I’m Listening, Are You?

Lately I’ve been feeling a lot like Frasier, that curmudgeonly sitcom psychiatrist who would always start his radio show with: “I’m listening.” Instead of patients, though, I’ve been eavesdropping on people talking across the social Web — and trying to make sense of their conversations for our clients.

Social media analytics of “big data,” as it’s called, is the elephant in the boardroom of many big brands today because it’s such a daunting task.  It’s kind of like attending a million focus groups in five minutes and trying to boil down all of those opinions into a cohesive marketing or PR strategy.

Sure, there are plenty of tools out there to help you listen (Sysomos, Radian 6, Alterian, BuzzMetrics, etc.) and synthesize the data into nifty charts and graphs. But successful listening really requires a sound analytical plan — along with a savvy analyst crunching the data and monitoring the trends  — to make the insights sing.

The point of social media analytics, after all, is to understand what’s being said about your brands and leverage that information to meet your business objectives, be it more sales, enhanced customer communication, better brand reputation, or greater customer loyalty.

It’s all part of the social CRM wave. I listen to what consumers are saying on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and so forth so I can better understand their needs. Then I can improve my products, create cross-selling opportunities, and compete and communicate more effectively.

So what’s the best way to analyze the millions of social conversations around your brands to get at these golden data nuggets? Here’s a suggestion:

Listen Daily: Create a search agent that scours the social Web and gathers keywords being said about your brands. Respond quickly to negative comments and foster relationships with those who speak highly about your brand.

Measure Monthly: Establish social media KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), such as brand mentions and consumer engagement indices. Track trends to uncover changes in consumer attitudes towards your brand and how effectively you are reaching them in the social space.

Monitor Quarterly: Take a giant social media dipstick every three months that looks at your brand share of voice, key influencers talking about you, and overall brand sentiment compared to your competitors.

Later on you might consider doing some advanced analysis like correlating what’s being said in social media to your sales data or Web site traffic.

We’d like to hear about what you’re doing to analyze social media data. Our ears are wide open.

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