Many businesses and marketers use web and social media monitoring services like Spiral16 to monitor their brands.
But the elephant in the room when it comes to online data monitoring is this: Lots of people know what statistics, charts and graphs to pull for reports.
But there aren't many people who truly understand what to look for when wading through online data results. And there are even fewer people who understand how to look for the targeted information they need to gather.
There are two important rules to keep in mind when trying to analyze data gathered from web monitoring.
1. Web monitoring is like fishing.
2. Begin with the end in mind.
First, let's tackle the fishing analogy. It's corny but it's true. Gathering data in the sea of spam of the world wide web is tricky. You have to use the right "bait" to find the information you need. You have to fish in the right location to find the data that's important for your topic.
It's not magic and it's not easy. But the terms, or "bait," you use in your web monitoring will impact the data you'll get back. In addition, it helps to know where to fish for your data. If you don't know which part of the web to search for the data you need, cast a wide net in the early stages of your monitoring project and narrow down your search as you figure it out.
The second rule is to begin with the end in mind. This key concept is often forgotten in web monitoring. Beginning with the end in mind means not just collecting data just to collect data! You need to look for vital information that can drive business. It's different for every client, but in general here are a three of the many situations we see frequently for online monitoring:
- If you want to monitor brand reputation, you'll set up a simple search based on brand mentions.
- If you need to identify who is talking about a topic or you want to find out what subjects are hot in a community, that is a very different monitoring approach. These searches must begin broad and then narrow as you find more information.
- If you want to compare your business or brand to competitors, that should be set up as a competitive search. This type of set-up for monitoring is like night and day from the searches above.
Think of the Internet as a crowded room with many people talking.
At the very least, brands need to discover the online conversations that are the most influential, or "loud," and look at the significant changes or movements there have been since the last reporting period.
Merely collecting data won't get you there. It's analyzing and interpreting that data that will help you gain insight.
This is so important that Spiral16 assists all our clients in goal-setting and any day-to-day questions about data, so clients aren't left to wonder what it all means. We've also rolled out Action Analytics, a whole series of customized reporting options for those who don't have the time to analyze the data themselves.
Because data without context doesn't mean anything.