Everyone who has ever worked in Data or Social Listening been involved in building queries will hopefully relate to what I am about to write.
The 1st step in all the briefs we receive is to come up with a query that will enable us to retrieve all the data we need to surface insights. Even if, initially, writing queries doesn’t seem like a complicated process, it is! It is a full time job that requires a very specific skill set. At Black Swan, we often say building queries is an art as well as a science, which balances a lot of parameters forcing us to face key questions like:

“What shall I add to my query? What shall I remove? How many Keywords will I use? How many operators? If I include that keyword, how will it impact the full dataset? What if I include a keyword that will bias everything? Do I need brand mentions or shall I focus the analysis on the core keyword?”

These are only a fraction of the questions we face. I could go on and on until you realise building queries actually sounds like an existential crisis. Ok, it isn’t, but it easily could be! Writing queries is a complicated task, but every once in a while it becomes 100 times more challenging. For example, when a brand like SKY comes round, to get a Social Insight Analysis.

But WHY is it more challenging?

– Because the brief is more complex/?

– Because the scope of work is larger?

– Because their brand ecosystem is vaster?

No, the answer is so simple and obvious that at first you may not even consider it. I can tell you, however, that after the euphoria of working for such an incredible blue-chip client, you will start to embrace the challenge ahead:

– Sky doesn’t mean internet provider

– Sky doesn’t only refer to mobile, tv offers and broadband plans.

– Sky is not, per se, a brand

“SKY: The region of the atmosphere and outer space seen from the earth.”

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/sky

And that’s it, all of a sudden the “already complicated task” turns into a chimera.

How am I supposed to build a query when the name of the brand also refers to birds and clouds? How will I find a way to target the brand mentions but avoid downloading all those hipsterish, inspirational quotes people love to share on Pinterest, like “The Sky is the only limit”. Never mind, we love challenges, and we love turning what sounds impossible into an amazing piece of insight.

At Black Swan every data project is preceded by a desk research phase that enables us to develop a thorough understanding of each market and social conversation. Using different tools developed by our very special team of data scientists and developers, we start by observing social conversations and identifying the core elements being discussed. We advise on how best to structure the query based on the specifics of your brand, and develop clever ways to retrieve brand specific data, rather than simply going for a volume based approach. By juggling with operators, parenthesis and additional keywords, we come up with the best possible query to get the most accurate view of the conversation about your business. On top of this tailoring phase, we would also spend quite a bit of time doing additional research to identify keywords causing noise, and embed exclusion list within queries to minimise the amount of noise, leading to a higher accuracy of data.

We often hear in big data that everything is about quantity, but with the previous example we can say that if quantity comes first, quality is definitely not far away. This is even more true when your brand is a homophone, and you are trying to get an accurate view of your share of the voice. The challenge is real but not impossible, and this is what we do and what we are proud of at Black Swan.

I was wandering in the office today asking people to give me names of brands that are also nouns, and in just a few minutes we identified several of these, so here’s a bonus game for you at home or in the office, try to identify as many of the brands as possible, some answers below:

APPLE, AMAZON, VIRGIN, SKY, BURGER KING, JAGUAR, SHELL, ORANGE, DOVE, BOOTS, ICELAND, MARYLAND, MAGNUM, INNOCENT, WALKERS, SALT, CURRIES, MANGO, GUMTREE, GUESS, WINDOWS, VICE, VANS, OFFICE, FAY, QUAKER, WALKERS, WASABI, COKE, WAREHOUSE, O2, ROGERS, WIND, THREE, RED BULL, MARVEL, BLACKBERRY, HABITAT, VIEW, ALPHABET, SUN, MIRROR, MARS, BOSS, VISA, JOY, TIDE, PIZZA HUT, CANON, SPRINT, OMEGA, STAPLES, TACO BELL, MALIBU, CHROME, TARGET, ARIEL, FLASH, ADOBE, ORBIT, EXTRA, HOLLYWOOD, ELEMENT, ECONOMIST, OYSTER, ORACLE, PUMA, PRINCE, CATERPILLAR, GLOBE, PERISCOPE, PINK, FAT FACE, BULL DOG, OXFORD, PANDORA, SWAG, MINI, NEST, HIVE, CANARY, HUE, LLOYDS, DIESEL, WRANGLER, DRUMSTICK, STEAM, VALVE, FALLOUT, BLACKBOX, SLACK, VINE, SLEEP CYCLE, SUBWAY, FEVER, DOJO, MARIO, UBER, WISH, FANCY, AMERICAN APPAREL, COMFORT, FAIRY, PEDIGREE, PLAYBOY, SAFARI, MINUTE MAID, TIGER, GIRAFFE, NEW BALANCE, CAMPER, GALAXY, MILKY WAY, TWISTER, NEXT, MONOPOLY, SHARP, CHEVRON, MONSTER, CORAL, UPS, NATIONWIDE, SMARTIES, DOMINO’S, JIGSAW, SAW, FORD, ASPIRE, WALLS, SHARD, ROUGE…

 

& EVEN US HERE AT BLACK SWAN…

 

 

Marine is a planner at heart. She spends so much time observing the world, understanding behaviour, analysing online conversation and deciphering patterns within pools of data, many think she could be part of the Matrix. After 2 MScs in Advertising & Marketing, Marine joined Black Swan to help the Insight & Innovation team with their interstellar insights.