Creative Lewisham blog

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Garbage In, Garbage Out

July 20 2011 4:17 PM

Over the last 2 years, social media monitoring has become a must for any self-respecting company, B2C or B2B, and for good reason. A tool supposedly developed to support a new marketing approach has turned out to have useful applications in many other areas of sales and marketing.

Of course it’s not the be-all and end-all, but monitoring has already delivered success stories in sales support, crisis management, reputation management and of course the planning and management of social media campaigns and strategies generating measurable ROI. But is it delivering for you? Or are you one of the many companies who have bought this amazing, one-size-fits-all, magical tool only to be confronted by pages and pages of irrelevant data through which you wade for hours only to learn precisely nothing? Maybe you’ve even given up already?

I’m happy to admit that this was my starting point. Overjoyed with my shiny new monitoring tool, I entered some keywords and sat back and waited for oodles of precious, campaign-optimising, ROI-generating information to pour in. Now at the click of a button I would be able to generate reports telling me who my influencers were, what they were saying, and where they were saying it. I could pinpoint the people, subjects and platforms that mattered and stop wading around in social media semi-darkness using the suck it and see approach.

Or not.

You see, it’s not as simple as that. Probably the most challenging aspect of monitoring is building - and optimising - your searches. If you think you can just enter a phrase to search for and only receive relevant results, then you’ve got another think coming - unless it really is very unique and specific, that is. Because the fact is that almost any term you can imagine searching for is ambiguous, and some far more than others.

Let’s take brand mentions, for instance: do I even need to point out the challenge in simply setting up a search for ‘Creative Lewisham’? Once you’ve removed the hundreds, if not thousands - of tweets by American teenagers about their blooming sexual activity, followed by every conceivable (what base is actual conception?) comment about baseball matches and players, you might actually find something relevant. Or imagine you are interested in finding out what’s going on in the world of Dun & Bradstreet? This would also mean searching for D&B, at which point you are into the world of, wait for it… drum & bass!

The same applies to almost any other search you can think of. You can’t just enter your keywords and press go. You need to think of all the keywords to exclude, all the combinations that might work better, you need to work clever. Maybe it’s best to look for specific rather than broad issues, even if this dramatically reduces the number of results you receive. And in an ideal world you need someone who has a thorough knowledge of Boolean search, as, in the main, the WYSIWYG approach doesn’t do enough.

So basically the important lesson to learn is that you get out from monitoring tools what you put into them, and garbage in definitely means garbage out. Also, even the most refined searches will still produce irrelevant results, making monitoring optimisation and analysis an ongoing process. Every report needs refining and tidying up.

At Creative Lewisham we have chosen to dedicate considerable time to building accurate and relevant searches, and conducting detailed analysis of results, excluding sites and identifying additional negatives. In the long term this is the only way to gain the tangible benefits properly managed social media monitoring can deliver.

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July 30 2024 4:33 AM