I need to generate data around a very specific criteria/topic in order to analyze the results later on. for instance, i need to generate data around a restaurant and its competition that sell beef burgers to students (age 16-23) , with the following criteria: location: Halifax demographics: Halifax, age 16-23; like outdoor eating, spending around 7$ per meal, students use iphone, students use twitter and facebook, students who go to my competition, students who talk about burgers, retaurants reviews..... Income: students with $20,000 income per year and less... Social media: hashtags about the topic, what people are saying about the topic, tags... etc. Any thoughts or suggestions?

There are so many ways to do it... Do you need this data for yourself, or you are planning to make a product around it?

From what I see you can use Twitter API and Facebook Graph API (Are you comfortable programming?) Most of the students are active on social media so you will find lots of data. Facebook graph API will give you a number of likes and comments to all the posts of you competitors. You can analyze all the posts of your competitors. Using Twitter API you can get all the twits that use certain hashtags or mentions. If you are not into coding, but still want to get social media information, you can take a look at tools like IBM Watson ANalytics ($30 for personal use), it natively connects to Twitter API, and you don't have to be a programmer at all. It is intuitive and easy to learn. Analytics Canvas connects to Facebook Graph API (it's free for 30 days of trial).

Unfortunately, you would not be able to collect any personal information from social media at large scale (age, income, gender, etc.), because it violates all the laws about privacy on the Internet. You can use census data instead.

Google Sheets are a very handy tool if you are planning to use this information for personal research. You can set up a spreadsheet and add some Java script to make it collect all information from competitor's blogs, and also sites like Reddit.

Finally, you can try web scraping (it's not the best, but can speed up the process). A tool like OutWitHub will collect information from websites (such as website reviews) based on the structure you provide (select html tags). You can collect thousands of reviews in one day if you automate it (paid version). Very easy to use.

Note: not all the websites are open to this method, review their policies to make sure you are not violating their terms of service. Reviews belong to the website where they were published.

If you REALLY need personal data (like how much they earn and how much they spend, etc.), just print out 100 questionnaires and go to Student Union Building of Dalhousie University. Most of the students will share any personal data in exchange for a Tim Horton's gift card that gets them a free coffee. It is probably the least technical and fastest way to get all the data you need.

Hope this helps.

Answered 8 years ago

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