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Hacker News on “Data Intelligence” Jan 25

Well said, @xnomagichash, well said.

From Hacker News:

…Ultimately, no matter how many pretty charts your product displays and fancy map reduce jobs transform the data into “intelligence”, unless someone can immediately take action based on what decision the analytics tells them they need to make, it’s not really “intelligence” in the thinking sense, but “intelligence” in the military sense.

In my day job, I develop software to fit a big data + intelligence niche market. No matter how many pretty charts I’ve been forced to make (to better sell the software to CEOs), the people who make the decisions based on the data we provide don’t care about visualizations AT ALL. They want our software to tell them what to do. Period. And if the software tells them to make a bad decision that costs them money it’s our fault (unless they can’t execute the decision due to safety laws, which happens), no matter how many charts they could have double checked to see if the decision was sane.
Dashboards and charts are all well and good, but ultimately a simple display that unambiguously tells you what to do (like the bicycle barometer) is much more powerful.

Referencing The Bicycle Barometer

Facebook Measurement: Six Metrics That Matter May 11

In an interview with this week, Peter Shankman told us why we should consider tossing out our social media metrics. While I agree with his point that many marketers focus far too closely on new fans and followers and far too little on context and reactions from existing fans and followers, I certainly can’t endorse a full “toss out your metrics” approach (though, reading closer, it appears that Peter Shankman doesn’t truly endorse this approach either).

So which Facebook metrics matter?

Measurement is important, but measurement that is targeted at arbitrary numbers without context or goals is useless. For example, knowing that my total Facebook fan base increased by 10% last month doesn’t give me much context around my so-called “success,” but a few additional bits of context will make this much more meaningful:

  • Say my fan growth from the month before was only 2%—what caused this month-to-month increase?
  • Was there a particular day when growth jumped, or was it a steady increase over time? If it happened on one particular day, what did we post about or do that day that was different from other days?
  • Where are new fans coming from (advertising, like stories from fan timelines, etc.)?
  • What is the demographic make-up of my existing fans? True story—we worked with a brand that saw a spike in lost Facebook fans last October. It turned out that the majority of their fans are young males, and they were promoting Breast Cancer Awareness month, which didn’t resonate with this section of their audience. Make sure your messaging aligns with your fan base. Lost fans can be just as telling as new fans.
  • What is the context and sentiment of fan responses on my Facebook Page? Many marketers focus simply on quantity of comments and likes and consider them all “good numbers,” but we recently started digging deeper by pulling Facebook comments into our system to tag for relevancy, context and sentiment. It turned out that a decent portion of comments were self promoting, inappropriate or negative. If you don’t know the context around reactions, how will you shape future messaging to make sure it is relevant and resonates with your audience?
  • What type of media does my fan base engage with the most? I love using to evaluate clicks and photo views—this is another great way to tell what content is resonating with existing fans (do our fans engage more with text, videos, photos, polls, links, etc.?).
Image via Sean MacEntee under a Creative Commons license


The Power of Celebrity Apr 26

I’m not an athlete or sports fanatic by any means but last week, news that someone I have always admired, Pat Summitt, would be stepping down from her position as head coach of the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball program grabbed my attention. After first announcing in 2011 that she was diagnosed with Early Onset Dementia, Alzheimer’s type, Summitt made the decided to move into the role of “Head Coach Emeritus” in order to focus on her health. Coach Summitt’s performance in a game was as captivating as the performance of her players. She exuded strength, control, intelligence, and respect, and symbolized those attributes for players, industry pros, and fans across the country. While Summitt will continue to serve the Lady Vols in an advisory capacity, she took a big step in confronting the seriousness of her disease by relinquishing her current role. In doing so, she brought her reality to the forefront of media coverage.

