Talking the same language: how Foco used social data to examine mental health

One challenge presented by studying social data is that the volumes can be so large that it is hard to extract meaning, as well as an indication of how people are truly feeling. Is it possible to uncover the energy within a network?

A recent collaboration between audience intelligence platform Pulsar and John Shewell at Foco – a fintech PR and content marketing agency – for a study for the RSA raised some interesting questions about how we study these energies within various networks, based on the strength of conversations and connections.

The report examined conversations around mental health in the Manchester area, and found that mental health discussion is growing, particularly amongst younger groups aged 14-24, yet local authorities were not speaking in the same language.

This paper examines the methodology behind this study, the importance of the insights uncovered, and the way the methodology can be applied to similar studies.


The challenge: data collection and analysis at scale, to understand the both the topic at hand, but also how to use social media research to analyse difficult topics, and how to identify the energy within a network. Limitations of budget and time were a problem.

The solution: Using Pulsar TRAC, we set the search parameters and filters to gather the most relevant and useful conversations to ensure that we were honing in on the most meaningful data specific to the project – which in this case was about identifying all the conversations and connections relating to mental health among young people across the Greater Manchester area.

The hypothesis was around whether social media network analysis can identify the energy within a network based on the strength of the conversations and connections relating to mental health issues. Setting up a study using historical data, this data was analysed by John Shewell at Foco to uncover the insights to write the RSA report.

The results: The key findings were all valuable to the client in developing policy but also helpful to John Shewell in developing new methodology around this sort of study using social data.

Download the full case study now to understand how this study worked, and the ‘6 T’ methodology for uncovering energy within a network that came out of it

Where next?

A Guide to Social Media Demographics

Introducing Pulsar 3.0