Type: Partnership


Using social media to build engagement



The Challenge

Following the release of the award-winning documentary Bully (2012), HI undertook an independent study to measure the film’s influence in online social networks. Directed by Lee Hirsch, Bully is a cinematic, character-driven documentary that explores the issue of bullying at the heart of American schools. Embedded in schools and communities, the filmmakers present a personal view of this social issue and showcase the work of those who are fighting for change. Over a five-month period HI followed the response to the film on social networks.


The Approach

A variety of technical platforms provided data to track social media activity around Bully. To measure engagement and behavior over time, HI researchers analyzed data from bitly, a popular link shortening service. For more in depth analysis researchers used social media analysis platform Crimson Hexagon to track conversations and measure sentiment on a variety of social networks. Together, these sources returned almost 200,000 posts for analysis. HI drew on new research in the computational social sciences to assess impact using these large data sets.


The Results

The report examines the remarkable success of Bully‘s social media campaign and offers implications for media makers who wish to use social media. More broadly, it explores the unique characteristics of online communication regarding social issues.