How to Contextualize Data for Meaningful Insights


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This article gives analysts some tips on how to formulate meaningful insights derived from careful planning, organizing, and contextualizing of available data from various social media channels.

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How to Contextualize Data for Meaningful Insights

  1. 1. Social Media Analytics: Contextualizing Data for Meaningful Insights Virginia B. Bautista, Quality Control (QC) Team Lead iSentia Brandtology February 2014
  2. 2. Figure 2 Providing online intelligence is a serious business. Analysts constantly deal with tons of unstructured data waiting to be discovered, interpreted and communicated. At first glance, the contents of social media conversations seem nothing new – similar types of voices surface on a daily basis: complaining, complimenting, announcing, liking, sharing, asking, seeking advice, or simply commenting for the sake of commenting. Many times, social media chatter seems more like noise than conversation, and hence, does not warrant any attention. The challenge for analysts is how to avoid simply dumping data on PowerPoint slides. How can analysts translate a huge amount of data to actionable insights? How should they frame stories to guarantee that companies would make logical decisions using online intelligence? The secret is with the context, and with big data, context is big deal. This article gives analysts some tips on how to formulate meaningful insights derived from careful planning, organizing, and contextualizing of available data from various social media channels. How to Contextualize Data for Meaningful Insights Making Relevant Comparisons The amount of buzz about a brand will not make much sense without relevant comparisons. For example, if Brand A garners 1,758 buzz on December, what does that mean? Its significance can only be explained with proper comparisons, so we also look at Brand A’s Share of Buzz (SOB) compared with its competitors and compared against the entire industry. If the closest competitor has about 4,000 buzz, then Brand A is quite behind (Fig 1). If the industry buzz is more than 20,000, then Brand A is nowhere in consumers’ minds (Fig 1 and 2). In short, the number of buzz alone, without an analysis of the brand’s competitive and industry positioning, does not yield anything meaningful. Figure 1
  3. 3. Figure 4 Figure 3 Figure 5 Analyzing Trend Certainly, discovering consumer insights for the current month is good (Fig 3). Looking, however, at top conversation themes about a brand or industry throughout the last 3 to 6 months or from the previous year to date is a smart move (Fig 4). Through month-on- month, year-over-year or year-to-date analysis, analysts can help companies predict the next big thing in the industry. By understanding the key conversations in the past and the current events that trigger buzz, companies are certain to make informed decisions for the future. Correlating Key Social Metrics Having the largest SOB against industry competitors is not a reason for a company to automatically rejoice. For proper context, Social Buzz could be correlated with Social Sentiment and Social Engagement. The most favorable market position would be to have the largest SOB, and the highest net sentiment (Figure 5). A lot of netizens talking about a brand could be an indication of the need for prompt action if sentiments are negative. Equally important is the engagement vis-à-vis buzz. Is the buzz concentrated among few voices? How many people like, share or comment on Brand A’s social media posts? Which particular posts across brands’ social assets resonate the most with fans or followers?
  4. 4. Figure 6 Analysts should be able to identify the top themes, the key positive and negative sentiment drivers, especially those that need Brand A’s attention, and the type of posts that are likely to lead to high engagement. The findings may not highlight causal effect, but correlational relationships between and among buzz, sentiments and engagement could be established for deep dive analysis. Analyzing Channels At times, what netizens say is as important as where they share their views. Instead of simply finding out the top channels where Brand A is mentioned, analysts should contextualize by looking at how social media conversations on particular channels start, and how other netizens react to the points raised by the thread starter. Examining and comparing top channels across competitors and in the industry could also bring new perspectives. For example, is Brand A discussed in major industry channels where most netizens exchange their views on top brands and issues? In channels where netizens compare and contrast brands, insights could also be extracted based on co- mentions and frequently cited attributes within the industry (Fig 7). Discovering Patterns in Social Asset Performance Aside from listening to social media conversations, analysts also have to be adept in observing how brands and their competitors make use of their social assets, e.g. on Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo, etc. Among the aspects that could be unveiled include: Figure 7 Figure 8
  5. 5. Figure 9 Figure 10 Figure 11 How does Brand A fare compared with its competitors in terms of fan size and growth? Which Facebook posts are likely to gain high social engagement? (Fig 8) At what time do Brand A and its competitors post updates on its social assets? At what time are the netizens most likely to comment on or retweet the brands’ posts? (Fig 9 and 10) How often and how soon do Brand A and its competitors respond to consumers’ posts/inquiries on its own social assets? (Fig 11) What is Brand A’s shelf life and half-life? The insights to these questions could help companies make informed decisions on the best time to post on their social assets, on how often to post updates, and on how soon to respond to consumers’ queries, etc. Without knowledge on how best to use social assets, getting the message across would seem impossible. Identifying Key Opinion Leaders or Influencers In many instances, the choice of comments or insights to highlight depends not only on the relevance of posts, but also on the sources of buzz. Is the netizen a key opinion leader (KOL) or influencer in the industry? How does that KOL impact engagement rate of Brand A’s posts? Identifying KOLs provides companies a basis in deciding whether to engage KOLs or not, for what purpose, and how it could be effectively done.
  6. 6. Decoding Native Language Netizens do talk to each other using their mother tongue. Extracting insights without decoding native languages including local jargons, can lead to misleading findings. Analysts are ideally native speakers of a particular language who can read between and beyond words and can make sense on whether the netizens are being sarcastic in their posts, or if they are sincere. With language context, companies are assured that analysts consider critical factors distinct to a language, e.g. local expressions and tones in the formulation of insights. Adding Business Sense With so many conversations going on in real time across various social media channels, choosing the right insights to highlight is crucial. Analysts have to be aware that insights are meant to be utilized in businesses’ success in the industry. With clear understanding of how businesses work and how various industries operate, combined with knowledge in related fields like marketing, business development, branding, public relations (PR), advertising, public governance, and customer service management (CRM), analysts could add business sense in how they collect essential information to translate to actionable insights. By wearing a ‘business hat’, distinguishing useful insights from mere noise could be less tricky. Zooming in on Demographics and Psychographics For insights to be utilized effectively for well-targeted marketing efforts, zooming in on demographics or psychographics vis-à-vis key metrics like buzz and sentiments is a useful strategy. Information on netizens’ demographics including age, gender, location, etc., and psychographic descriptions including values, attitudes and behaviour can provide a lot of opportunities to target the right market segment. ###