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Social Data…

Social Data is currently the fastest growing discipline in Social Media Marketing. Many brands have embraced ‘Social Listening’ (the process of capturing conversations from the social media). So why am I now telling you to stop listening? Simple, I want you to get value from the mass of social data out there and not just do it for the sake of it.

Using Social Listening platforms alone will never give you valuable audience insights, measure the performance of a campaign or identify relevant influencers. At best it will give you a pretty dashboard that uses very basic segmentation to present the data. The real power of social data comes from manual analysis. In fact I’m a firm believer in the 80/20 rule (80% manual analysis / 20% tool) when it comes to this social data.

Defining what you want you want from social data is mandatory. Listening for brand or product mentions without an objective is a complete waste of time.

Stop and think about what you want from the data. For example do you want audience insights to inform a strategy or do you want data to populate a campaign performance dashboard?

Now consider that what you put into these social listening systems directly impacts the quality of data returned. This sounds obvious but you would be surprised by the number of social media and marketing professionals who don’t invest time in this step. You need to create keyword taxonomies that will allow you capture the correct conversations. You also need to go through a data quality testing process. Create, test and optimise. I can’t think of one project when my team have been happy with the data returned on the first attempt. Invest in this process it’s worth it.

Once you’re satisfied with the data returned it’s time to slice and dice it. This is virtually impossible within the popular social listening platforms. Real analysis can usually only be carried out on the raw data. So export it into a format you can work with. Most analysis and data modelling can be carried out in an excel spreadsheet.

Even when you just want to understand something as basic as the sentiment around your brand online, I recommend you don’t rely on the what the listening tool tells you. Take sample set and conduct a quick manual analysis and you’ll discover that  these tools cannot accurately measure sentiment. You will need to export and tag the data yourself.

If you are starting to think this sounds like a job for a social data specialist and not the marketing team, you would be correct. Even traditional data specialists struggle with social data. It’s not binary it’s analysis of human conversations and all the linguistic complexities that go with that.

I don’t want this to scare anyone away from social data. I just want you to think about what you could be achieving. Social Data offers brands powerful audience insights when you treat it with the respect it deserves.

What can you achieve when your social data is the hands of a specialist?

How about a user journey that maps your customers experience of your brand, product or service against every touch point and then identifies their key complaints or compliments and how influential these people are. My team at Ogilvy produced this for a client this year. It’s possible when you know what you’re doing.

Social data is powerful take the time to stop and think about it seriously.

For more content on Social Data please refer to this new article ‘A Lesson in Social Data for Brands: Expression vs. Intention

About the author

Kohlben Vodden has written 69 articles for

Head of Social Media & Content Strategy @ #Ogilvy London + Editor of @whatworkswhere – Social Media Blog.
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