divided Self

Our immersion in social media creates a data set that records and defines us with incredible accuracy. However, this definition is not a singularity and is composed of different aspects captured and expressed on different platforms. Understanding this complex composite is the key for brands and insight professionals who are hoping to make the most of the opportunities created by the emergence of the digital self.

Bob Cook, Board Director, Firefish


Debate: The client reaction

In this final session of the day, representatives from leading brands reveal the challenges they have faced in proving the value of social insight and how they have been overcome. And we hear their responses to the challenges and assertions made through the day.

Chair: Fran Cassidy, Founder, Cassidy Media Partnership and Project Lead, 
Liza Madrigal, Marketing Director UK & Global Travel Retail, Freixenet UK
Steven Gutierrez, Digital Comms Manager, TfL


Closing remarks


End of conference

Additional Information

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