Gisborne-based Riposte Analytics is a social app, and analytics platform aiming to enable users to create change by leveraging our natural sharing tendencies. Erin Westover finds out more.

Social media platforms are treasure troves of data; the only problem is, the data we create is often repackaged and sold to businesses by third parties. Products and services are pushed on to consumers who fit certain specs, instead of being used to understand them more deeply.

To turn the data we freely create into something organisations can use, Debs Hancock created Riposte Analytics.

Founded in 2016, Riposte is a consumer-facing app and analytics dashboard that uses machine learning to categorise what people share to identify trends in real-time. The dashboard’s software is flexible enough to track whatever insight an organisation is after.

Riposte is similar to other social media platforms in terms of sharing images and links and creating groups. But the similarities end there.

Riposte is more of a social reflection app than a social media one. Riposte users are limited to only two posts a day: their ‘fistpump’ (a positive experience) and ‘facepalm’ (a negative experience) moment. They also choose between eighteen emotions to most accurately describe their experience.

There’s no way to comment on posts, and when Riposte users like another’s post, they click ‘Support.’ So far, users report that they feel like they can share experiences without having to worry about trolling or patronizing comments.

Users also decide who their audience is, whether it’s their friends or the general public. Posts can also be kept private. Either way, organisations have access to the data analytics if the Riposte user opts into the research group while posts are kept anonymous.

Reposte Analytics
Debs Hancock founder of Riposte Analytics.

Riposte’s founder Debs Hancock is a data analyst who spent years working in police intelligence in South Auckland and as a security analyst for SKYCITY. In these roles, she used data to identify trends and create initiatives to prevent crime.

Data can be powerful in enacting change, but to Hancock, it doesn’t have to be analysed behind the scenes and taken unknowingly from the people producing it. In fact, she finds that people are usually happy to share, especially if they believe their data is part of something bigger.

“We already use data in multiple areas of society, from crime, public health, and business performance to market research. Our mission is to create a useful resource for social and wellbeing data to help organisations be more strategic and effective when addressing social or wellbeing concerns,” Hancock explains.

Hancock says that when people are free to share without pressure and know exactly where their data is going, it begins to resemble a transparent feedback loop. Attaining feedback is something she found business owners, managers, and H.R. professionals still struggling with. For instance, response rates are often low in surveys.

While people don’t generally like to fill out surveys, people are usually happy to share their thoughts and feelings on social media – as long as they are still feeling that way.

“If you ask them a week or two later, the feeling’s gone, and they can’t be bothered. People have to spend a lot of mental energy thinking about what they felt to give an authentic response,” says Hancock.

In this way, Riposte is leveraging our natural tendencies and turning our data into a more tangible product that companies can use to keep a ‘pulse’ on how their people are going.

During lockdown, Riposte partnered with the Christchurch-based mindfulness service Wanderble for Hack the Crisis NZ to build a collective mindfulness experience using mindfulness and reflection data. The team placed second and has continued on to develop a 14-day workplace wellness challenge. The challenge will involve teams from different workplaces around the country participating in the Wanderble mindfulness course, sharing on Riposte, and competing for prizes.

“We know that mindfulness helps to reduce stress and increase focus and creativity, and during Hack the Crisis NZ we found that 90% of people would be more likely to try mindfulness if they knew it would benefit the community. So, by using Riposte we can track how the different teams are feeling throughout the challenge and share that collective experience with each of the teams.”

Hancock tested early versions of Riposte in workplaces, and the feedback was positive. When upper management made changes based on real-time feedback, people were happy, and they shared it. But when a prefect from a Gisborne high school approached Riposte to use the platform for a school-wide initiative, a new target market was born. Used to increase engagement between students, the result of the high school campaign exceeded expectations.

The campaign gave insights into the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of students returning to school after lockdown, something that would otherwise take a strong relationship to uncover. Riposte’s platform design allows users to be vulnerable, providing organisations deeper insights into how to offer the right support at the right time.

Today, Kiko Innovation and Tautua Village are using Riposte to provide ongoing feedback and evaluation for their youth entrepreneurship programme.

Hancock says, “When we talk about ‘support,’ it doesn’t always have to be a big action or large-scale programme. Sometimes it’s the small acts of kindness or support, delivered at the right time and in a relevant way to the person or group that has the greatest impact.”

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