Becoming a Data Detective to Investigate Social Analytics

Winning the social media analytics game requires curiosity and what is best described as a data detective mindset, where one is fond of digging into the details. And although this isn’t his official title, Dalton Long, who is a Social Analyst with Moxie, fits that role perfectly. He should, as he coined the “data detective” title during our interview where we discussed what brings the data alive for him. And why it’s so important for agencies to master.

how to measure social analytics roi

What gets you excited about your job? Your favorite thing(s) or experiences that stand out for you.

It can be a little daunting sometimes, but I appreciate the challenge. For example, when you’re looking at 100,000 posts in the past month about the DC riots, and then need to craft that into a story that’s understandable. One that helps client brands know who their audience is and shows what makes their audience tick by showing them the consumer motivations and drivers. Brands want to resonate with people, and to do that, they need to know why.

That’s a great segue to our next question, who is the audience for your analysis and what seems to resonate the most with them?

This falls into a couple of different buckets. Internally, our agency uses social analytics to help from a leadership and direction standpoint. As an example, we expanded our work to include a daily newsletter around COVID-19, social justice issues, what’s going on in the world, how it relates for our agency specifically, and how it could impact our clients. We send it out to three sister agencies and about 20-odd clients just to put some perspective around strategic learnings and how to maneuver this COVID-19 world that we’re living in. And recently, I built out a dashboard around the DC riots, and how that lead up to Inauguration Day and what it could mean for us directing our clients.

From a client standpoint, this kind of intel resonates, as we can’t set anything to autopilot anymore. Today’s campaign or campaign messaging needs constant evaluation and re-evaluation with things changing as quickly as they do and people turning more to social media. We must be both reactive and proactive in terms of content strategy, as well as just general thought leaderships for our clients.


Dashboard example showing posts gaining traction socially and within various news sources around Popeyes.

Which business critical purposes do you use NetBase Quid for, and how frequently do you use it for this purpose?

I’m in NetBase pretty much every day. We use it agency-wide and for client strategy directions, general marketing, and trend identification. And I just started working with a new client who increased our scope to build out community management efforts.

To support that, I’m building out a process for NetBase alerts around specific topics of interest to drive better brand love or favorability. So, creating extremely specific thresholds for alerts such as how people are talking about XYZ or if a certain conversation gets seven posts an hour – we’ll get an alert. This allows us to go to our client with intel on their audiences’ interests and a strategy on how to activate them in real-time or engage in the conversation.


Example of setting alerts in NetBase Pro


What key performance indicators are you tracking/complementing with NetBase Quid data?

If it’s just a quick poll, we’ll look at high level metrics like post volume, sentiment, passion, intensity, impressions, things like that. For other tasks, we’ll look to audience analytics within a specific conversation and then compare what we find to how that’s different from who we think our audience is. And then we identify white space, where we can begin to navigate or merge those two groups together.

It’s not the same thing day in and day out. One day, I may be looking at specific sentiment for six months and the next day I’m drilling down into spikes in post volume. And further to see what’s driving those spikes? Is it time of day or specific seasonal periods where we’re going to get more conversation?


Day and hour chart showing spikes in conversation with sample posts attached.

Tell us about an insight that gave you an “Ah-ha!” moment about a topic you were using NetBase Quid to research.

Diving into social listening using NetBase is wild. About a year ago we were digging into conversations around family vacations for one client, specifically looking at it in a COVID world. We discovered that RV sales and rentals had increased exponentially. I also found out that there are amusement park RV camps that are tied to specific amusement parks. It highlighted that people are fanatic about the things that they like, and it carries over into many different things.

When we showed our findings to our clients, they were just as surprised as we were that it was such a strong trend. As a result, they expanded some of their paid content to look at situations like this, and targeted people who might be looking for amusement park RV camps for family vacations.

how to measure social analytics roi

What are some of your favorite features and capabilities of NetBase Quid?

NetBase’s topic creation makes building out themes simplified and efficient. You don’t have to spend countless hours over your Boolean search. It’s straightforward, which I really appreciate.

Another feature I really like and use all the time is the option of using API URLs and the alert system capabilities. I can take the API URL and plug that into our statistical analysis, like coding software, and specify for three, six and twelve-month periods to see where the thresholds are.

As an example, if I want to look at conversation specific to stress relief for the past six months, and I want to look at a median of 97.5% threshold, I can see what the garners on an hourly basis. From these findings, we then create an alert that looks at stress relief in the U.S. specifically for XYZ filters. This can turn into actionable insights for the brand. And that just speaks to the nerd in me. I love things when they are exact, and if I can make them super, super specific, then I’m a happy camper.


Crosstab feature with the ‘interests’ theme applied showing passion intensity.

And what did your team’s process looked like prior to using NetBase Quid?

I’ve been working with NetBase for four years now, and I can’t speak of other social listening tools before, as when I started working for the agency straight out of college, the social media monitoring platform was NetBase. However, when I was an intern I worked with Crimson Hexagon. And I prefer NetBase for its usability as it’s a bit simpler and not as convoluted as Crimson.

Yes, you need clear results. So, how important has it been to accurately identify trends or shifts with your market and/or target audience despite the data growing at an exponential rate?

I think it’s vitally important especially for my role as a social analyst working in an intelligence department. It’s critical to bridge that divide between intelligence and strategy departments, and not make things siloed.

When you look at social analytics and know what is happening on a market level, looking at trends and understanding how it’s fluctuating, you can take and apply that strategic lens. However, we also need to be aware of emerging trends that are in their infancy now but in a couple of months or a year, we might have to reevaluate our entire strategy around them.

Sometimes you must look at those smaller pieces and build it to a bigger picture, and realize that, “Oh, even though you’re seeing six tweets about this one specific thing, that doesn’t mean that that is what is happening across the board. That’s a small percentage, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.” NetBase helps us create a safety net, ensuring we won’t have to redo a bunch of work next year.


What is one word you would use to describe your experience with using NetBase Quid’s products?

I would say advantageous. Most people can get into NetBase and understand the basics and navigate through it. But when you play around with it, and dive into all the filters and the features that are there, you can discover super strong and powerful insights that you could tap.

Instead of going through a research organization, for example, I can go to the source. I go to the people who are talking about these things.

If you apply yourself and dig into what people are talking about and why they’re talking about it, then you’ve just expedited the process to connect your brand to your audience. With research organizations, there’s a time delay. And the time component right now is more important than ever, as things are rapidly changing. The research you get today has to be timely, because in a couple days, it could be obsolete.

But that isn’t anything Dalton is worried about, as he stays on top of timely trends, putting those data detective skills to good use every day. If you’d like to continue this conversation with him, he can be reached at

And if you’d like some help discovering your brand’s why, reach out for a demo! We’re happy to show how social analytics can reveal unseen – and often, unexpected – aspects of your target audience.

how to measure social analytics roi

Premier social media analytics platform

Expand your social platform with LexisNexis news media

Power of social analytics for your entire team

Media analytics and market intelligence platform

Enrich your media analytics with social data

Media coverage for historical & real-time monitoring

Data streams & custom KPIs for advanced data science

AI, Image Analytics, Reporting Tools & more

Out-of-the-box integration with other data sources