Anatomy of Social Analytics

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It isnít easy to find the posts in the social media ocean that reveal whoís talking about your product or service, what theyíre saying, and their intentions. You can use search to ask a question, count the responses, and make inferences from whatís said, which may be useful. Often though, this is a self-fulfilling exercise. You only hear what you expect to hear because of how youíve framed the questions.

At Networked Insights we take a more illuminating approach by discovering information, attitudes and trends in conversations that are unfolding naturally. Using three analytical techniques ñ full-text search, clustering and classification ñ we can help you uncover who is interested in buying your product or service, and who is in a state of mind that could be converted into purchase. Read how our approach can discover hot, relevant topics in social posts and help you align your media strategy to maximize paid, earned and owned spends.

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Anatomy of Social Analytics

  1. 1. The Anatomyof Social AnalyticsA look behind the curtain at Networked Insights
  2. 2. The Anatomy of Social Analytics A look behind the curtain at Networked Insights In “The Wizard of Oz,” when Toto tugged at the curtain, Dorothy and friends were disappointed to learn that the Wizard was merely a man — the rest was an illusion. When we open the curtain at Networked Insights, clients are pleasantly surprised. Not only are there real people, but they’re using very sophisticated analytical techniques to reveal insights into social media data that were Three things we do unimaginable even two or three years ago. Full-text search Searching the ocean of social media data to find relevant Many others do as well — we just posts isn’t easy. It’s a real challenge to unearth the ones add a twist that others don’t. that reveal who’s talking about your product or service, what they’re saying, and where their intentions are. Clustering Few others do, but which we take With this in mind, it’s useful to think of search as a giant to an entirely new level funnel. You ask a question and start counting responses. Classification You then make inferences, which may be useful, based on Few others do right now, and the information you obtain. Often, though, the exercise is which gives our clients unheard- of self-fulfilling. You only hear what you expect to hear from insight into social media data a search because of how you’ve framed the questions. Also, the process is focused on the top results — with each page of results (and there are often hundreds if not thousands of pages), the quality deteriorates. Networked Insights takes a very different approach to this process — and dramatically extends the process — by discovering information, attitudes and trends in conver- sations that are unfolding naturally. In fact, we do three things right now (and soon a fourth) that have significantly advanced the practice of social media analysis: Full-text search, which many others do, as well — we just add a twist that others don’t. Clustering, which a few others do, but which we take to an entirely new level. Classification, which few others do right now, and which gives our clients unheard-of insight into social media data.© 2011, Networked Insights, Inc. All rights reserved. 2
  3. 3. Using clustering and classification techniques along with search, our approach can find patterns in the data that position our clients where those conversations are hap- pening. They can then set a baseline for measuring their advertising campaigns and maximizing their paid, earned and owned media spends. Read on to learn more about what goes on behind the curtain at Networked Insights and how it can benefit you. Tailoring full-text search Tailoring full-text search Target Networked Insights is among many companies that use Where do you buy them “full-text search” to find and count posts across social Target, we use their brand. If I’m too lazy to run to a different store though. media and other unstructured data from the Internet. Source: baby-gaga.com/Parents The process, known as Boolean search, basically involves entering a Google-like query and getting results. Boolean Favorite iPhone apps??? I love my grocery shopping list and search allows you to look for combinations of words that Target app...oh and my hautelook app :) may not necessarily be connected. Source: cafemom.com/Newcomers Fun things to do... Networked Insights’ Boolean search approach uses a Mine loves the Children’s museum and dataset focused on social media. It contains fields that nor- Target (lol), pet stores and aquariums... malize data into different dimensions, such as a domain, Source: cafemom.com/Newcomers an author or a subject. An audience filter then focuses the searches into the right areas. For example, a search for Networked Insights’ Boolean search approach uses a dataset focused on Target, the retail store chain, is pre-filtered to focus on social media. Target, the retail store consumer purchasing. This eliminates results for such chain, is pre-filtered to focus on con- topics as target practice or Human Target, the TV series. sumer purchasing. This eliminates re- sults for such topics as target practice Clustering or Human Target, the TV series. Search is one of two ways you can retrieve information. As discussed, search can provide information you seek, but the questions used to frame the search can bias the results. An alternative to search is to use clustering, which is a true discovery approach. Simply stated: with clustering, you get back what the data tells you rather than what you’re asking for. We perform clustering using Networked Solutions’ proprietary Topic Discovery Engine (TDE), a semantic analysis system finely tuned to discover and label topics in social media posts.© 2011, Networked Insights, Inc. All rights reserved. 3
