By Murray Newlands on July 2nd, 2012 | 26864Comment on this postWhy+does+quantitative+analysis+matter%2C+and+what+role+does+social+media+monitoring+play%3F2012-07-02+20%3A10%3A33Murray+Newlandshttp%3A%2F%2Fsmartblogs.com%2F%3Fp%3D26864
Anybody can do a Twitter search for a hashtag or a keyword and get a “feel” for the mood of a conversation. But these feelings aren’t scientific — and often aren’t accurate. We look at a few tweets, and usually one or two stick in our minds, and so we leap to conclusions without enough hard evidence. It’s in our nature.
Another problem with this kind of spot-check analysis is that someone might see only the most recent posts and think they are representative of an entire conversation. Maybe six of the 10 most recent posts are negative, and the person concludes that the feeling is “pretty bad,” but that batch might not reflect the tone of the majority of posts. Unfortunately, our time is limited, so it is almost impossible to accurately analyze every tweet using the same methodology if you have to read every one yourself.
Analyze, analyze, analyze
Social media monitoring tools let you see exactly how many times people mention your search terms across the Internet and social media and also show what these mentions mean. Are people praising you, or are they angry at you? Are you being talked about on Twitter or on Facebook? Are posts negative or positive? Most tools provide powerful graphs and charts that can help you wrap your head around what you’re using, but these graphs don’t show the entire picture. Some social media monitoring tools also let you export data to Microsoft Excel, where you can use tables to your heart’s content to figure out what people are really saying on social media.
Rethink what you’re analyzing
Unfortunately, finding which keywords to watch on social media is not as straightforward as it is in simpler tools such as Google Alerts. Picking and setting up alerts with the right keywords is important because it can be difficult to analyze data that are too broad. Data that are too narrow will not be able to tell you much of anything, and you will miss things that are important.
Apply what you learn
Data provided by social media monitoring tools are critical to finding out what people are actually saying about you, but it’s up to you to apply it to campaigns and outreach efforts. Let’s say you are testing two products and want to know which one people like more. At a basic level, you could do a binary sentiment analysis for each product and see which one comes out more positively, then sell only that product. But be careful: It’s possible that people are talking about an attribute of the less-popular product with more positivity than that same attribute of the more-popular product. Maybe you make two kinds of cars, and the more-popular one is better in every way, except that the less-popular car has amazingly comfortable seats.
Use your data to make decisions
Then you can use this data to make a decision: Should you try combining the more-popular model with the less-popular model’s seats? Social media monitoring tools provide you with information to measure the public’s opinion so you can make accurate decisions backed by statistics. Measuring social media by reading a few tweets is like sticking your finger in the air and determining how fast the wind is blowing. This gives you a general idea of which way and how fast the wind is blowing where you’re standing, but it misses how the wind can be blowing nearby. Using social media monitoring tools is like measuring wind speed with tools and instruments placed throughout a city: You get accurate measurements over a wide area, and you know exactly how fast and in what direction the wind — or tweets — are going.
Want to dive deeper into the world of social media for business? This post was written by Murray Newlands, author of the white paper “Learn Social Media Monitoring in Fifteen Minutes.” Download the white paper for free!
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