Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Advantage of Social Analytics

What is social analytics? It is an analysis of the tweets, blogs and other postings on the social web, with a focus on a particular subject area. According to Jared Feldman, president of Mashwork, a leading social analytics firm, every second there are 4,630 tweets. Further, Tumblr has three times the traffic of The New York Times and CNN. The examples tell us the noise ratio is huge, and so is the number of subjects that people are conversing about.

"We derive actual meaning from the conversation and help clients make sense of it, " Feldman advised. "Now that stakeholders can talk back, monologue has changed to dialogue. We need to measure and curate that. We also can determine who is influencing the conversation, so communicators can reach such targets with their clients' messages. ... for example, for HBO, it's what people think about their show. For Gatorade, it's what teen athletes talk about."

This does not negate the importance of traditional research, where focus groups give you a private view on possibly sensitive topics or a questionnaire is filled out by 500 people in a designated age group or profession. No, social intelligence enables us to get a very public view of people speaking, unprompted, from the heart, about how they really feel on a range of subjects.

And everything is measurable. You can segment people by their emotions and attitudes, based on what they are saying. You can establish a baseline of context from which you can draw insights historically and in real-time (very useful in a crisis situation). For one client in a crisis, Mashwork tracked confusion, benchmarked it and then watched the confusion decrease over the next two weeks.

What you can track in social responds to and informs public relations issues, as noted below.

SOCIAL                      PR ISSUES
Sentiment       [        Perception
Trends            [        Top-of-Mind
Competitors    [        Context
Influencers      [        Reach
Personas         [        Segmentation

One of the most valuable things that social analytics can do is enable course correction. To achieve that with traditional tools with the same speed is impossible. While there are many traditional tools that get topline research results, few can go as deep as a social analytics firm with proprietary tools.

Nevertheless, the acceptance of social media varies from progressive in the consumer products area to more deliberate in the B2B sectors. So, how do you convince clients who are skeptical about the value of social media to use social analytics? Speak to them in their own language. Don't talk about the dashboard; talk about awareness. Make the key performance indicators look like what they are already comfortable with.

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