Interview with Wendy Scherer on Spiral16 Blog: Why Social Media Monitoring Is Critical For Business Today

Originally posted on the Spiral 16 Blog.

We are fortunate to know and sometimes collaborate with Wendy Goldman Scherer of Scherer Cybrarian and The Social Studies Group.  Wendy recognized the need for concise, actionable research early on in her career as a  strategist in a large advertising agency. And she found her love of the online world early, also –  back in the mid‐eighties. There were no graphic user interfaces yet – meaning there was only text online and you even had to know commands. Can you say ‘geek’?

She founded Scherer Cybrarian to marry the two – using online databases and search prowess to deliver great knowledge documents. The firm grew to include primary research and more and more social media research. The social media research practice continued to advance and grow until it became evident that it could stand firmly on its own. As a result, The Social Studies Group has become a vibrant company growing and creatively expanding as technology and client needs change.

Wendy works with a team of analysts who love their work as much as she does – and that’s a lot.  Clients include numerous respected global brands across virtually all industry categories.  Wendy is an accomplished speaker and guest lecturer, having held presentations, webinars, and lessons for many corporate and nonprofit meetings and university graduate programs.

We talked with Wendy about the importance of social media monitoring for businesses today and are excited to share some of her brainpower with you.

Question:  Why do you think using tools to monitor the social media “space” is important for businesses today?

The great thing about the Internet as we know it today is the vast amount of information it makes available to us. The awful thing about the Internet as we know it today is the vast of amount of information it makes available to us. Without good strategies to determine what is important to know and good tools to discover it, it is difficult (if not impossible) to harness the information in any meaningful way.

Question:  What do you see as THE most important benefit for a business when it comes to social media monitoring?

I believe the most important benefit to a good, sound monitoring process is a flow of fresh data. Back in the day (in the 1900s as @andrewscherer likes to say), companies could at best expect to have annual research, customer surveys, and other scheduled or ad-hoc data inputs. Now, we can see a constant flow of this data. It’s truly amazing for research geeks like me. Of course, data in and of itself is not useful. But then, it never was. What can be done with this information in real-time to make product and service improvements, increase customer loyalty, create good will, and affect sales and boost recommendations is literally limited only by one’s imagination.

So to be more concise (not my strongpoint), a constant flow of pointed, actionable data is the most important benefit.

Question: What’s an innovative way that you’ve used social media monitoring tools to benefit your clients?

I’ve been really lucky in that our clients are constantly challenging us to dig deeper, learn more, and find insights in the data. (Woo hoo!) We have done all sorts of innovative things (pats self on back), but a stand-out application is using monitoring to determine the predominance of leisure activities within mentions of competing brands. The resulting report was quite telling and revealing, among other things, how different segments of our client’s brand (and competing brands’) target audiences were participating on different platforms. Imagine how different the social media strategy that was borne from this research was, as opposed to how it might have been had the client assumed all segments behaved similarly.

Question:  What is the future – is monitoring just a fad that a few businesses think is important, or is it something that’s destined to become a pillar of good business practices?

Oh, the future. I surely don’t believe that monitoring is a fad. Monitoring will be – and is already for some companies – a window into the minds of their consumers. Never before have we had such access to consumer opinion – in such volume and unfettered by analysts (ouch). Since we’re so close to it, it sometimes seems as if everyone is doing it, but this is not the case. Many companies are still trying to figure out the how’s and what’s of monitoring.

The more entrenched brands are working to correlate monitoring data with sales and behavioral data and we believe you’ll be hearing a lot more about that.

Do I think social media monitoring will change from what we now see? Absolutely. The tools will continue to grow in sophistication and ease of use. I expect we’ll see some consolidation in the industry. But fortunately for me, there will always be a need for someone to harness and make sense of the data for actionable insights.

This post was written by Aaron Weber of Spiral16 and posted on the company blog Dec. 7, 2010.