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Social Media–What Do I Do With All This Data?

October 25, 2010

One of the questions people ask in our initial social media strategy sessions is “How will I know if I’m doing it right?” The flip answer is something like “your metrics will show you” or “you’ll be the most popular man in the universe”. Of course it’s not really that simple and that leads to the inevitable and important metrics discussion.

social media data streamWhat are you going to measure to decide if your goals are met? Have you taken baseline measurements of those factors? “Who’s going to do the measuring” and “Is there an app for that?”

Rather than go into yet another social media metrics debate let’s pretend for the sake of argument that you’ve already set up one or two social listening tools. Maybe Radian6, SM2, Trackur or one of these social media listening tools I mention when I give talks on social media.

Great, cool, you’re on the right track. For a while you’re addicted to watching who re-tweets you, mentions your brand on their blog or says something about you on a Facebook page. Eventually–usually in less than a month–this gets boring. You scan the alerts for something inflammatory but mostly they get filtered into an email box that gets rarely opened and often deleted.

You’re missing a lot of opportunities here, and if you say in 3 months that “social media just doesn’t work for us” and I find out that you pretty much never follow up on the alerts, then shame on you! I know it’s hard work to keep up on all of this. I know that it gets old and you’ve got better things to do with your time. Then again maybe you would actually do it if I could show you why you should care. So here are some things to look for in those social media reports you’ve got in your in-box.

Was there a big spike of RT’s on a particular post and virtually none on another about a similar topic? Why was that? Identifying phrasing and keyword response can tell you a lot about how your messaging is working and your target market too.

Who are your biggest supporters? The ones who talk about you, your cause, your brand the most often? When you see the same name come up over and over in your reports find a way to return the favor and support them back. Say thank you.

What are the most used words or phrases used within your network? This is a good way to identify trends or product perception so you can take action to correct misconceptions or adjust your phrasing to fit the market’s vocabulary.

Look at all of your messaging over a period of time using something like Wordle to show you what words you’re using the most. Is the overall perception positive? Negative? You might be surprised to see what your aggregated message looks like. Those catch-phrases pop out like a sore thumb.

Look for the trends and swarms of discussion. If you see people rallying around a cause or topic see how you can join in. Often these are around a news item or a conference. Watch so you can understand what makes your network tick and how they are moved to action. Also watch to see who is driving these conversations.

Speaking of those swarms of discussion, if they’re talking about a problem, could they be describing your next product?

Find influencers. Who is getting shared over and over and over again? Are they writing content relevant to you and your brand? Find a way to engage them. Ask them to guest post or share heir posts within your network. Say thank you.

Notice that when you look at a larger data set the influencers will be different. In a small set a big fish makes a bigger splash while a regular positive supporter may make more long-term impact in a larger pool of data.

Different networks will likely have different influencers. Sometimes finding a tiny nice influencer with a rabid following can have tremendous impact.

Pay special attention to negative sentiment. If your reporting tool shows relative sentiment seek out the negatives and see if there is something you need to deal with. Remember an opposing viewpoint merely gives you an opportunity to start a conversation. Pay attention to who is listening to the negative comment. Is it generating buzz or

Look at how people are talking about you overall. There might be a good story there. Is your phrasing and vocabulary hitting the mark? Sometimes the best marketing copy you could ever write comes right from your target market. How do they describe you to their friends?

Set up a separate report for your competitors. Watch to see where crossover occurs. What social sites are they strong in? Which are weaker spots where you could carry the conversation?

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