  4. 4. The TDE has no bias or preconceived notion of what it will find. The engine runs and identifies a primary concept, and then breaks that into sub-concepts. This type of discovery lessens the influence of anyone’s bias in the process. The TDE uses an advanced form of semantic analysis to organize topics it discovers into a hierarchy of concepts, which we call “topic trees.” From a main topic, the TDE drills down into subtopics (Figure 1). The size of each orange node in Figure 1 represents the volume of conver- sation around each subtopic. Starbucks favorite drink Extra hot coffee Rewards Frappuccino The TDE enables you to look at topics that bubble up, and then cluster them naturally. For example, data that Via Pike Place venti Gold card free drink birthday bagged beans Tumblers iced, mocha love, love flavors organic, responsibility double mocha simply mentions Starbucks can be analyzed for discussions around different drinks and their popularity. Extra-hot coffee or caramel lattes might emerge as more important than gingerbread lattes. Figure 1 This is a powerful part of the process, because the labels assigned to the cluster are highly descriptive and together The TDE enables you to look at topics that create a “topic cloud.” Along with being able to click on bubble up, and then cluster them naturally. one of the topics and see the verbatim discussions around For example, data that simply mentions it, the labels themselves provide a good understanding of Starbucks can be analyzed for discussions what someone is looking at. The result is less verbatim around different drinks and their popularity. reading and more discovery. Someone can look at a topic tree, understand what’s being said and drill down into topics of interest. Once the topics have been discovered through clustering, each one can be modeled across the data, and more posts can be found that align with it. Networked Insights’ ability to uncover topics of interest is enhanced by historical data on social media activity that we have amassed. (See our Semantic vs Sentiment Report) Classification At a high level, classification is the process of separating data into predefined categories. Classification uses the same technology and artifacts as clustering.© 2011, Networked Insights, Inc. All rights reserved. 4
  5. 5. However, with classification we direct the clustering process by pre-assigning a label and instructing the TDE to find that pattern among social media conversations. This approach enables us to: • Use labels from “discovered clusters” — i.e., clusters of conversations that naturally bubble up during the Awareness clustering process — to refine our analysis and search Purchase out more detailed or specific patterns in the data. • Identify more “nuanced” topics within the data — Consideration i.e., topics that don’t occur in conversations at a high enough volume to naturally bubble to the surface through clustering — by creating a category “classifier” upfront that directs the clustering process. For example, the different stages of purchasing — awareness, consideration and purchase — could be established as categories (Figure 2). To create classifiers capable of identifying posts that belong to these catego- ries, we start by finding examples of conversations where people are in those states. They may not be the absolute Figure 2 right conversations, but that’s all right. Establishing categories through The conversations are then passed through a panel of classification Networked Insights reviewers who confirm the state of The different stages of purchasing — the data. These people essentially provide the “artificial awareness, consideration and purchase — intelligence.” Humans physically look at the posts or could be established as categories. To create classifiers capable of identifying conversations and say this person is in the awareness posts that belong to these categories, we phase, that person is ready to buy and so on. start by finding examples of conversations where people are in those states. Ultimately, though, technology, rather than people, does the bulk of the work. Once enough examples of each of the three stages are identified, machine learning can be used to model those conversations. That model then runs across millions of posts, classifying each into one of the three target categories or a fourth “unrelated” category. In this way, we discover many more relevant conversations.© 2011, Networked Insights, Inc. All rights reserved. 5
  6. 6. Search, clustering and classification can be used together. Search and clustering can identify all the topics of interest, then classification can refine the analysis within the resulting clusters, such as positive, negative and neutral sentiment. More powerful tools in the future Networked Insights’ revolutionary approach to topic discovery can uncover who is interested in purchasing your product or service, as well as who is in a state of mind that could be converted into purchase. In the near future, we’ll be able to conduct regression analysis on the Search, clustering and classification 15 months of data we have gathered and use it to predict can be used together. Search and likely future events and activities – adding a fourth clustering can identify all the topics capability to the three things we do very well today of interest, then classification can behind the curtain at Networked Insights. refine the analysis within the resulting clusters, such as positive, negative and neutral sentiment. Questions about this report? Want a free consultation on how social data can improve your media planning Phone: 608.237.1867 and other marketing? Contact us. Web: www.networkedinsights.com Email: info@networkedinsights.com Networked Insights was founded in 2006 by industry leaders and seasoned entrepreneurs in the fields of social media and customer intelligence. Headquarters are in Madison, WI, with offices in New York and Chicago.© 2011, Networked Insights, Inc. All rights reserved. 6

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