Networked Insights' founder and CEO Dan Neely suggests the answer lies in a third-party platform - and he would happily suggest his company's - to do the listening for you. "There is a massive set of data out there, but you need to be able to tell the difference between what's important vs. what's noise," he says. "How do you hear the conversations that make sense for your company to engage in?"
Networked Insights' approach is embodied in its SocialSense Listening Platform. The solution pulls in up to 35,000 conversations a day, from 15,000 blogs and 22,000 other social media sources, then uses keywords to pull out significant conversations. The solution presents the conversations graphically on an axis based on sentiment and engagement. Filters can be applied to sift the data to find the important conversations - the only ones really worth investing time in, Neely says.
"Other solutions can tell you how many times something has happened, but not how valuable those things are," says Neely. "We measure it in a way that allows you to see the influential conversations, and to see which are your elite customers" within those conversations.
One of the secrets to finding the right conversations is understanding what those conversations sound like. "You need to learn the language of your customers - and it does not always sound like the language your marketing department may use to describe your products or your market," he says.
A tool like this is only as useful as what you do with it; Neely freely admits that the insights it provides need to be acted upon in an effective way to drive value out of the social media investment. Once you know where the important conversations are, you should participate - but, at first, only as what Neely described as a "groupie." "You need to get a feel for that conversation before you leap in," he says. "Once you understand that, your contributions will gain value in that community. You'll project authenticity by being more a part of the fiber of that conversation."
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