It is interesting that most conversations about Social Media Monitoring start with a size, breadth and velocity of data and rarely address desired outcomes for this investment. Regardless of what, or even if, you are paying for use of Social Media Monitoring tools, it is always an investment of at least the time and attention span. The wasted time and engagement can quickly get very costly. That is why I suggest that defining and visualizing your desired outcome of your effort and investment, is by far the most important first step.
It is very easy to get caught in “Data Serendipity” mantra – “if you have large enough data sets and a lot of computing power, meaningful patterns are likely to appear”. In my estimation a probability of finding a Farmer’s Daughter while you are looking for a needle in stack of hay, is extremely low. It is by far more likely to find what you are looking for, if you know what “it” looks like and where “it” could likely be found. The size of “Big Data” is relative to a project application, not the size of data sets available for processing.
Here is another perspective – imagine the serendipity does happen and you discovered something meaningful and surprising, but your organization has no processes to convert your finding into systematic action. Effort without action, that leads to a desired outcome, will not likely result in any return and may jeopardize your professional reputation as an impactful player. This is just another argument for choosing wisely a point of attack and a scope of data sources.