Integrating Human Insights Into Text Analysis: Semi-Supervised Topic Modeling of Emerging Food-Technology Businesses’ Brand Communication on Social Media

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Textual social media data have become indispensable to researchers’ understanding of message strategies and other marketing practices. In a new departure for the field of brand communication, this study adopts and extends a semi-supervised machine-learning approach, guided latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA), which incorporates human insights into the discovery and classification of topics. We used it to analyze tweets from businesses involved with an emerging food technology, cultured meat, and delineated four key message strategies used by these brands: providing functional, educational, corporate social responsibility, and relational content. We further ascertained the relationships between brands and the key topics embedded in their Twitter data. A comparison of model performance suggests that guided LDA can be an advantageous alternative to traditional LDA, which is characterized by high efficiency and immense popularity among researchers, but—because of its unsupervised nature—yields findings that can be difficult to interpret. The present study therefore has critical theoretical and methodological implications for communication and marketing scholars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-437
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Science Computer Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • computational text analysis
  • cultured meats
  • guided latent Dirichlet allocation
  • machine learning
  • social media marketing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Law

Cite this