In the midst of last week’s tragic celebrity news (Dick Clark died of a heart attack; Levon Helm succumbed to throat cancer), I was curious as to what kind of attention a celebrity’s public medical struggles brought to related national causes. Summitt’s story opens up questions about her diagnosis of Early Onset Dementia, Alzheimer’s type, a disease which is hard to pinpoint without the help of genetic counseling or testing. Her announcement of her resignation as head coach on April 18th did in fact cause a spike in general conversation referencing Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. The spike carried through the 19th and tapered on the 20th (additional spikes seen in the graph on April 11th and April 22nd were generated by a tweet from @UberFacts suggesting the use of marijuana as a preventative supplement).


Perhaps the more interesting data was the spike caused by Summitt’s announcement in relation to her specific diagnosis. As inferred from the chart below, daily conversation referencing Early Onset Dementia, Alzheimer’s type, is relatively low, and while Summitt’s announcement only increased conversation about the disease for a couple of days, the story is out there and may serve to promote awareness in the future.  Any time a celebrity (particularly those who are generally regarded with high esteem) announces an illness, it reminds us that no one is exempt from life-altering health issues. The good news with stories likes Summitt’s is that often foundations and awareness campaigns emerge from personal experiences (Summitt has established the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund). For researchers who are working diligently to find cures or alleviants to rarer conditions like Early Onset Dementia, the publicity that comes from celebrity initiatives could make a significant difference in funding. Never underestimate the power of a celebrity, especially when that power can be used for good.

Data for this article was gathered using Radian6 software.

Loudpixel Hangout: Connecting Social to our Wallets Apr 17

Using social data to target consumers is nothing new, but how do you feel about syncing your finances to your social media accounts? That’s the latest push from American Express, and they’re hoping you’ll buy into it. In our latest Hangout, the Loudpixel team discusses the pros and cons of the Link, Like, Love program from AMEX which links your social accounts and credit cards to give you targeted deals.

Articles of Note:


Loudpixel Hangout: Pinterest Keeps API Private for Now Mar 29

The Loudpixel team discusses Pinterest’s decision not to release its finished API just yet.

The issue: third party developers can develop on a platform’s API more quickly than the internal team, but this may cause issues for the platform later on when the internal team wants to build out its own features.

Articles of Note:


SOPA: is it the New OWS? (Infographic) Jan 16

In December, Time Magazine named The Protester its Person of the Year. This month, a new protest has surpassed Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in online conversations. You won’t find this battle being waged on Main Street or the streets of Manhattan. This protest is taking place on the information highway—and it’s proving that the virtual battleground may be just as powerful.

The Stop Online Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has created an uproar online, squeaking past OWS by 4% in social conversations during the past month. As we move closer to the Reddit blackout in opposition of SOPA, we took a look at what’s driving these conversations.

SOPA Online Conversation Analysis

The Dirty Little Secret Social Media Aggregators Don’t Want You To Know Sep 23

There’s a dirty little secret that most social media aggregators and analytics companies don’t want you to know. The data they’re providing you? It’s bad. It’s riddled with irrelevant content and affiliate spam—sites that are set up to earn money through Amazon by automatically generating (usually irrelevant) content.

And that automated sentiment? It’s also bad. Most aggregators rate sentiment based on a preset list of words and symbols that are automatically affiliated with negativity or positivity. Most claim about 60% accuracy (a D rating by most standards). Here are some fun examples from this week:

“Negative” posts, according to automated sentiment  (I didn’t have to dig very deep for these. All of these examples were found within the first 25 of more than 23,000 posts that were listed as negative):

“Positive” posts, according to automated sentiment (note words like “funny,” “love” and “hilarious”—all words that may typically be associated with positive thoughts)

So how do we make this data better? The good news is, despite the junk, the good stuff is still in there to be uncovered. It’s just going to take a little more work. Yes, this is where I remind you that it’s absolutely necessary to have human intervention to clean up your data. Whether it’s monitoring for opportunities and threats or uncovering relevant insights and measurement points, no automated process can beat a process that includes human touch.

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