Image courtesy Spatial.ai
There are billions of people talking about their mindsets, interests and attitudes on social media and there was no company that was capturing that data on a geographical level. That is, until three years ago when Spatial.ai released its geosocial dataset.
Cincinnati Future spoke with Lyden Foust, Spatial.ai’s CEO, about how the company began and the tech behind its success.
How did the idea for the tech come about?
Foust: I was doing a lot of ethnographic research for P&G as a consultant. I would go to a city and study its culture for a period of time and come back with insights. I did a lot of the research by writing surveys for people to ask about how they felt about products. But I found that I was impacting my own data by my questions.
Then I realized that people are talking about their interests all over social media.
How did the company form?
Foust: I worked at GE Aviation and had a friend there who worked with the airflow data coming off of jet engines. We just transferred that to social media. One would never expect ethnographic research to connect airflow data from jet engines. But it worked out pretty well.
Can you describe your process?
Foust: We’re pulling data from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Flicker, 4Square, Meetup.com, Eventful and Yelp, but it’s mostly Twitter and Instagram posts. We organize all those billions of posts into 72 different segments of interest and communities. We can zero in on a particular neighborhood and find out if they’re talking about literature, gardening, dogs, etc. A little insight: Since COVID hit, data from pet lovers has gone through the roof. And there are a lot more wine lovers.
There are companies that do unreal stuff with our data. I just posted an article on the top 20 companies built on geosocial in 2020.