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CloudMaker from Tribe Research: Word Clouds For Real Research

bigstockphoto_Cloud_Word_2528970Word clouds are so cool.  The first time I found Wordle, I played with it for an hour.

But to be honest, I never really thought of it as much more than a curiosity…sort of a twist on trivia. What words are most frequent on a favorite blog’s page? Wordle would show it in cool colors and an appealing mix of horizontal and vertical lay-outs.

So when I saw that Tribe Research‘s Tribal ToolKit now includes a word cloud tool, I was eager to take it for a test drive.  How could word clouds really add insight? Be more than just a toy?

CloudMaker is a word cloud tool that can draw input from web pages, Twitter feeds (though, alas, restricted to Twitter’s self-imposed 20 tweet limit), and CSV files.  The CSV files part is the important one—since this is what allows you to import any text you want…like open-ended responses from a survey you were loathe to tally the hard way.

To get started, I set up an account (you need to buy some very reasonably-priced credits). Once I had my account, my first use was to check my blog page.  Was my content well-aligned with my intended message? Well, let’s use CloudMaker to find out. Here is the result (I could have added colors but I chose to keep it simple):

tribe test

(I am not sure why it is pasting in sort of fuzzy; the original image looks much better on my computer).

The process was easy. With no training, it took me 6 minutes to specify the web page from which to draw the blog entries, and set some parameters. For example, I only wanted words that appeared at least 5 times to be included in the cloud.  I also spent a couple of minutes blocking common words (“you,” “your,” “some,” “very,” etc.).

The real power will be for people with open-ended responses to analyze.  Simply create a text file (easy to export from SPSS), and upload it to CloudMaker. You can even opt to have CloudMaker include the frequency counts. I’d also like to try this for analyzing interview transcripts.

Small is Beautiful: The 1-question Survey

There is a survey option as well. Want to know what 3 words people associate with your product, service, or overall brand?  The survey tool in CloudMaker lets you create a 1 question poll that accepts up to 3 text answers (best for 1 or 2-word answers). You get a URL to forward to survey-takers, and the software has built-in security (like preventing the same computer from answering the survey more than once). One catch: write your question carefully—once you create it and start data collection, you can’t edit it. So if you want to pre-test, plan accordingly (either do the pre-test via an email version of the question, or plan to use your CloudMaker credits for a pre-test).

Overall, Tribe Research has created an easy tool for applying word clouds to real business.

[I welcome any and all comments! Every 2 weeks I randomly select a commenter to win a Rockstar Mug: PIC. Next drawing is 10/23.  Our last winner was Joy Levin—Congrats Joy!!]

Kathryn Korostoff

Kathryn Korostoff is founder and lead instructor at Research Rockstar. Over the past 25 years, she has personally directed more than 600 primary market research projects and published over 100 bylined articles in magazines. She is also a professor at Boston University, where she teaches grad students how to analyze and report quantitative data.

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