“We’ve got the tool – now what?”
The LinkedIn conversation : We’ve got the tool .. now how do we make sense of the tsunami of information? has given way to a number of various responses, but William Benn published one of the most in-depth responses. Some of the highlights from his response for dealing with social media monitoring :
The data can be collated by a free or paid-for web monitoring provider, and largely depending on what you pay will determine the thoroughness of the search and the completeness of the data.
Having established that your web crawling activity has produced literally millions of ‘Clips’ of data – the Tsunami, you need intelligent analysis to make sense of the data and provide tactical and strategic marketing insights. This is where Solutions come in. My suggestion would be to work with a solutions provider who can provide intelligent marketing analysis and insight. These providers provide web monitoring but also data anaysis and interpretation. Such firms will employ statisticians (to check that the reporting is statistically relevant and draw conclusions from the data), mathematicians (to write the algorithms used in the semantic analysis phase of checking data quality, accuracy and relevance), as well as experienced data analysts and marketers (who are able to provide marketing insight from the results data) and even experts in Semiotics to better understand context.
I write this specifically in relation to large brands who typically do not want Tools but instead require Solutions. Most large corporates have been very successful in cutting costs in the last two years, often in their marketing department. So we tend to see an experienced Marketing Director with a vacuum beneath her or him supported by perhaps a much less experienced marcoms exec or junior product manager. In this scenario an avalanche of data provided by a web crawling tool is the last thing they need. This Tsunami as you put it is not helpful because the commodity the marketing team are most lacking in is Time. They lack the time, and often the requisite skills, to analyse and interpret large volumes of data. Nor often do they have time to learn to use a ‘Dashboard’ that purports to tell them everything being said about their brand on the Social Web.
And lastly Balance. By Balance I mean to just stop and check that we are listening in a Balanced way to what is being said about the brand. When I referred to the web monitoring activity producing literally millions of ‘Clips’ of data – I mean clips of data from across the full spectrum of the web not just the social web. There is no point from a brand perspective in only monitoring the social space – Blog and Forum entries, comments on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and videos on Viadeo, YouTube et al. To have a statistically relevant worldview of what is being said about the brand we need to go old school and look also at traditional media such as online editorial and corporate sites. It’s important to measure by source type i.e. by Blog, by Forum as well as by corporate web to understand where a campaign is being successful and the message is getting through but also where more work is required to engage with the audience.
Join in the conversation ; how do you deal with the mass of social and mainstream information?
Do you focus on influential sites and people? Identify communities that are already talking about your key words?