girl using social media on a laptop

Vizie helps goverment agencies listen and respond to customers' comments on social media. Photo: iStockphoto

Vizie provides social media monitoring to identify customer needs

Our social media monitoring tool Vizie is transforming the way government agencies listen to, understand and respond to customer feedback from social media.

  • 14 April 2011 | Updated 22 April 2013

Social media is full of valuable information about customer experiences that can help governments tailor services to the needs of citizens and add value to the way they deliver services.

We're working with a number of government agencies to explore new social technologies as flexible ways to reach customers and provide them with the information they need.

"We're hopeful the system will begin to learn what items we follow up and those we don't, and eventually begin to assign a priority ranking to move those higher up the list."

Mr Hank Jongen, General Manager Communication, Department of Human Services

Social media gives government departments and businesses more channels to listen to customers, tailor services for customer groups, identify issues of concern and respond to customers in a timely manner.

But with so many social media channels it becomes difficult and time consuming for organisations to monitor customer feedback.


Vizie is a CSIRO-developed social media monitoring tool, originally developed with the Australian Government Department of Human Services Digital Media team.

The software, based on our research in text analysis, searches multiple platforms for defined keywords and decides which tweet/blog/post is relevant, distinguishing between an accidental mention and text where the department is the focus. 

Vizie sorts the social media posts, which helps identify 'hot topics' which are being discussed more often at a particular time.

Only publicly-available social media data and metadata is used.

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Vizie: social media monitoring to identify customer needs
Vizie is a social media analysis tool that supports understanding of issues being discussed in the community. In this video a researcher and a Vizie user explain how it works and why it's useful.


Dr. Wan: Social media and online web content are a great source of feedback for an organisation’s public communications. For example, at CSIRO this public communication might be a Press Release about advancements in scientific research, or for another organisation it might also be a public message for health and safety.

Vizie helps collect and automate the collection of this feedback from publically available social media, analyses it, and presents the results of the analysis to the Media and Communications team. This highlights to the team which parts of the message are popular and resonates well with the online community, which parts of the message are well understood, and also which parts of the message could be refined further to avoid misunderstanding.

Vanessa Hill: We use many different tools to monitor CSIRO across social media, like HootSuite and Google Alerts for example. But Vizie has a huge benefit in its visual interface because it gives you a really broad overview of many different things, so it monitors different channels, and it allows us to sort that by topic as well, so we can monitor trends across everywhere online.

Dr. Wan: One thing that CSIRO’s Media and Communications team are interested in is the feedback that they can get through social media about their public communications. Here we can see some examples of those communications (demonstrating), in this case the four o’clock fact, and these are little nuggets of scientific information that are pushed forward on Twitter, and on this particular day there was a tweet about the coining of the word ‘nerd’, which was apparently by Dr. Seuss in 1950. That was popular, and almost as popular as the tweet about the amount of energy that’s in an iPhone battery, and apparently that’s equivalent to about the energy in a jellybean.

By drilling down into the cluster to see all the tweets that are related to that topic, this gives the Media and Communications team a little bit of feedback about what’s popular, what resonates with the online community and their audience.

Vanessa Hill: So using Vizie really lets us take a proactive approach to issues management. There was an example last year with a YouTube video that misquoted some of our coal seam gas research, when we detected it was uploaded on YouTube about an hour after, and we were able to stop the campaign before it was broadcast.

Dr. Wan: This is the graphical overview that Vizie displays to the user (demonstrating), showing an overview of the social media content collected. In this case we’re presenting about a week’s amount of content collected for CSIRO’s Media and Communications team, and there the different colours represent the different media types for all the content that was collected there.

So in blue we’ve got a large collection of data over Twitter, and that’s really interesting to see what topics were collected. We’re now looking at the blog content (demonstrating), and the comments on new sites. We’ve got the online news articles. And it’s really interesting to see the relationship between the news articles and the Twitter discussions that that generates.

I’ve highlighted an area in blue (demonstrating). The area tells us how much content we’ve collected relative to some of the other topics, so in this case the topic there that I’ve highlighted is SKA, which stands for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder Telescope. And on that particular day the telescope launched, and that was a really popular event, generating a lot of online activity, and you can see that that area generated a lot of content here (demonstrating); you can see that on the right. And if you want to compare that particular topic to some of the topics later on in the week you can start to get a feeling of the relative popularity of each of these topics.

Ultimately the aim is to help with the refinement of the communications strategy for further communications. For Government organisations this might be a vital step in improving the delivery of information rich services.

Narrator: For more information on Vizie, go to our website.

A unique feature of Vizie is its visualisation component.

A river graph represents the retrieved posts in a simple overview so that staff can instantly see the 'hot topics' and how they are changing over time.

It also allows them to isolate the original post in order to discover its context.

Stream graph

CSIRO's social media monitoring tool uses a river graph to allow users to see topic trends and drill down to the source of posts.

Engaging with customers

Unlike other social media monitoring tools, Vizie is designed to support engagement with customers, not just provide summaries of social media activity.

Prior to using Vizie, the Digital Media team at the Department of Human Services spent time conducting manual searches or using multiple off-the-shelf monitoring tools to track customer feedback on social media.

Vizie allows staff to prioritise posts, identifying which posts most need follow up comments to prevent the spread of misinformation.

Staff provide a response or clear up a misunderstanding quickly, pointing the customer in the right direction to the information they need or helping to direct their concerns to the right area.

Vizie alsoallows staff to track these activities once they have responded to a post – which means there is no duplication of work across the team.

Partner with us 

We're interested in working with companies and government departments who would like to use our Vizie software.