At a recent BlogWell event I got a chance to hear Robert Raines from Chevron present his Social Media program and how he reports their activity into the Boardroom. It all starts with the Pulse Report that Chevron had produced by Edelman (their PR firm) using their Alterian's SM2 social media monitoring tool. They identified around 60 Million conversations (per year) across blogs, microblogs such as Twitter, discussion forums and social networks like Facebook and other enabling technologies such as YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr relating to Energy.
From there the work began with Edelman to classify them into key conversational issues (of which they identified 50 issues) and then narrow that down to 8 major issues within 3 broad categories: Energy Resources, Energy Technology, and Energy & Environment. These were the three broadest terms that applied to the most relevant conversations about energy.
Obviously a topic like Energy has been written about for ages - at its highest level it has millions of conversations, press, articles, blog pages and best of all opinions! They used Boolean searches (which are available in most listening engines today) to narrow their searches to only the most relevant posts. Then they detailed a taxonomy of trigger words that signaled whether the post was positive or negative in sentiment. And from there analyzed and tracked the changes in volume and sentiment for each topic by quarter.
Using the report they were able to glean insights into the prominence of certain topics by consumers and the trending of the topics that were most important to Chevron. Moreover they could use the report to build content and engage in topics that were trending where Chevron was a thought leader or was looking to become more of a thought leader.
I think this report is a great example for all of us - it shows a very comprehensive approach to monitoring and gaining insights from data. Many listening engines provide you with "streams" of data which is great. But as I like to say "there is a big difference between Data and Insights" and this report shows you how Chevron navigated the streams of data to create real insights that can be shared and discussed at the highest levels of the organization. Its perfect example of where I think PR needs to focus these days - on conversations and not on publications.