Do you feel like you are getting all the value you could from your social or other digital data?

If you’re reading this, then I’d be willing to guess NO but I’ll also bet you know that there is more value you can extract, and you’re motivated to fit out how.

When I launched my first company the number one question I was always asked was about my methodologies to analyse social data.  These questions were ones I could not always answer but I’m changing that with this new venture.

My commitment to my readers and clients is to bring you the methodologies, systems, processes, frameworks and behavioural hacks that I’ve used to find what’s driving behaviour, find new opportunities for engagement, and measure success.

The Start of a Beautiful (If Not, Honest) Relationship

To cement our relationship, we first need to be a little honest and this may get a bit uncomfortable for a while.  Over the years I’ve found four uncomfortable truths about analysing social data and to make my systems and processes work for you, you need to know them and be all in to get the most value from the way I do things.

If you’re still with me at the end of this post, then this is the place for you to be.  If you’re not in agreement, then I’m probably not for you and there will be other places online where you’ll get more value.

I appreciate that everyone here has limited time (and attention span) and I’m committed to providing value to my audience so I need to be honest with myself and with you.  I’m not for everyone but for those that are willing to approach the data and insight challenges a little differently (perhaps unorthodox to some) will get value here.  With the way that I like to engage my community you’ll also get to voice the topics that you want to hear more about.

Let’s get started…

Four Honest but Seemingly Uncomfortable Truths

Over the years, I’ve picked up a few insights that most people find uncomfortable and some simply don’t agree with but I personally think we need to address them to get the social and digital insights industry to where it needs to be.

#1 Social Data is not About Numbers

This is a biggie – social data is not about numbers.

I’ve always said that social data is qualitative data but on a quantitative scale, and I know its good to know the numbers but that is not where we should stop.  It seems a little unrealistic to be able to understand, measure and glean insight from social media, a medium that is driven by words, feelings, behaviours and emotions with numbers.  How can you boil down insight from all that emotion into a simple number?

Yes, I know you need to be able to measure how many people have engaged with your content but that’s not where you should stop. It’s nice to know the volume of your brand buzz but again that’s not where you should stop.  At the end of the day we all want to increase our engagement, our buzz and conversion our rates, the truth is that measuring numbers isn’t going to get us there.

The millions of social conversations, interactions and engagement that happen every day contain hidden insight.  This insight tells us who our audience is, how to speak to them, how to engage with them, what makes our brands special, and gives us upcoming warning about new trends, opportunities and threats.

The trick is uncovering this insight and having the confidence to put it into action.  What you’ll learn here is:

  • New ways to interpret the numbers to understand behaviour
  • New ways to analyse social data that transcends numbers
  • How to integrate other data sources to your social data
  • New ways to create digital data reports that align with business objectives

#2 Social Analytics Tools Don’t Provide Insight

There is a multi-million (verging on billion) dollar industry that has a sole purpose to analyse and extract intelligence from social media conversations.  As much as I love social analysis tools, and I do love them but they don’t give you everything you need to gain insight from social media.

There are other ways of gaining insight from social media but if we think about the mass market, social analytics tools have been developed for those of us who don’t have expert skills in analytics.  We are going to cover social tools here because let’s face it we all use them.

Some social tools are better than others and some do unexpected analysis that the tools themselves don’t shout about. But we need to face one simple fact, it is silly to think you can push a button and you’re going to get actionable intelligence.

Social tools are great at allowing you to collect and collate all the publically available content about your brand, customers or other topics of conversation into one place.  They even give you a dashboard with automated analytics but if this is what you are using in your analytics and insight reports you’ll be sad to know that you’re not reporting insight.

Most of the social tools on the market have been built for marketers, marketers like numbers, they always have.  These tools are there to show them what they want to know not what they should know.  We are in a difficult time, a time between the desire to hang onto old metrics and a need to explore a new way of doing things.

There is tension but we need to be confident that there is another way of approaching analysis that fits better with the changing behaviours around us, not just the metrics we are comfortable with.  What you’ll learn here is:

  • How to choose the right social tool for the job your trying to do
  • How to hack social tools to get more people driven insights
  • My exact systems and processes to segment and analyse social data

#3 You Need Human Vision to Interpret Social Data

So, we’ve covered that numbers don’t make up the most valuable parts of social insights and that clicking a button on a social tool isn’t going to give you the insight that you are looking for.  You’re probably thinking, so what’s the solution?

