Making the Most of Your Data

Dear Corporate Baby Boomers: crank-up your hearing aids and accept social technologies or get out of the way. Actionable insights are just waiting to be mined in these increasingly vocal conversations. There’s no more hiding and running away will only make things worse. People will find you and people will talk about you. How could you not want to hear what they have to say and make the most out of all the available data?

There has certainly been a noticeable paradigm shift in 2010 to a much broader acceptance of social media in the corporate suites. However, because of its unpredictable nature and lightning speed, showing social media’s direct linkage to the bottom line (ROI) can be challenging and can make receiving an adequate budget rather tricky.

Even with solid buy-in from above, most organizations fail to take their social media efforts to the next level. This is usually because they don’t make the most out of all the available data sources. They do an average job at maintaining their strategic objectives individually, but are unable to fuse together the right elements to uncover the hidden insights. The most valuable intelligence comes when you aggregate all data types, not just the unsolicited/unstructured social media segment by itself (see image below for more details).

Trying to manage all of these fragmented channels manually is a losing battle. There are plenty of FREE monitoring tools out there to help aggregate these data sources in a timely fashion, but they are extremely limited and 90% useless. Paid offerings significantly vary in both functionality and price. However, the majority of the players in this concentrated market fail to do much more than provide buzz and mentions about the keywords you input. They also like to regurgitate the universal analytics provided to you by your major social networks as if they are doing you a favor.

The better solutions will allow you to integrate your social media, CRM, and other proprietary data sources. They will probably overwhelm you with fancy word cloud visualizations and tell you that they have the most accurate sentiment analysis engine. They may even be able to help you identify influencers and generate some leads. However, they lack the ability to determine actual meaning from the data and leave it all on you to synthesize. They are incapable of clearly identifying relevant and truly actionable insights aligned with your specific goals and objectives.

Uncovering this deeper meaning is by no means an easy task and requires some serious technology to pull it off well. As linguistics and semantics are united with areas such as machine learning and decision engineering, the data begins to move beyond its previous limitations and closer to its full potential.

There are plenty of issues to address with monitoring tools, but attempting to do without any at all indicates that you have given up entirely on your social media efforts. Be sure to find the solution that best fits your specific needs. Know exactly what you are paying for and don’t fall victim to false claims.

About kramereric

Serial Entrepreneur, Digital Enthusiast, Strategic Consultant, @erkramer
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