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Social media data represents new frontier

Rachel Wheeler Archive
There is a variety of data available on social media. The debut of big data analytics technology has made this information widely available. However, it is different from classic, organized figures in several significant ways. The facts gleaned from social sites are often unstructured and stored in the form of text. Companies can now use this information without sampling small segments or changing its format, meaning it is time to develop data quality and fitness for use metrics.

Experts weigh in

According to Huffington Post contributor Jeremy Lipschultz, tech experts are currently dealing with all facets of this new resource. He recently hosted a panel dedicated to discovering the state of efforts to turn it into insight. Stu Shulman, one of Lipschultz's chosen experts, stated that many of the analytics methods currently available for social media data lack accuracy, as they are overly concerned with getting a fast result rather than taking a careful look at the facts.

Other experts, however, stated that the tools have improved significantly in recent months. Loyola University professor David Kamerer and Edelman Vice President Phil Gomes both remarked on the movement toward more robust data management technology.

Lipschultz also explained that there are several still-unresolved issues at play in the social media analytics world. Questions ranging from ethical usage quandaries to how to separate useful noise from pointless static have framed the field since its inception and present chances for data scientists to innovate moving forward. The indisputable fact is that there are millions of users on social networks, all ready to offer their opinions. Thanks to terms of service agreements, Lipschultz noted, all of those responses are now largely accessible by companies performing research. How they will use that data is an open question.

Social adds value

Social media, while it might seem quite disconnected from classic data collection and usage methods, has at least some direct usage cases. Rob Walker, writing for 1to1 Media, recently described social media as part of a customer experience management strategy, paired with classic collection methods like phone bank monitoring.

Walker explained that social sites and the internet in general represent part of the inexorable move toward more data becoming the status quo at firms. With more sources of information than ever and an increase of unstructured facts coming through those channels, new methods of analysis and management will soon become necessary.