You need human insight to interpret the data points analysed in social tools in order to develop actionable insights.  I’ve never found a tool that provides actionable insight, it means that you not only need someone to conduct the analysis but also someone to interpret the output.

I was recently playing around with IBM Watson personality analysis and I found that while the summary of the insight is better than I’ve seen from other tools, you still need to un-pick it to get actionable intelligence.  The image below is the output from analysis on 2,000 tweets from Donald Trump.


Sample IBM Watson Insights


The insight is good and goes into nice detail about personal motivations but you still need someone to interpret how this insight is meaningful and how you can use it to target and refine your propositions.  There is no point in collecting insight if you are not going to action it!

I was using another social tool, one that specialised in emotional analysis.  I had a call with the tools creators and they showed me around and took me through the output.  I’m now undergoing a little training with them to help me better interpret the output of their tool. I know the data is valuable but its been presented in a way that takes a lot of effort to interpret.

I’ve found that you need two types of people in social data analysis, one to run the analysis and the other to interpret but I’ll give you some hacks to show you how I approach this potential problem.  You’ll also learn:

  • The systems to approach interpretation of social data
  • How to think beyond the data points to get insight that has business value
  • How to interpret social tool outputs to provide actionable business intelligence
  • My exact systems and processes that I use to interpret social analysis outputs

#4 The Best Way to Interpret Social Data is with Behaviour

So, we’re now all about interpretation.  We know that we need human vision to achieve this interpretation but we need to put the systems in place to know how to interpret the output of social data analysis.

This isn’t always a quick or easy process but you will get disproportionate results. What I mean by that is, if you put in double the work you may get 10 times the reward.  Here’s an example for you…

I was working with a client who wanted to engage a specific audience but this audience didn’t really consider engaging with my client.  You may ask why?  The client in this case was a sponsor, they were not the primary reason for engagement, they were a bystander who wanted to be part of the engagement.  It took a while but after customer journey, emotional, language and personality analysis we were able to develop a tactic that would allow the client to enter into conversations meaningfully.  The end output of this project seen nearly 2 million impressions for the client, active re-engagement from their audience (remember they didn’t want to engage before) and even some of the audience looking to become customers as a result of the activity all from engaging with around 50 people.  This is what I mean about disproportionate results, a little longer in the analysis means we can better target and refine to get better results..

I’ve found the best way to do this is go to the ‘why’ and not the ‘what’ of behaviours in social data.  Interestingly the best way to interpret social analysis is from a behavioural point of view.  Remember when you were told your psychology degree wouldn’t be of value?  Well, it is of extreme value now.  Don’t just stick with psychology, there are is whole raft of behavioural sciences that can help you interpret and action your analysis findings.

Here you will learn:

  • Key approaches to social data analysis through a behavioural lens
  • How to interpret social data analysis through the lens of behavioural science (don’t worry I’ll break it down simply for you)
  • How do add behavioural nudges to your campaigns, design and brand to get more bang for your buck

The Real Truth About Social Data Analysis

The real truths about social data analysis can be a little uncomfortable and you need to go beyond the hype of the analytics industry (yes, really).  If you’re still with me (and I don’t mind if you’re not) then you’ll get to know how to:

  • Approach analysis in the best way to match changes in behaviour, not stick with the same old metrics
  • Use social tools but know their limitations, how to overcome them, how to choose social tools and how to hack them for behavioural insight
  • Understand that we need human interpretation to get insights from data
  • Focus interpretation on understanding behaviour, not reporting big numbers

We’ll focus on how to gain insight to make stronger brands, marketing intelligence, experiences, creative and design.

I believe that we live in a technological revolution but I believe the real essence of this revolution is behavioural.  To win in digital we need to focus on behaviour as behaviour drives the technological revolution.  People science for your digital data is the key to navigating this digital disruption with ease.

What I’m Looking For From You

Are you still with me?  Do you agree that we need to rethink our approach to extracting insights from digital data?

If you’re in then great, let’s get started.  Don’t worry if you’re not with me, I said before this is not for everyone – you’re not going to hurt my feelings if you want to stick with old measurement metrics but thanks for stopping by.

What I’m looking for from you today is to tell me, your biggest challenges in getting actionable intelligence from social data, what’s been holding you back from making changes to get better intelligence and what interests you in using people science in your digital data.

 Dr Jillian

P.S. Remember, this community has been built for you.  Let me know your challenges and your interests so we can publish more content that is of value to you.  I work on the premise of value in, value out. So, over to you…