We Can Hear You

A convergence of technologies has changed (is currently changing) the world and how we are viewed by the companies that want to us to user their list service or by their product. Social media for many is the ability share or broadcast ideas, thoughts, information, and cat pictures with a wide audience of friends and acquaintances. I would agree that the actual power of social media, at least from the business perspective, is the no the dissemination of information, but the aggregation of information or the concept also known as, social listening or sentiment analysis.

Social listening is the monitoring of digital conversations to understand what users (or ideally customers) are saying about an industry, brand, product, or service online. Today, if you do not pay attention to your online audience you are essentially giving away a meaningful advantage to your competitors. Customer care, product feedback, sales leads, recruiting, competitive analysis, all of this can be done by leveraging social listening.

This powerful idea had its genesis in the combination of two very different technologies/trends.

The People

Let’s jump back in time for a second. The year was 2004 and a Mr. Zuckerberg’s nascent social media platform was just gaining traction. Social media was born in Facebook (or at least widely adopted). They were the first mover and we all eagerly signed-up for Facebook accounts to connect with our friends, element school classmates, and eventually even our family. I am sure many of you still have those accounts and are actively using them today. Whether it was our birthdays, posts, or pictures, we all happily shared these personal details about us in the name of connecting with friends. In 2004 we saw value in the ability to connect with others online.

Combine Facebook with Twitter, Yelp, LinkedIn, and any number of other Web 2.0 social media companies and you have a force that is changing the economy and how we interact.


The Data

At roughly the same time another, slightly less public, revolution was occurring in the world of data analysis. Data scientists were experimenting with techniques to analyze structured and unstructured data sets along with the characteristics of that data such as velocity, volume and variety. Just like that, one of the most overused buzz words in information technology was born: big data.

Big data often refers simply to the use of analysis techniques such as predictive analytics, user behavior analytics, or other advanced data analytics methods that extract value from one or more data sets. With big data, it is not so much about the amount of data that’s important. It’s what organizations choose to do with the data that matters, bringing together many pieces of a larger puzzle to provide insights that lead to better decisions.

The dawn of Web 2.0 in 2005 ushered in the era of user generated content. You no longer had to be hooked into a service provider to generate web content. Everyone was a creator and they created data, an incredible amount of data (9.57 zettabytes to be exact) and luckily for us new concepts associated with big data allowed companies to manipulate and draw insights from that data.



Bringing it Together

Twitter generates a ton of data. 140 characters might not seem like much, but when you 500 million tweets being sent each day, those characters add up. When you look across the spectrum of social media platforms Twitter is an ideal candidate to provide insight into customer sentiment. Here is why:

  • On Twitter people are honest. They talk to strangers, drop one-liners and engage with personalities in a casual, low effort and authentic manner that encourages free expression.
  • Brands and consumers have a fairly even playing field to have their conversation. Everyone plays by the same rules and almost anything can be picked-up or go viral.
  • The platform was designed with metadata in mind. Hastags, retweets and mentions provide easy mechanisms to track content and engagement

Briefing Center

Twitter also saw these same advantages within their platform and few years ago began offering direct access to its data feed which is affectionately and accurately known as fire hose. Get it? Drinking from the…


Fortunately, my employer was an early adopter.

About a year ago I was in Japan for work at our corporate headquarters and had the opportunity to attend a customer briefing that included our social listening technology. All I have to say is VERY COOL. We were visiting the center with a large


Breakfast at Tsukiji Market :o)

consumer package goods company and during the demo we were able to instantaneously view what people were saying about their products in Japan and how that sentiment was trending at that current point in time, or view historic trends. From this simple demo it was easy to see the power of social data combined with powerful data analysis.


Interested in additional social listening tools? Check it out: http://keyhole.co/blog/the-top-25-social-media-monitoring-tools/

Is your organization embracing social listening?


  1. dabettervetter · ·

    Your post very strongly ties marketing concepts into this wrap up of Social Media and Digital Business! I find it fascinating how much change our social media posts from channel to channel. With restrictions like Twitter being only 140 characters, they make their product unique. The collection of data analytics of the social media channels present today is growing. So our future will hopefully have the best platforms for our individualized needs while maintaining the enormous social network.

  2. I agree completely agree with you, the analysis of the data generated by the social media is incredible useful, sometimes it goes to places where human mind cant reach, for example target in the search of consumption patterns found out that a girl was pregnant. The conclusions that you can reach with data mining are changing the way we advertise and consume products and will keep changing it as the analytics of the big data improve, since experts say that we are not getting half of the productivity that the data already stored has.

    (here is the link to the new http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/#36ca376f34c6)

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