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PR-edicting the Future?

Not so much a typo in that headline, more a question about the potential role for PR agencies in the battle to make sense of the ever swelling limitless vat of data that now exists in various digital forms.

GigaOm’s Matthew Ingram asked last week – ‘Can watching Twitter trends help to predict the future?‘. His piece talked about Twitter trending topics’ (which much like Google Trends, is a bit of an underwhelming experience) failure to predict certain recent social movements – like Occupy Wall Street for example.

He also writes about the industry slowly forming around the mining of historical Twitter data and of various efforts to use Twitter’s half billion daily tweets to identify a certain tipping point in an escalating event – like predicting an epidemic or increasing chatter prior Egypt’s recent revolution.  Our friends over at Recorded Future are doing a fine job using temporal and predictive search to do much the same thing with web data.

Lots of examples spring to mind of companies mining data to improve advertising revenues, or customer targeting or even customer experience management, but actually predicting the future….?

Here at March Insight we are not so much trying to predict the next earth shattering event, threat or opportunity, but rather adding a layer of human intelligence to the analysis of online and social information to try and gain a March on competitors (client competitors that is…mainly), when it comes to capitalizing on the latest trends and issues in their industry and for strategic communications planning.

We have found that its all fine and dandy to have a handle on all the communications that might be going on about and around a brand or industry, but unless you actually leverage that to drive your strategic thinking then you’re just adding to the reactive Twitterfest that makes many of those half billion daily tweets somewhat point- and worth-less.

This post was first published by Martin Jones on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.

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