Opinion: Why social analytics is a must for business

By Sooraj Shah
21 Mar 2012 View Comments
Computing's Sooraj Shah

It has been nearly a decade since social networking took off with various attempts at getting people to turn their personal life into a webpage containing their pictures, lists of friends and links to other like-minded individuals. If memory serves, the likes of Friendster came first (2002), followed by MySpace (2003), Facebook (2004) and then Twitter (2006).

Such has been its success that it was only a matter of time before social networking became woven into the fabric of business. Increasingly, senior executives are demanding social media-style tools to support their decision making, and the ability to analyse data held in social networks to spot business opportunities.

Further reading

To me, the decision to deploy social analytics is a no-brainer. I still find it amazing just how much information a social network can retrieve on an individual or company. Facebook, for example, uses profile information to target adverts towards its users.

Arguably the most significant development in this area in recent years is the decision by Twitter to open up its tweet archive for companies to delve into with the help of big-data filtering company DataSift’s search and analysis software.

This could have massive implications for any type of business, anywhere. To see why, pop over to DataSift’s website. To illustrate the power of its software it relates what happened when changes were made last year to the user interface (UI) of YouTube. At the time YouTube received a lot of negative comments in the press, on blogs and various user forums.

Staff at DataSift disagreed with the negative comments about the new interface and set out to prove that their positive view was the general consensus. They used DataSift’s software to capture any tweet that contained the word ‘YouTube’ in addition to a word that related to the redesign of the UI. They also added ‘sentiment tagging’ to see how people felt about the redesign.

After collecting more than 35,000 tweets over 40 hours, the staff analysed the data using the software to find that less than a third (29 per cent) of tweets made negative statements about the new UI.

This type of analysis could help companies to plan marketing campaigns, predict future business outcomes and test views of their latest products and services.

The above example relates only to Twitter, but there are other tools on the market that can help companies to mine other sources of social data for business insight. Can your organisation afford to ignore them for much longer?




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