Extracting Meaning from Chaos in Social Media.
By Josiah Mackenzie
Tuesday, 25th January 2011
This week at EyeForTravel's Atlanta event I'll be sharing how we can find meaning from chaos in all the online reviews and social media mentions travel companies see today.

My intention is to explore some ways we might gather meaningful insight from the rapidly increasing amounts of customer data available on the web.

The challenge we face

Travelers are dramatically increasing the volume of data they publish to the web – both intentionally and unintentionally. Cross-posting between social media networks and increasing integration means that one activity may be posted across 10 different websites.

For example, when I check into a coffeeshop using the Gowalla application on my mobile phone, that activity is recorded in Gowalla, cross-posted to Foursquare, sends a Twitter update, notifies my Facebook friends, and updates my Tumblr.

The challenge – and potential danger – we face here is that if your organization doesn't have the right systems and procedures in place to gather insights you can quickly be overwhelmed by data.

(This is even worse if you don't even know exactly what you're looking for in all the social media mentions out there.)

The reason for social media communication

Feeling overwhelmed by a huge amount of data often leads to inaction. And this is very dangerous because the whole purpose of monitoring the social web and taking part in conversations there is so you can take action on them.

Generate insights to act on

It's important to avoid "true but useless" intelligence, and focus exclusively on creating reports that provide insights you can use immediately. It should not take a "social media guru" to make sense of the feedback your customers give you.

Your action step: Create very, very specific social media intelligence reports for each person within your organization.

Instead of one person looking at overview summaries, gaining a competitive advantage requires everyone on your team to have access to position-specific data that will help them do their job better.

The big opportunity

The greatest opportunity right now is using insights from the social web for more than just marketing or PR.

It's in developing "social companies" where customer feedback from the web is used throughout the organization: in every strategic decision, and in all day-to-day operations.

I look forward to seeing some of you in Atlanta, and I'll post a summary of the event after for those of you who can't make it.


About the author
This blog is written by Josiah Mackenzie, who enjoys exploring the relationship between emerging technology and the hospitality industry. 

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