How To Avoid Data Overload

Wednesday April 11, 2012

Data Overlaod

Anyone that has dipped a toe into social media monitoring will agree that the amount of data it presents can be overwhelming, with most of what emerges of little relevance to your business.

One way to tackle this is to make sure that the data you’re pulling in is relevant.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all method to getting this right. The process is cyclical, and your objectives and approach must be refined on a regular basis.

However, the five tips below should help you to organise and refine your social listening plans to avoid falling into the trap of measuring what you don’t need, and most importantly, ensure that those lovely analysts are leaving the office at a sensible time.

Image from the very interesting Vizcraft

1. Set clear objectives

Obvious, but it all comes down to this: It is important to set clear objectives for your monitoring strategy, and stick to them. This means you know what you’re looking for in the first place. For example, are you monitoring in order to improve customer service? Drive advocacy? Increase direct sales?

Include key members of the wider organisation when setting objectives. This ensures that your listening strategy benefits the entire organisation.

2. Pick relevant search terms

If you get this right first time, get in touch and I’ll buy you a beer. Getting the most effective keywords is a trial and error process.

Simply searching for your brand name is likely to swamp you with lots of irrelevant data (can you imagine the poor analysts at Orange searching for the first time?), so make sure you try different variations till you get the data that helps meet your objectives.

Remember, you must consistently refine your keywords as your strategy evolves.

3. Get the right tool

The social listening market is saturated, with thousands of paid for and free listening tools that offer a range of features. Some are better at pulling data from different platforms; some allow you to respond to users directly from the dashboard (good if one of your objectives is customer service) and some have customisable dashboards that are great for content curation.

Don’t let the shiny dashboards drag you in. Demo different products and compare the results.

4. Resource Properly

Get the right people listening and make sure they are monitoring the correct data. It’s counterproductive to have several parts of the business listening to the same conversation.

Likewise, it is also counterproductive to have one area of the business monitoring all the data.

Remember to share intelligence throughout your business. If someone monitoring customer service discussion discovers an awesome product development suggestion, ensure that the staff member is adequately trained to recognise this and passes it on to the correct department.

5. Monitor the relevant platforms

You need to understand the context of what people are saying and where they are saying it.

Different segments may be more active on different platforms, so make sure you understand where they are. This will help in times of crisis, as you can easily uncover the signal and not get lost in the noise. Often, it could only be a small segment of the entire market reacting negatively to an issue or campaign. Different segments may act as indicators of future trends or problems, wider public opinion or may be bigger advocates for your brand. Understanding these give you an edge.

6. Go back to point 1 and start again

This isn’t a one-off exercise. Objectives, influencers, resources, tools and terms need to be continually reviewed and optimised either continually or very regularly. Put this process in place and build it in to your strategy.

I hope this blog post has helped you to see the light at the end of the data tunnel and begin to put measures in place to ensure you are listening effectively.

Making sure that the majority of data you receive is relevant won’t happen overnight, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get it right first time. Effective social listening is a learning process.

From Insight Executive John Paul Fox @johnpaulfox #YomegoSocial

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