Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why is social media data quality less important than quantity?

I will keep this short, but I am at wit's end over this.  As I work with many companies across the business landscape, I am appalled by the number of people who are continuously enamored with social media data quantity over quality. 

What does this mean? 

To the average person I see many more people questioning social media data because there should be more of it.  Or they say using a statistical sample is garbage because they want to know about the other 990,000 data points.  I hear people say that unless we understand everything then it can't be true.  Yet they will manhandle 20 sound bites that state there message and run off the to press room.

I mean come on.  This is just craziness.  Isn't it true that presidential elections are usually fairly accurate using standardized polling methods that use statistical samples of data with a few thousand data points.  No one questions these number even though they are usually generated through calling home phone numbers that are becoming obsolete.  Isn't that statistically "difficult" to swallow.

I remember when I was a lab scientist that my head was beaten in if I didn't do the right control experiment, collect the data enough to be sure it was right or simply had the common sense to accept relevant data sets. 

With social media its like people have gone crazy due to data overload.  Are you really going to miss the insight if you don't get that 999,999 sound bite characterized?  All I am saying as I usually do is that social media listening does not equal understanding.

If you have 1000 great highly accurate data points doesn't understanding what they are specifically saying help you more than knowing there are 3,200,000 tweets on a website and the volume is up 5% versus yesterday. 

Give me a deep understanding in a day (versus waiting 4-8 weeks with a normal brand tracker), rather than a surface look at a ton of junk...

I am just sayin...let's think a little harder about why versus how much or how much more.

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