DecodingCancerDid you know that the online audience of American cancer centers are huge fans of Food Network stars? If not, you’re not the only one – but the veil is coming off! This morning at the W2O Group’s Precommerce Summit (check the live feed here), I had the great pleasure of announcing a research study that we published this morning in partnership with the Good Scout Group. The report, entitled Decoding the Cancer Center Constituent, is available for free download here.

The research we conducted leverages a revolutionary new technique in social analytics called SocialGraphics – the brainchild of W2O Group analytics gurus Seth Duncan and Andy Boothe. How it works (layman’s edition): Who we follow on twitter says a lot about who we are … what we like … how we interact … how we see ourselves … who and what we affiliate with. So when we want to understand an audience, looking at who they follow on twitter is a pretty good place to start.

Andy was able to compare the followers of America’s comprehensive cancer centers to a normative data set of the followers of 1,000,000 random twitter accounts. A clever clustering algorithm then links those accounts into categories – categories that range from the obvious (Mainstream TV News) to the inspiring (Human Rights Advocates) to the bizarre (e.g., Welsh Punk Rock – no, I’m not kidding). The idea is to see where the cancer centers’ audience overindexes relative to the normative data set as well as where they underindex. Here are a few of the things we learned:

  • The audience for our cancer centers skews heavily female (in itself not surprising; it’s more the degree of that skew that’s surprising, especially since twitter overall skews male).
  • The audience also skews young – also surprising because cancer disproportionately skews older.
  • They’re deeply interested in health news and information, from both the media and from healthcare institutions.
  • As previously mentioned, they love the stars of The Food Network
  • They’re also pretty hip on Star Trek (?!?)
  • They’re much less interested than the general population in skateboarding and online gambling (see what I mean? This stuff is FUN!)

What’s really cool is to dive into the audience profiles of the individual cancer centers … which actually have some pretty interesting points of differentiation from each other that go well beyond size and geography. For example, MD Anderson Cancer Center‘s online audience (when I compared it to another comprehensive cancer center in the Mid-Atlantic Region) yielded some of the following interesting facts about their audience affinity; here’s a tiny sample:


I was thrilled to have the opportunity to present the study and its impact along with Maureen Carlson, the president of Good Scout Group, and Dede DeStefano, the executive director for corporate alliances at MD Anderson Cancer Center. They’re both brilliant communicators who really care about the art and science of communication in healthcare – and they’re both believers in SocialGraphics as a new and important arrow in their quiver of tools to help them understand their audiences and reach them more effectively. What do YOU think? I welcome your questions and feedback after reading the report … download it now here: and leave your comments below – or feel free to contact me ( or Maureen ( if you’d like to know more about how to apply the SocialGraphics methodology in your organization.

Below are videos from Maureen and I describing the process behind the report: