Interesting Q&A about Social Media and Text Analytics
Text Analytics News just published an interesting panel interview on the Social Media Summit website with myself, Dana Jacob who is Sr. Manager of Social Media Insights & Analytics of Yahoo!, Judy Pastor who is Principal Operations Research Manager of American Airlines, Usher Lieberman Director of Corporate Communications at TheFind, and Marshall Sponder of WebMetricsGuru.
I think it's great to hear how fellow market researchers on both the supplier and client side are leveraging social media with text analytics.
The four of us participated in the Q&A which is available on the Social Analytics Summit website (note: requires registration), but you can read part of the interview below. I understand this is the first part in a series of interviews Text Analytics News is doing. I strongly believe that we're just skimming the tip of the social media iceberg when it comes to more serious analytics and insights and it's important for those of us who have started taking deeper dives analytically to share some of what we have found, both good and bad.
Text Analytics News: What are the primary ways in which you leverage Social Media for your clients?
Pastor (American Airlines): American Airlines and our loyalty program, AAdvantage, have both Twitter accounts and Facebook pages to communicate with customers. Twitter is our first line of problem identification and is quickly becoming a major portal to our Customer Relations and Reservations departments for passengers on the "day of departure" (i.e. in the process of traveling).
Currently, we answer 700 tweets per day and that will increase as we ramp up our twitter agents to 24/7 by the end of first quarter, 2012. Inquiries and problems are also addressed on Facebook, though these tend to involve future travel plans. We also monitor the frequent flyer forums such as www.flyertalk.com and www.milepoint.com and reply to questions that may come up about our policies and procedures. Our Facebook pages also highlight fare sales, and special travel destinations and deals.
Anderson (OdinText): Anderson Analytics has been leveraging Text Analytics (now OdinText) to help our clients understand customer comments since 2005. Early on our focus was primarily on customer comments in survey open ends; this is still a key area for most of our clients. However since 2007 our clients have asked us to incorporate analysis of social media including discussions taking place on open forums such as Flyertalk.com. Twitter and other social networks are also a growing area of interest, however we try to help our clients to make educated decisions and prioritize all the unstructured data sources now available rather than trying to "boil the ocean". We've found a deeper analysis and understanding of the relative importance of these sources makes for a better analytics ROI.
Sponder (WebMetricsGuru): I'm an analyst, so the lens I use to leverage social media is through an understanding of online conversations and how they can be best categorized. I don't consider myself a marketer, and let other others do that for me, so I am not focused on marketing messages or how to best respond, but I do look at platforms that handle those functions for marketers and public relations.
As far as the particulars of how I leverage social media for clients, I look at the following categories
• Is it brand messaging?
• Is it non specific, but pertaining to the overall industry?
• Is it messaging pertain to a specific topic related to the client?
• Is the messaging online representative of offline sentiment (often, we've found, it's not).
Lieberman (TheFind): TheFind is a shopping search engine with perhaps the only index of every online store and available product; roughly 500k stores and 500 million items for sale. We are increasingly using social media, specifically the social signals broadcast by the open graph, to influence our search results. Already, the most Liked stores and brands in your network are ranked higher and the products people Like are more visible. We expect the influence of social signals to accelerate as more stores and brands recognize the obvious SEO benefits of driving social signals such as Like and +1 down to the product level.
Text Analytics News: What kinds of social media analytics have you found most useful?
Jacob (Yahoo!): For our needs, text analytics is the foundation of social media analytics. Sentiment analysis is not sufficient as the bulk of social conversations convey a spectrum of emotions, therefore can't really be categorized as positive or negative. In order to extract actionable insights, it is critical to sort, filter, analyze and code the conversations into quantifiable categories that are meaningful to specific business context.
Even for engagement metrics, text analytics are key to understanding the key drivers behind the engagement.
Anderson (OdinText): We've looked at and worked with many of the providers out there from social media monitoring to pure play text analytics vendors. What we have found is that there is no one tool out there for every situation. The needs differ tremendously by both data source as well as use case. Many of the social media monitoring tools out there have focused more on Twitter data and on the public relations use case, while the pure text analytics tools have taken an almost too broad of an approach. This is the reason we developed OdinText specifically for market research managers, however we make no claims about our own tools being the best tool for every use case and every type of data.
We've found a discussion about what client objectives are, what data is most suitable to answer these is the best approach. Sometimes this means recommending a provider like SalesForce's Radian6 or other vendor, sometimes it means designing a custom ad-hoc study that may incorporate survey data, and other times OdinText is used. Regardless, in many cases we do find that further and deeper analysis is beneficial; these are usually conducted using one of the common statistical analysis packages out there whether it's something as basic as Excel or something more advanced like IBM's PASW Modeler, SAS, Latent Gold etc. It really depends on the need and the data.
Pastor (American Airlines): We track click through rates and referrals from our Facebook pages to our booking engine, www.AA.com, and attribute revenue to each. Number of issues solved via Twitter is also tracked. We are still looking for ways to quantify the softer side of SM - the good and the bad stories that our customers tell. We are currently working on tracking Likes, re-tweets, and shares...[Full Q&A on Social Analytics Summit site]
Thank you to Text Analytics News and Social Media Summit for organizing these Q&A panels. I'd love to hear how others are using social media in their insights programs.