Not Big Data, the “Right” Data – An Interview with Marshall Sponder

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Not Big Data, the “Right” Data – An Interview with Marshall Sponder


marshall sponder

For our second Synthesio Sessions, the renowned WebMetricsGuru Mr. Marshall Sponder stopped by our NYC offices for a coffee and a chat. If you’re a fan of Social Media, SEO, Analytics and the like, Marshall certainly needs no introduction, but just for good measure – Marshall is a Social Media & Web Analyst, a prolific Speaker, Blogger, Consultant, and Author of the recently published book Social Media Analytics. Perhaps less widely known is that Marshall is also a talented artist and a teacher, always happy to speak his mind and share his thoughts from his various experiences.

For more info on Marshall (and some more very cool examples of his artwork, like the one below) check out his Twitter account. Upon us offering the interview, Marshall responded with a cool smile and eagerly answered our questions. Thus, coffee in hand and having discussed everything from life to photography to teaching, we were now ready to begin our interview on our favorite topic: Social Media Monitoring. Let’s share our key findings with you!

What are your recommended top best uses for social media monitoring?

Marshall recommended the following uses as the most important for any brand:

Market Research is becoming the center point of brand strategies across all industries. By turning a vast array of data into meaningful insights, social media monitoring truly fuels any brand’s strategy. These insights can feed all departments across the company from Marketing to Customer Support to PR. Sponder further explains why Crisis Management is such a key element of Social Media Monitoring. “It takes years for a brand to build a reputation, but only seconds to destroy it.”

Auto-Portrait by Marshall


Who do you feel should ‘own’ social media monitoring in business?

To answer this, Marshall used the image of a continuum. According to him, the department responsible for social media depends on where a brand stands in its foray into the digital world. A brand with very limited knowledge and understanding of social media (yes, this is becoming a rare species, we agree) would most likely have its IT department in charge, as the role of social media remains small and more ‘technical’. As a brand grows in social presence, social media sequentially lies in the hands of PR, Marketing, and Customer Support.


What’s your most hated social media buzzword? Would you like to attempt to coin the next big buzzword here as a Synthesio exclusive?

“With no hesitation, ‘sentiment’!”, Marshall exclaimed. Technology is still too immature when it comes to accurately determining the ‘sentiment’ – positive, negative or neutral feeling – of a specific verbatim. Irony, sarcasm, cultural references and lingo – to mention just a few complications – remain mysteries to a machine.”We both agreed that it will be another 5 years before technology matures enough to achieve excellent sentiment analysis on its own.

Concerning a new and cool buzzword, Marshall very elegantly coined the phrase “Not big data, the right data”. While collecting vast amounts of data is increasingly paramount to attain an in-depth global understanding of a brand, collecting the RIGHT information tends to be forgotten.

What’s your favorite example/use case of ROI for social media listening?

Marshall’s photographer friend Ed King nearly doubled his income by joining various circles on Google+ to promote his work. A great example of the power of social media to touch a large and growing base of consumers!

Thank you, Marshall Sponder for your insights! We shall meet again.

Follow Marshall Sponder on his Blog, Twitter, Social Media for the Arts and Google+.

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