For the past two years as an Account Manager at Visible Technologies I have worked with clients from all over the world as they embark on and manage their social data programs. These are companies who are constantly being written about across social channels and while some collect just a few posts a day, most of them have hundreds or thousands of posts written about them every week and the key question that each of them has asked has been “how do I manage all of the data that is written about my company?”
Regardless of position, I think everyone who is part of a social listening project needs to know how they can incorporate managing their Social Intelligence data into the rest of their already busy schedules. My most successful clients have undertaken a strategy of smart listening which can be achieved with just a few steps.
It all starts with asking the right questions:
1) What are you hoping to learn? You are not going to read every post written about you, nor do you need to. The first step is to identify what it is you are hoping to learn. Are you hoping to find out how people feel about your brand or a specific product or competitor? Are you hoping to see if your advertising campaign has traction across your target audience?
Knowing what you need to learn will help provide you the right direction for creating data searches and data collection that will provide you with just the data that is relevant to your project. By refining your data collection and deciding what is relevant (and unrelated) to your projects, you will reduce the number of posts you are tasked with managing on a regular basis.
2) What do you need to listen for? Once you are collecting the right posts, you need to understand what data will provide the most insight. Identify what metrics will help answer your business questions and spend your time on the data that will provide you the information you need. If you are looking to monitor share of voice, knowing the daily volumes of brand mentions online versus your competitors will help you stay current. If you are managing your brand’s reputation online, you would look for authors discussing your brand and looking for trends in sentiment and what may be driving conversations. By being mindful of your metrics, you can quickly navigate your data for those key indicators.
With the right data set being collected, you then should review your data on a regular basis. Depending on your business need, you may not need to review your data daily but it is important to establish a regular frequency that works for you. The key is spending enough time with your data to understand what is normal in terms of post volumes and the type of content being collected so that you can speak to the day-to-day conversations as well as understand anomalies that may help you uncover new trends and emerging issues.
Your regular data monitoring should include the following:
1) Post titles: Reading and understanding the post titles is a quick way to see what people are talking about and spot trends. If when reading the post titles you see themes developing in what people are talking about or commenting on, this can indicate something you will want to look into further. From here, dive in and regularly read some of the posts. This will provide you with verbatim examples as well as a comfort level with how authors are discussing your brand online.
2) Overall post volumes: Regularly monitor post volumes. Understanding the trends in post volumes (higher on weekends, lower on Sundays, etc) will help you better grasp the authors’ habits when discussing your subject area. This will also alert you to any fluctuations as both increases and decreases can provide you insight into what is going on around your brand or project.
3) Use technology: Where available, RSS feeds and alerts will provide you with a convenient way to stay current. The key is to structure your feeds and alerts so that the information being sent provides you a summary of data activity over that day or period of time. Again, anytime you see trends in subject matter or post volume, you can look into it further.
It can be an overwhelming task when you are faced with a mountain of data about your brand, but not all of it is going to be important to you. Committing yourself to regularly reviewing your data at a high level and staying focused on your business goals will allow you to listen smarter to Social Intelligence data and help you move from a collection of posts to understanding trends and developing insights.