Recently, Mike Stelzner from Social Media Examiner interviewed one of my favorite bloggers and stats genius Tom Webster of Edison Research. When Tom speaks, I listen. If there was a list of experts in social media research and measurement, he would be at the top (with Olivier Blanchard and Katie D. Paine). The interview is packed, so get ready to take some notes when you watch.
One of the takeaways of the piece was the need for a social media monitoring system (SMMS). Webster recommended that a monitoring system should play two important roles. At CKSyme.org, we talk about the importance of SMMS in crisis as an "early warning system." Webster confirmed that is the role we most often envision when we think about SMMS: real-time data mining. But he cautioned that monitoring has an equally important role in other operations: watching slow data for trends.
We need to think of data in terms of what it brings to the big picture. Using data for what Webster termed a "long focus group" enables us to see trends, whether it's for product development, customer service, recruiting, fund raising, or any other part of operations. This piece of data mining requires some work and understanding, but it is a necessary part of any social media strategy.
Another interesting tidbit from the video: the majority of Americans (12+) are now using social media, and the 35-54 age group is the fastest growing.