Implementing the SCMS: A Step-By-Step Guide


Hey all, Dylan here!

This was supposed to come out last week, but the world’s gone a bit crazy since then, so we decided to push it back to this week because #BlackLivesMatter more then this blog.

Venia made a wonderful introductory video about installing the Social Currency Metric System, complete with detailed step-by-step instructions! Isn’t she great?!

I fully encourage you to take 3 1/2 minutes to watch the video below, but I wanted to write a more in-depth guide for implementing the SCMS to be used as a reference you can refer to if you’re confused about what to do next.

Quick Note: The protests in combination with the still dangerous pandemic are hitting us hard; physically, mentally and emotionally. We are with communities of color at this time and appreciate your action to make a better physical and digital space for minorities. For this reason we thought it best to remain silent and provide time for our communities to recover and fight. #BlackLivesMatter #AlertNotAnxious 

While we can build your SCMS implementation in the two-spreadsheet system we’re providing here for free, we also wanted to provide a more comprehensive option that may be a bit more robust and useful.

​My step-by-step guide will work off of the assumption you’re using this template as it offers a whole bunch of awesome functionality that will serve you well as you work through setting up the SCMS system for your own organization.


​What You Need To Get Started

The SCMS was built to be a system scalable for businesses of any size, so what you need to get started depends largely on the scale of qualitative data you’re looking to analyze.

​We would recommend you have at least the following items:

That’s it. Just a single spreadsheet-based template, and data to interpret. Cool!

Now, Larger businesses or those with extensive amounts of qualitative data can implement the SCMS on a simple spreadsheet like this, but more extensive analytics tools may be necessary. My personal recommendation would be to check out MaxQDA, but we also offer a free consultation if you want to look at your options given your SaaS stack.

Step 1: Plan Out Your Data Sources

What do we mean by “planning out” your data sources?

We encourage you to aim for a wide variety of data coming from a number of different contexts. Sure, most of your data may come from your YouTube, Twitter and Facebook feeds, but is the data you’re getting from those three feeds alone diverse enough to get a full picture of your target audience’s Journey?

In qualitative analysis, higher quality data is more valuable than more data.

You may get good insight from the three channels mentioned above, but if you only have the capacity to focus on three main sources of qualitative data, look into substituting YouTube for incoming support tickets or forum posts that may provide longer, more well-reasoned information that comes from a more defined audience.

The feedback you get from several different kinds of sources is guaranteed to be very different from data gathered solely from social media, which can help your organization to get a better picture of the different conversations being had in different parts of your organization.

Step 2: Create Your “Shell”

In the accompanying video, Venia walks you through how to set up your two-sheet spreadsheet. As awesome an introduction as that is, we recommend you just make a copy of the template we’ve developed. It has further information regarding implementing the SCMS, and is a wonderful resource for those new to this whole process.

This is also the step where you take the channels outlined above and begin to port the sentiment (the comments, threads, posts, etc.) in them into the “SCMS” tab of your SCMS implementation. You can do this manually, by copying and pasting information from channel to spreadsheet, or exporting the data directly to your spreadsheet via API, plugin, or another automated option — which is our recommendation, as setting up an automated system to sync your SCMS with new data from these channels will make your life much easier.

We recommendZapier, supermetrics, or depending on your software stack.

Step 3.a: Prepare Your Codex

Your codex is the heart and soul of the SCMS.

The codex is where you note trends and patterns that will ultimately become your results.

This is done by assigning keywords called tags and tracking their use to help you break down what exactly is happening with your data. These keywords take those trends and define them, under what context the trend should be used to depict the type of sentiment on display, and when the trend should not be used.

The codex helps to ensure objectivity in the trends being tracked, which makes the sentiment measurable from a social-scientific standpoint.

What do I mean by adding “trends” and “patterns” to the codex?
As you read through data, you’ll eventually notice some parallels between the comments that your audience is offering to you as feedback. I tend to take note of trends after the third or fourth time they come up in rapid succession.

You may be reading through comments and say to yourself, “Hey, I’ve already seen ten people mention something similar to this!” Come up with a word or short phrase that seems to capture what those comments are trying to weigh in on, and document it in the “term” segment of the codex. When you have the five metrics of the SCMS and a couple additional keywords in that “terms” column, take a moment to fill out the rest of the blanks before continuing on.

