Monitoring social media, beyond lurking to data mining
This was my first stop on a morning of session-hopping so I should say that I only stayed for the first section of this, but I think I heard most of Zena Applebaum’s presentation.
The focus of Zena’s talk was how to turn the noise of social media into action, and turn big data into competitive intelligence data points. She observed that people using social media at work will share information differently when communicating internally and externally (and are, in fact, often more open to external audiences).
First you need to understand your organisation’s key intelligence topics – those of greatest significance to your senior executives & their business plan. Information-gathering interviews may be necessary, but these are likely to fall under headings like:
– info pertaining to strategic decisions and actions
– early-warning signs
– key market players (competitors, regulators, suppliers, etc)
Then consider the platforms available. In order to work out your strategy you need to spend time monitoring your target platform for things like tone, content, frequency of posting, trending topics and sentiment. Reverse-engineer your info-gathering plan – where will people be posting the information you are looking for? What platforms do people in your industry frequent, or discuss? (E.g. law firms only tend to use Facebook to reach out to students, so that’s probably the wrong place to look for other things.)
Start small, be specific and ethical.
Has 2 different uses, workwise. People post as:
1. Official business
PR, marketing, customer service, recruiting
Employees, customers, experts
Create RSS feeds for twitter searches using search.twitter.com/advanced (nb. the app version is different to twitter.com)
Use programs like listorious, twellow, tweet tunnel (for deleted tweets)
Follow company and industry groups for active discussions. Company profiles can be very fruitful, although they only tend to record positive things.
Monitoring company pages and capturing content regularly can enable you to follow their stats (e.g. changing numbers of employees) over time. BUT do not record such data just because you can – it’s a waste of time unless you’re actually going to do something with it.
LinkedIn can also be useful for monitoring which areas a company is recruiting in, which can be meaningful.
You can change settings so your searching is anonymous.
Q&A site. Based on real identities so you can assess respondents’ expertise, and sometimes this is industry- or even company-specific.
As a fairly prolific user of social media I was surprised that it hadn’t really occurred to me that you could use it for this kind of searching and data collection. I’m currently thinking about a twitter strategy for one of the places where I volunteer, so Zena’s suggestions for that platform are particularly well timed and I shall be looking into them further.
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