Health Evaluation TIG Week: Social Media Scanning and Analysis: A Strategy to Rapidly Gain Insight into Current and Emerging Trends by Jenica Reed, John Zimmerman, and Brian Geoghagan

Hello! We are Jenica Reed, John Zimmerman, and Brian Geoghagan, evaluation and data specialists with Deloitte Consulting, LLP. We often discuss with colleagues and clients how to better use technology to improve the quality and efficiency of data gathered, to better inform timely action. Leveraging existing and publicly available data is also often part of these conversations. The art and science of analyzing digital conversation on social media via Social Listening combines both quantitative and qualitative approaches to?glean insight from large, unstructured digital data sets. This approach is?similar to?traditional market surveys or?focus groups, with the added benefit of listening to organic, undirected conversations across social platforms.

Lesson Learned:

Social Listening, especially ones that can combine authorized streams from multiple social media sources, can give insight into millions of publicly available data sources made up of online conversations across social channels, websites, news sources, and more. Social Listening enables organizations to rapidly gain insight into current and emerging trends and provides unique perspectives to show how relevant topics and actions are being discussed and put into practice.

Hot Tip #1:

Use the following four key elements to map out this work. Then create a detailed plan within each element, to guide implementing this work (and track for replication, reporting, publication, if relevant).

  • Learn – Align on social listening requirements including defining relevant sources, dates, and keywords. Define goals and determine which social media listening tools are best to use for this process.
  • Create – Create search queries, set date ranges, and add language, location, and source filters to enable customization and display of key metrics and content. 
  • Analyze – Define query themes by reviewing dashboard data, layering additional queries as needed to uncover volumetric data. Export conversation stream by theme and conduct qualitative or natural language processing (NLP) coding.
  • Deliver – Develop and deliver social listening reports tailored to each need of the project or audience of focus.

Hot Tip #2:

Social listening scanning is often based on matches to keyword queries. Queries, made up of keywords, hashtags, phrases, and the organization’s name (including abbreviations, misspellings, and slang) help determine which conversations are pulled for each topic. Some tools may feature more advanced search options that combine some NLP capabilities for enhanced search.

Hot Tip #3:

Use query outputs for actionable insights. Query outputs enable users to leverage actionable insights derived from real-time conversation across data sources.  

Hot Tip #4:

Data can be aggregated by a dashboard derived from publicly available posts across millions of sources, including Twitter, Facebook (public page posts only), Instagram (only #hashtag keywords will return results), Blogs, Blog Comments, Forums, Reddit, etc. Data can also be turned into metrics such as sentiment, net sentiment, reach, and volume mentions to dig deeper into themes being uncovered in social media scanning.

Hot Tip #5:

Results can often be overwhelming. It can be challenging to find the signal in the noise, and contextual understanding of what is being discussed will always need to be considered when filtering findings from social media listening.

Have you incorporated social media as a data source or social media listening strategies into your work? Did the outcomes meet your goal? We’d love to hear about any successes or challenges. Please share below in the comment box.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Health Evaluation TIG Week with our colleagues in Health Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our HE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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