Insight
Interviews

Intelligence People: Joe Rice of Twitter

Intelligence People profiles the experts driving the development of social media intelligence, this week we sit down with Joe Rice, Developer and Enterprise Solutions at Twitter.

When did you first become involved in the ‘social intelligence’ sector?

Back in 2012 I joined a small startup that allowed event attendees to share posts and photos on social networks utilizing RFID technology. We’d then share the engagement metrics of those posts as well as an analysis of the topics discussed. It was rather simple analysis, but fascinating none the less, and highlighted to me that social data had relevance beyond marketing and advertising.
 

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Many things including an architect (loved my Lego) a pilot (they used to let kids sit in the cockpit!) and a professional basketball player.
 

What, in your opinion, are the key benefits of social data analysis for organizations?

Social data is a very unique data source. Where else can you get authentic, unprompted commentary that’s in the moment, when the experience is actually happening? It’s literally the voice of the customer, which is not an easy thing to capture these days. It also provides a unique combination of quantitative and qualitative insights. Most of the data that companies analyse today is their own, and it tends to be lagging indicators such as revenue. Social data on the other hand provides leading indicators and context as to why things are happening. We’re also seeing some innovative work done around prediction using social data. More to come there but excited to see that space develop.
 

What aspects of your work do you most enjoy?

I love hearing stories of how organizations have used Twitter data to solve problems and discover new insights that helped them make better decisions. Part of my job is to share these stories to inspire others.
 

What are the biggest challenges in your day-to-day work?

  • Staying focused and not letting tactical elements (or admin) take over my day and encroach into time for reading and synthesis. I receive lots of research reports, case studies and surveys and want to read them all, but finding the time is difficult.

 

Are you worried about regulatory restrictions impacting on your work in the future?

Twitter is a uniquely open service. We believe privacy is a right, not a privilege, and is built into the foundations of the company. We provide everyone who uses Twitter with clear tools to control privacy settings, advertising targeting, and data sharing. Twitter supports a strong standard for privacy which would protect consumers and allow all businesses — tech or otherwise — to respond to one set of guidelines. That said, California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) has set a strong example for the US to follow and we’re always working to ensure our services meet applicable regulations, whether that’s CCPA, GDPR or regulations to come.
 

Which social data analysis tools do you use? Do you have a favorite?

I’ve had a play with most of them over the years. We’ve used Crimson (now Brandwatch) internally for years so I know their platform quite well.
 

Do you think the ‘social intelligence’ community needs its own professional body?

I think at least a support group would go a long way. A place where professionals could get advice and share best practices with one another. As for a professional body, I’ve argued for a while that social intelligence shouldn’t be a separate thing nor live in isolation. In fact it’s at its best when it’s layered over other data sources. Therefore I think social intelligence should be an important part of wider industry bodies such as ESOMAR or the Institute of Analytics (IOA). I’d also like to see a professional code of ethics in using social data which highlights our duty to act ethically and ensure the data we are using has been collected legally and with user protection in mind.
 

Name a book you would recommend to others

Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil is a fascinating read and highly relevant to the topic of social intelligence and the larger themes of data science and data ethics.
 

Name a social account that everyone should follow

Oh my, where do I begin? @SoVeryBritish, @Number10cat, @paddingtonbear and of course yours truly. 😉
 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to follow you on social?

My mother. She might be surprised how funny I am.

 


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Jillian Ney
Jillian Ney
Dr Jillian is the founder of The Social Intelligence Lab. She has worked in the social intelligence industry for over a decade as researcher, consultant, spokesperson and author. She's on a mission to bring the industry together and give social intelligence the place it deserves as a recognised and supported discipline. Ask her about digital behavioural science, purchasing decisions and why Scotland is the best place on earth. More content by

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