Decisive: Decoding The Emotions Behind Social Sharing

Story by Benjamin F. Kuo


What is is that makes you want to share one piece of content with your friends, but not another? Is one color better than another for sharing photos? Exactly what is the magic behind if a piece of content goes viral or not? We recently ran into a Disney Accelerator startup in Burbank, Decisive (, which has created software which is able to apply predictive analytics and software to do exactly those things, and more. We caught up with CEO and co-founder David Dundas to learn more about what the company is developing.

What is Decisive?

David Dundas: Decisive analyzes images and videos on social networks, to help brands understand what makes their fans want to share and not share. We use our predictive analytics to help them predict how content will be share or not shared, even before they post it.

How is this being used?

David Dundas: We are just starting to work with Disney and a few other brands, and we're looking at their social feeds and scoring each piece of content, so they have a unified measure across all platforms on how their content is performing, and how they can improve it on an ongoing basis. Over the last two months, we have scanned a hundred million comments to understand the sentiment behind it, and we scan for emojies and key phrases to understand what are the emotions people are sharing.

What interesting things have you learned from this?

David Dundas: When you are scrolling through a social media feed, there are certain things that make you stop when you're viewing that feed. Color is one of those. Colors, the sizes of images, if they're optimized for a phone, we'll look at a text posted with it. There's a lot of psychology that goes into this. We're finding these interesting insights, and we're also scanning emoji, which is increasingly how people express their feelings on mobile. That's been a very interesting thing, because it's so efficient. It's more efficient than ten words. It's one visual representation.

Is this available now, and who is using it?

David Dundas: Decisive is available today, and obviously we're at the Disney Accelerator, and they are an investor in the company, so we're working on a few pilots. And then, we are working with a number of agencies. We have about a hundred customers in our beta today, and we're slowly opening up to more customers as we have more bandwidth.

What's been the hardest technical challenge doing what you are doing?

David Dundas: This is hard stuff. Understanding what people are thinking is hard stuff. Fortunately our previous business was an advertising business, and we processed terabytes and terabytes of data a month. We have a lot of technical experience around that. Just understanding the nuances of human motion is a challenge. Sometimes you'll walk into a meeting, and someone will ask, do you understand sarcasm? Do YOU understand sarcasm? I think understanding the human piece of it is the hardest part. It's what is lost that we're trying to recapture. It's all about me, being a human, and a marketer, trying to reconnect with you, and getting you so excited about things that you're willing to share that with other people.

What's the next step for you?

David Dundas: To bring more customers on, we're in the process of raising on another round for more engineering and to support our new clients. This is just the beginning for us to bring on new customers and champion idea that this is really important, and that you need to standardize your measure of this across all platforms.



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