As consultants and analysts, we all want to deliver on visions of a new kind of socially enabled enterprise, much like the promises offered at Dreamforce. There are pivotal challenges that will ultimately decrease the likelihood for real success stories if the core language and educational challenges go unaddressed.

One reality is that many Value-added resellers (VAR) and even more customers don’t yet speak in terms of data intelligence at all, much less words like social, engaging, listening, monitoring and analysis which have now been added to the business lexicon. We have to simplify it and make it easier, especially for small and medium businesses (SMBs) with lean staffing.

In an effort to aid the non-analytical but eager masses, this will be a very basic "how to" guide series for organizations on how to take smaller sips from the fire hose, and chew on new knowledge nuggets in smaller, more easily digestible morsels.

Smaller Bites

Frameworks are useful. Development has Agile. Project Management has Prince2. How about a basic framework for smoothly integrating monitoring and analytics into their business? There is a critical need for a widespread basic methodology as a starting point. I’m not suggesting this series will be that kind of framework, but let’s start by giving some simple steps in simple language as a starting point.

If we shift our thinking away from use cases and toward specific events, we quickly recognize that we can iterate how social, listening and monitoring are woven into the processes that are affected by events. And we can guide customers to build more value and intelligence into their services as a result. We can also teach an invaluable set of basic principles for understanding better how to market, monitor, respond and analyze activities and insights, in phases and as a whole -- regardless of whether users have fancy new tools or are performing manual analysis.

Given that there are different use cases and needs across organizations -- there is no "one scenario to rule them all" -- the key to better story-telling, messaging and use understanding is to present using a standard basic, but infinitely flexible theme.

The Basics

While there are unique requirements and goals for every business, ALL businesses share one commonality:

Whether large or small, all organizations have events -- planned and unplanned.

(They might not call them events, but that is what they are.)

  1. All orgs have events, whether planned or unplanned.
  2. Events can have internal, external or a combination of both audiences.
  3. Events may include any combination of: customers, partners, prospects/leads, supply chain, vendors, employees, VARs, competitors, influencers, public, media, industry interests.

In simple terms, an event might be planned like a new product launch, a marketing campaign, a webinar series or attendance at an industry conference or trade show. Unplanned events might be something like a natural disaster that affects business, loss of wireless connection during a big conference or it might even be a single negative tweet that spreads across the internet.

Once you shift the story to begin understanding that you can look at most business and social activities as events, it becomes easier to begin to analyze them using a very simple method: break the event nuggets into bite-sized, chewable, digestible bites.

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How to Break it Down

ALL events can be broken down into before, during & after phases

With that basic shift in perspective, non-analytically inclined business users can now begin to ask relevant, intelligent questions to determine where listening, engagement, response, community building, follow-ups and sentiment might fit into their business processes and KPI’s at each phase. It is as simple as repeating these steps over and over -- before, during and after every event -- rinse and repeat infinitely to improve your value offerings and business intelligence:

  • Monitor
  • Feedback
  • Assign
  • Action
  • Response
  • Process
  • Analyze

Using the event method, you have:

  • Two kinds of listening/data mining/analysis:
    Confirmation -- searching for knowns  and
    Discovery -- searching for unknowns using layered data that builds over time
  • Two kinds of responses:
    Real-time recovery/action and
    Longer term strategies/initiatives generation

You can:

  • Tell stories with a better narrative flow. You can can show cause to correlation.
  • Build your own framework for consistent analysis -- measured across multiple dimensions, data points and metrics.
  • It’s repeatable -- can repeat on infinite events or over and over on the same event -- like a negative tweet turned into a happy customer.
  • From a fan page "like" to an international story making headlines -- when examined under the same basic framework it is easier to decide what drove success and failure at each phase.
  • Take it a step further and think ahead to audit, governance and risk management for your organization. All social conversations and activities (events in and of themselves) can be linked to a specific point in time. Whether creating policy or running recovery strategies, what happens before, during and after are critical considerations.

Looking Forward

If you leap even further ahead, you’re now also providing a solid foundation for doing predictive analytics for future events based on activities by phase during earlier events. Ultimately, customers and business users can begin to build their own maturity model and better understand how to merge activities and analysis into their own unique processes more readily.

We’ve established that all organizations have events, but many look at those events as a whole project or as singular unrelated happenings. Businesses can improve their own value offerings by defining goals, KPIs, process adjustments and activities before, during and after events, large or small. It all starts with a basic understanding of layering data and the value of infinite intelligence loops.

Like hula hoops, the more loops you can spin and the longer you can keep them off the ground, the healthier and more fit you are. And healthier businesses can deliver better service and value.

Next up in part 2 of this series, we’ll explore how to use this basic method to plan a trade show event and incorporate engagement, community building, customer service and analysis into each phase of the event.

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