This is going to take a while for you to wrap your head around. Don’t get frustrated. In fact, if you’re already feeling overwhelmed, Give us a call! We have a free hour-long consultation specifically for this so we can help you succeed right out of the gate! ​

Step 3.b: Tag Your Sample Data

This is where you get to start having fun and actually working with the data you’ve collected! After porting it into your spreadsheet, read through the comments.

Let’s say you’re looking at 100 different comments, and 48 of them mention that they love your service, but they had problems with your payment system. Jot down “payment system” in your codex, and move on, making sure to include that tag in any pieces of feedback that mention it.

Looking through those same 100 comments, you the notice that 79 of them denote positive interactions with your staff. Again, add “Staff” to your codex, and tag comments where it comes up. Don’t be afraid to tag comments with multiple labels.

Last example, say that a single comment gives incredibly detailed, insightful information on how you can improve your consumer’s experience during product pickup. Should you tag this, even though it pops up only once and isn’t really a trend or a pattern? Absolutely. Who’s to say it won’t pop up again, and you won’t end up creating the tag eventually anyways? When the tag has amassed enough quantitative usage, it has become a significant theme or pattern.

Any part of the conversations surrounding your organization that could contribute to its health is worth noting.

Be careful about these smaller keywords, though. You don’t want to have so many of them that you can’t find anything in your codex. Especially if it only holds true for a handful of comments, see if it would make a good subsection of another trend that you can combine it with.

Step 4: Scale Up Your Implementation

After you’ve got some practice tagging and analyzing your data, and you’ve got a codex of well defined keywords complete with examples of when to (and not to) use them, import the rest of your data from the channels you’ve isolated, and get to analyzing the rest of it!

Especially at first, this may seem a daunting task, like there’s too much information for you and your team to handle but just like other analytics systems, that’s okay. Do what you can. Don’t worry about getting everything analyzed as quickly as possible, feel free to chip away at the information as you can get to it.

Remember, this is a cyclical system.

Importing and analyzing new data is imperative, even if all of the old data hasn’t been fully sorted through yet. Because of how the SCMS gives your business real-time data from qualitative channels, making sure your implementation is up-to-date should be your primary concern before sitting down to tag.

We recommend commiting your team to 1 hour per week of tagging, followed by 15 minutes going over what you’ve all discovered and deciding on new trends.  If it’s just you, 1 hour is fine.

Again, this takes time for you to settle into a rhythm. That’s okay. Focus on doing the job right, and eventually you can work on doing it faster. Like anything else, qualitative data analysis is a skill that improves the more you do it.

On Automation

We strongly recommend 1 hour a week at minimum going over this data.  In team marketing meetings, this personal exposure will give depth and nuance to the views imparted in your data channels, allowing you to accurately and confidently communicate how those tricky-to-track participants on formerly inaccessible data channels think and feel.

What does this have to do with automation?

Well, we suggest implementing automated functions to help organizations with the resources to analyze massive amounts of qualitative data quickly.

However, Venia and I want to stress that the human element at play here is still vital, and there still needs to be interaction of real people with this system. Automated assistance is only as good as the information guiding it. You could be missing valuable data by not double-checking the work the system is doing, and the more work within the SCMS you do, the better it learns how to assist you.

So your work doesn’t stop with the inclusion of automated processes like keyword analysis. It just makes it easier for large amounts of data processing to occur much more quickly. Which is something I, personally, think is pretty awesome!

Now It’s Your Turn!

There you have it, a quick and easy crash-course into the SCMS and qualitative analysis.

Make sure to bookmark this page into a folder full of resources so you can reference it later.

If you’re confused, I want to once more encourage you to take us up on our free one-hour consultation. It will help. We promise.

If you have any questions or comments leading up to your consultation, or just want to reach out for clarification, just drop your feedback in the comment box below, or email me at, and I will do everything I can to help you out.

Tune back in next week, for the long-awaited followup to the post “Who We Are, and Why You Should Care About SociallyConstructed.Online”!

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Venia Logan

I’ve spent the past 9 years learning the diverse skills necessary to create strong stable online communities that put your brand’s services at their center. ​​I started my own YouTube channel in 2010, and RESCQU.NET in 2013. I worked for Constant Contact, and returned to college for a specialization in online community management. Then I attained all 12 certifications from DigitalMarketer and helped dozens of communities. Spend fewer resources advertising to cold contacts or buying paid media and get back to focusing on what you love by growing a community that is financially and socially rewarding for you.